Amphawa is in the province of Samut Songkhram, southwest of Bangkok, Thailand. While it is small in land area, it has abundant agricultural crops and marine life, being beside the Mae Klong river. From Bangkok to Amphawa, it is only about 90 kilometers which take around an hour and thirty minutes drive.
In a capsule, Amphawa has a rich tradition of the Thai People with lots of Thai history, culture, folkways, community life and a sustainable ecosystem.
Amphawa – The Village of Elephants
Amphawa was originally called Bang Chang, a Thai term for “village of elephants” Its history as a settlement, beside the waters, stretches far into the late Ayutthaya period, in the middle of 17th century during the rule of the monarch Prasat Thong. The literal meaning of Amphawa is “mango grove” referring to a site in the life of the Lord Buddha. This is seen in the municipality’s symbol showing an elephant in a mango grove. That region has a seashore, mangrove forests, orchards, and of course the Amphawa floating market is very popular among tourists and is regarded as charmingly authentic.
Amphawa Thailand has a rich fabric history and unique cultural sites as well as a sustainable ecosystem that provides a wealth of values as a tourist destination in Thailand.
King Buddhalertla Naphalai
King Buddhalertla Naphalai was the second monarch of the Rattanakosin Kingdom which is the present kingdom in Thailand. He was born in Amphawa in the 18th century. He was Thai monarch Rama II. more completely known as Buddhalertla Naphala.
The Memorial Park
A Memorial Park in his honor was built in 1892 and is maintained by a foundation set up by the Thai royalty in 1968. Rama II was honored by UNESCO with the status of the Person of the World. Rama II was a poet, a writer, a sculptor, a musician who played the flute, and King of Thailand. He greatly influenced Thai art and culture.
The park has four pavilions that display his achievements; a museum showing artifacts in the early years of the Rattanakosin era and furniture of King Rama II, wax figures that show how Thais lived in this era. An interesting feature is an open theater where actors in a mask dance enact the story of Ramayana. One can leisurely walk in a botanical garden of plants described in the works of King Rama II.
One of the most known Buddhist temples is Wat Bangkae which was Built-in 1173 by the wife of Chao Phraya Surasak. Wat is the Thai term for “temple”. This is divided into two temples, Wat Bangkae Noi and Wat Bangkae Yai. Built with golden teak wood, it took ten years to build the temple. Sculptors from Petchaburi did the carvings which show the life of the Lord Buddha.
There is also the Amphawan-jetyaram Warawihan Temple with mural paintings showing the life of King Rama II, his written works and Bangkok scenes during his rule. The Bang Kaphom Temple has sculpture portraying the life of Lord Buddha.
Communities surrounding the temples, beside khlong Bangkae are visited by tourists, as an agricultural site. There are guesthouses for tourists, who have a close-hand view of the way of life, the farming ways of local communities, including gypsum farming.
Amphawa floating market
Coming in a car, bus, taxi or train, tourists troop to Amphawa floating market, an afternoon and evening floating market every Friday until Sunday where they buy seafood, enjoy fried noodles in Thai style, grilled river prawns and squids; savor Thai desserts made from coconut which the literary monarch, Rama II mentioned in his poems; fruits as mangoes, pomelos, bananas. And flowers.
There are plentiful souvenirs as well as handicrafts, baskets made from coconut leaves. Thai people ingeniously craft decorative birds from coconuts. Canal-side shops sell Benjarong, which are enamel ceramics. Nighttime provides boat trips for tourists to see the night sky lighted by fireflies in cork trees.
The Porcelain Village
The Porcelain Village is a cultural site in Baan Don Kai Dee Benjarong. Ceramics made of enamel is known as “Benjarong” with an overglaze of many colors, and with gold applications. The ceramics craft was developed in the Ayutthaya period. There are motifs of deities painted on the ceramics, creatures from mythology. The ceramics under placed King Rama II, came in with different colors bearing designs such as flowers, the garuda, lions. To this day, local artisans do the craft.
This porcelain village was founded by Urai Taeng-Eim in 1980, after a major porcelain factory closed. Along with artists and craftsmen, she sets up the factory which today is a flourishing trade with exports of the ceramics, done in Thai people style.
Siamese Cat Village
One more interesting and kind of unique sight in Amphawa Thailand is the Siamese Cat Village. A wooden Thai bungalow, south of Wat Kai Bang Kung, taking care of so many cats. The name is ‘Baan Maeo’ which means in Thai House (Thai word is baan) of Siamese Cats, with an exhibit of four generations of Siamese cats: “Korat”, “Wichien Moat”, “Korn ja”, “Suphalak” . Living Siamese cats do roam the house and gardens. Cat lovers set up the cat village to preserve the Siamese cat species. There are guesthouses as well as luxury hotels in the area.
Where to Stay?
Basically, It’s best to come to this place for more than one day, a package tour to Amphawa can get you great prices for Hotels and tours. However, one great option to spend the night in Amphawa is Chuchai Buri Sri Hotel in Amphawa. Lots of entertainment area with 18 rooms only, a small shopping center and restaurant. The location is only 500 meters from Amphawa floating market. It was built by a wealthy Thai designer of gemstones, Chuchai Chairitthilert.