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One of the most popular day trips from Bangkok is the floating market and the railway market. While there’s only one railway market – the Maeklong Railway Market, there are two floating markets nearby. The Damnoen Saduak Floating Market and the Amphawa Floating Market. The former opens every day of the week, while Amphawa remains a more traditional affair and operates from Friday to Sunday.
It only make sense to visit both together to make the best out of the day, and doing a day trip with transport is the most convenient way if you are short on time. Since we had time on a weekend and wanted to sleep in, we opted for the Maeklong Train Market and Amphawa Floating Night Market Join In Tour with Firefly Viewing on Klook.
Summary of the Maeklong Railway and Amphawa Floating Market tour
- Cost: 245 HKD
- Start time: 11:45
- End time: 21:00
- Meeting point: Victoria Monument BTS
Pros: fuss free transport, a taste of both markets in one day and freedom to eat whatever you want while roaming the market
Cons: the boat ride to see the firefly was a bit long for me, especially in the dark. The minivan is a bit cram
Picking up from Bangkok
The pick up instruction is clear from the tour description, which is at the Century Mall by exit 2 from the Victoria Monument BTS Station.
We had arrived earlier just to walk around and grab a bite, since the meet up point is at the mall exit across from the connecting bridge from BTS. If you like pretzel, there is an Annie’s inside the mall. A food court is also present in the basement level but it didn’t look that good.
The staff was already waiting outside when we arrived at 11:40. There seemed to be several tours happening simultaneously in different languages. Most of the other tourists have arrived but one lady was late, so we didn’t depart until 12:05.
The van is relatively comfortable but it is relatively cramped in the backseat and the front seat. The ride to the railway market, which is our first stop, is about 1.5 to 2 hours depending on traffic. It was a little rainy and dreary on our day there, so it took a full 2 hours.
Maeklong Railway Market
Our tour guide ushered us in the direction of the Maeklong Railway Market as soon as we had gotten off. We arrived sometime after 2pm, and the train passes at 2:30pm. We only have an hour at the rail market, and while our guide pointed out good places to eat for us, there’s simply no time if you want to roam and then see the train passes through.
After making sure we know to gather back at the train station sign in an hour, we were dispatched. The railway market is very crowded, even from a Hong Konger’s prospective. Most of the people there are tourists, but the vendors are still a mix of fruits, vegetation, seafood, meat, and tourist fare.
If you need the bathroom, there is one inside the train station, as well as several food stores by it. Since we were short on time, we dived right into the market to seek out a good spot to watch the train approach.
With the time we had before the train arrive, it was enough to reach the end and go back. The market is a great place to take photos, though you do need to be comfortable to be elbowed or elbow people and shuffle.
While I think it is an interesting experience, there are always too many people and the train street in Hanoi is a much better place to see a train pass. There is an annoucement when the train is coming, and the vendors will retract their canopy and move their merchandise. There are so many people that even though I snagged a spot, another tourist jumped in front of me and blocked me completely.
There are also plenty who will walk onto the track for a quick shot and everyone has their arm raised to see the train approach. The speed of the train is slow but it does pass by very close, so be careful.
Once the train has passed, it’s chaos going back out. If you are nearer the end of the market, it’s possible to duck out to the main road and make your way back
Thai Boxing school and Temple
Before we get to go to the floating market, we made a stop at a temple that’s completely covered by a tree, as well as a Thai Boxing school. Not sure what the latter is to be honest, since it’s under construction and the only thing we see is statue in fighting stance.
The temple is said to be where soldiers paid respect before fighting the Burmese back in 2nd kingdom. Photos are not allowed inside but it’s an interesting visit, though not for 45 minutes!
Amphawa Floating Market
We finally got to the Amphawa Floating Market around 5pm. Amphawa Floating Market only opens from Friday evening until Sunday, and is a night market. It is the best local market to get cheap seafood and fruits, perched on River Wat Chula’s entrance to Mae Klong.
The drop off point was east of the main road that cut close to the intersection, at the southern end of the market. After telling us to meet back there at 6:00pm for our firefly viewing boat ride by the main bridge, we were told to roam!
There are plenty of eateries around the floating market, some are on a boat and you can step over and enjoy a meal by the river. We were really hungry since the last time we ate was in Bangkok, so we sat by one of the riverside stalls with seafood being grilled on boats.
If you are up for more scenic seatings, head over to the northern side. We roamed over there after our meal and saw much cuter arrangements, but streetfood tend to be closer to the main cluster in the south.
The market is also very cheap, I ended up buying a pair of trousers for 100 Baht and snacked along the way, too. I highly recommend the Kanomboung, which are tiny taco-like snacks with different fillings, and coconut ice cream!
Firefly boat trip
We returned to the boat station to wait for the firefly boat ride. If you end up coming here on your own, a ride is about 30 baht, so fairly affordable. There is a bathroom at the waiting area, simply let them know you are with the Klook Tour and they’ll let you use it and wait inside the seating area, too.
The boat ride lasts an hour, and honestly isn’t the most interesting in the dark. We moved up along the stream until we reach Mae Klong, then down Mae Klong to go back in a loop. The fireflies are pretty, but few and far between. Mostly, we were hiding from the wind and spray from the river!
We also saw two big temples on our way back, one of which features the statue of a monk that looked particularly ominous in the dark.
We began our journey back to Bangkok as soon as we got off the boat, but I managed to buy something to eat on the way out of the market. We arrived back at Victoria Monument at 9pm.