Located in Samut Songkhram province, Amphawa is a sleepy riverside town that comes to life during the weekends when hordes of visitors from Bangkok pile into its floating market that caters more to Thais than foreign tourists. It's an easy 1.5-hour drive of about 60km or so from Bangkok. Many people do day-trips here.
We went to Amphawa Floating Market (อัมพวาตลาดน้ำ) at 5pm. Peak hour. The worst timing to be on those bridges is near sunset when the strong heat has dissipated and the light is good. I'm not sure which is a better option- boiling under the afternoon sun at 2pm or feeling claustrophobic from the 4pm crowds. Well, there's all that water and it's open-air. At least if there's a fire, you won't die so quickly. Crowds are horrible and the pedestrian traffic on the bridges over the canals to either side of the market can be crazy. Don't bring a bag if you can help it. Put everything into pockets in your clothes that could be zipped up. Prepare to squeeze or be squeezed.
Will you feel molested? Hell, yeah. Be prepared to shove people. Let me put it this way- the entire crowd behavior is very un-Thai (yet most are Thais) and it's 'worse than China'. The standstill at the bridges crossing the canals? Idiots (young and old alike, the middle-aged being the worst) stopping to use selfie sticks without a care and shoving it in everyone's faces, and everyone else taking selfies without a care for pedestrian traffic. Someone jabbed my ears with a stick and my instinctive reaction was to violently shove it away. As a result, she almost fell over into the river. #sorryNOTsorry
We were ecstatic over the choices of street food at the Amphawa Floating Market (อัมพวาตลาดน้ำ). There were quail eggs simply pan-fried in the moulds with the yolks still runny. I bravely ate them. Lots of seafood available of course. River fish and prawns. The spicy grilled squid we bought at a random stall was so tender and delicious. The sauces were the star. I loved those spices!
Not much English is spoken; ordered all our food in Thai. But for tourists without a Thai-speaking guide, politely pointing and using fingers to indicate numbers, and a calculator to reflect prices shouldn't be too much of an issue. If you sit down at the restaurants, the menus are in Thai and English, so if you aren't asking for the moon and don't mind sticking to stock provisions, then getting a meal isn't a problem.
It was hot and sweaty at the market but totally satisfying for the stomach. The man set his Microsoft Band to a realistic 7000 steps a day. He says we're hitting 20,000 steps a day easy. Hahaha. No problems with the hygiene of street food and all. The food the vendors brought are usually sold out within hours. Ingredients were fresh enough and as long as the water used was clean, our tummies were fine. Even the man's more sensitive stomach was all right.
The province is known for its salt fields and short mackerel (plaa thu, ปลาทู). And fireflies. I suppose the short mackerel is ikan selar (mackerel scad). Dinner included a mackerel clear soup that was tasty, not too salty and not the least bit fishy. They put three mackerels in our little pot. Decimated them. There're plenty of toy fireflies and toy mackerels sold in the market. Kinda cute. Although I've no idea how bugs could be made cute. Well, fireflies are technically winged beetles. Yup, one of those toy mackerels came along in the car with us.