- Travel Tips
- Fodor's Choice
Roaming the Waterways
Bangkok used to be known as "Venice of the East," but many of the klongs (canals) that once distinguished this area have been paved over. Traveling along the few remaining waterways, however, is one of the city's delights. The water has been cleaned up and is no longer so black and smelly. You'll see houses on stilts, women washing clothes, and kids going for a swim. A popular trip to the Royal Barge Museum and the Khoo Wiang Floating Market starts at the Chang Pier near the Grand Palace.
Ferries (sometimes called "river buses") ply the river. The fare for these express boats is based on the distance you travel; the price ranges from B10 to B32. The river can be an efficient way to get around as well as a sightseeing opportunity. Under the Saphan Taksin Skytrain stop, there is a ferry stop where passengers can cross the river to Thonburi for B3. Many hotels run their own boats from the pier near the Oriental. From here you can get to the Grand Palace in about 10 minutes and the other side of Krungthon Bridge in about 15 minutes. Local line boats travel specific routes from 6 am to 6 pm. If you are on Sukhumvit, Phetchaburi Road is a good place to catch them. These boats stop at every pier and will take you all the way to Nonthaburi, where you'll find the quaint car-free island of Koh Kret, that has a Mon community and specializes in pottery—a pleasant afternoon trip when the city gets too hot.
A Chao Phraya Tourist Boat day pass is a fun introduction to the river. They are a bargain at B150 for the whole day. One advantage of the tourist boat is that while traveling from place to place there's a running commentary in English about the historic sights along the river and how to visit them. The tourist boat starts at the pier under Saphan Taksin Skytrain station, but you can pick it up at any of the piers where it stops, and you can get on and off as often as you like.
Longtail boats (so called for the extra-long propeller shaft that extends behind the stern) operate like taxis. Boatmen will take you anywhere you want to go for B300 to B500 per hour. It's a great way to see the canals. The best place to hire these boats is at the Central Pier on Sathorn Bridge. Longtails often quit running at 6 pm.
For a blast into Bangkok's transportation past, traditional wooden canal boats are a fun (though not entirely practical) way to get around town. Klong Saen Saep, just north of Ploenchit Road, is the main boat route. The fare is a maximum B25, and during rush hour boats pull up to piers in one-minute intervals. Klong boats provide easy access to Jim Thompson's House and are a handy alternative way to get to Khao San Road during rush hour.
Free Fodor's Newsletter
Subscribe today for weekly travel inspiration, tips, and special offers.
Fodor's Trip Planning Ideas
- Great American Vacation: Find Your Next U.S. Trip with Fodor's
- 80 Degrees: Fodor's Helps You Find Your Best Beach Vacation Spots
- Go List: Fodor's Top 25 Places to Go in 2013
- Hotel Awards 2012: Fodor's 100 Top Hotels
- Weekend Getaways: Fodor's Recommends the Best Weekend Escapes in the US
- Best of Europe: Fodor's Picks the Best Places to Visit in Europe
- Enchanted Thailand! Flights to Bangkok From 788 R/T ASAPTickets.com
- Save $$ in Bangkok: Book Fr $43+/Nt Save with Hotels.com, $44/night less
- Book 3 Nts in Bangkok this May Fr $113+/Nt Save with Expedia, $41/night less
- 4.5-Star Bangkok Sale! 4 Nts + Air Fr $1622 Expedia
- Hot Deal on a 17 Nt Cruise! Avalon Waterways Fr $4,024 Expedia