Sampan is a traditional Chinese wooden boat that has a flat bottom and in some cases can have a shelter on it. There are many of them that are used as houses on inland waters.
There are sampans that are used for transportation in coastal areas or rivers. But its traditional use is for fishing. Sampans are not seeing in open waters because they cannot survive in rough waters.

The boat design is pretty similar to the punt and scow and is propelled by oars or sails. Sampan is also known as Chinese shoe-boat.
There are modern sampans that use inboard motors.

Uses of the sampan

  • River transport: this kind of boat is commonly use for transportation in the rivers of Asian Islands. In some places, there are streets that are full of sampans and rowboats.
  • Leisure trips: there are several sampans that are available for hiring in China.
  • House: some people use this boat as a place to live.


The boat is not very big but not to small either. It uses oars but some modern ones use an engine as power resource and can be said that they are powerboats. There are some streets on the Asian islands where people are going to be able to find a lot of these boats on streets also providing a way to pass some rivers.