A sampan (Chinese: 舢舨; pinyin: shānbǎn) is a relatively flat bottomed Chinese wooden boat from 3.5 to 4.5 m (11.5 to 14.8 ft) long. Some sampans include a small shelter on board, and may be used as a permanent habitation on inland waters. Sampans are generally used for fishing or transportation, in coastal areas or rivers. It is unusual for a sampan to sail far from land as they do not have the means to survive rough weather.
The word "sampan" comes from the original Cantonese term for the boats, 三板 (sam pan), literally meaning "three planks", although this term is deprecated in modern Chinese. The name referred to the hull design, which consists of a flat bottom (made from one plank) joined to two sides (the other two planks). The design closely resembles Western hard chine boats like the scow or punt.
Sampans may be propelled by poles, oars (particularly a single, long oar called a yuloh) or may be fitted with outboard motors.
- Indonesian Sampan.jpg
A contemporary sampan comes back from fishing, on the north coast of Java
- C. Andrade, Jr • The RUDDER, July (1917). "Chinese Sampan Teaches Much to Designers".
- "Cranks with Planks presents Sampans -n- Yulohs" (includes excerpt from G.R.G. Worcester's Junks and Sampans of the Yangtse.)