The Ampur of Ampawa is in Samut Songkram Province, which is about 75 kms from Bangkok. It only takes an hour and a half to get there. Although it’s the smallest of the seventy six provinces in Thailand, it has an amazing network of 330 canals running off the Mae Klong River which is extremely wide as it nears the sea.  Samut Songkram Province also boasts 109 temples and some of them are very special.

Its first claim to fame was as the birth place of Queen Amarindra who was the wife of King Rama I and subsequently, King Rama II was born here, in the tiny district of Ampawa.
In Ampawa, the streets are really narrow and with all the houses opening onto the canal side there’s normally an access way just wide enough for a motorbike to pass you while you’re walking. 

The quality of the water in the canals is something which the residents of Ampawa pride themselves in and even though the canals are used daily for all types of commerce, they remain surprising clean.

Bangkokians find themselves doing something they would never dream of at home and that is swimming in the local canal.

Encouragement and support from central government has seen a proliferation of homestays, ranging from newly built resorts to original teakwood houses which are kept in immaculate condition.

This is a small community where people happily talk to you as you wander along the narrow lanes. One of  the best things about Ampawa is that everything you want to see is within walking distance, like the Benjarong factory. This is where you’ll see exquisite hand-painted porcelain being produced and have a chance to wander through their Benjarong Museum which showcases Benjarong design throughout the Chakri dynasty.

A place where palm sugar is made is called "Tao Tan".  This area of  Samut Songkram is famous for the quality of their Tao Tan sugar which is light brown in colour, and hard, but not completely rock hard.

Palm sugar is made from tapping the sap from sugar palm trees.  At the top of the palm, a small cut is made in the stems on which the flowers and fruit are growing. Small bamboo containers are tied onto the branch and left overnight so the sap can slowly drip into them.

The liquid is then boiled in vats over coconut husk furnaces until it becomes light to golden brown and finally is left to dry and harden into blocks. You can sample the liquid sap fresh from the harvest or you can try climbing the tree yourself.

There are many temples of sublime beauty & historical significance in this area, but two of the most interesting are Wat Bang Kung and Wat Bangkae Noi.

Wat Bang Kung is famous for the small chapel that is completely enclosed within the roots of a banyan tree. It is almost like the tree itself is the pillars of the temple and that without the roots the chapel would fall down. You can also go inside to pay respect to the Buddha image.

Wat Bangkae Noi has quite a breathtaking view because the interior walls and ceiling of the main chapel have intricate teakwood carvings depicting the life and teachings of the Lord Buddha.

The night-time boat trip on the Mae Klong River provides the opportunity to enter the enchanting world of the fireflies as the swarm in the Lampu trees along the river bank. It's an unbelievable sight, as entire trees are aglow with flashing, yellow lights. Thailand has over 100 species of firefly, and the fireflies on the Mae Klong blink in unison, just like a Christmas tree.

Food is a national past-time in Thailand, and the wholesomeness of the local food will have you salivating at the very thought of it. Especially good are the ice cream and the fresh baked cookies.

Ampawa retains its original floating market which normally takes place Friday – Sunday starting about 3:00 in the afternoon. It’s good to be hungry before you go!

In keeping with the traditions of rural Thailand, the community sleeps early and wakes early. If you rise with the sparrows you’ll be able to witness the monks on their early morning alms round and you’ll be amazed at their ability to propel their boat through the water without any sound whatsoever.

A visit to Ampawa is a reminder of a time when people were friendlier and the pace of life was dictated solely by the sun and the moon. You will return refreshed in body and renewed in soul, which seems a fair exchange for your few baht spent.

More information on touring Ampawa can be found here.