Canal touring in Bangkok, one of the many beautiful and exotic attractions of the country, continues to draw tourists from around the world. The many khlongs or canals in Bangkok and its sceneries are so reminiscent of the Grand Canal in Venice that people started calling Bangkok the “Venice of the East”.
According to history, when the King Buddha Yodfa or King Rama I moved the capital of the country to Bangkok, he ordered the creation of two canals by digging the land. The artificial canals are joined together at both ends by the Chao Phraya River, surrounding Bangkok with bodies of water as a result. The idea was to better protect Bangkok, the seat of the monarch, from the enemy. Today, Bangkok has many small canals and streams that have sprouted out of the Tha Chin, Mae Klong and the Chao Phraya Rivers.
And because there are many canals and waterways, several routes and tours are possible. There are day canal tours that take an entire day while there are others that last half day only. Of course, you can also arrange it yourself and just hire out a long-tail boat and canal tour for as long or short as you want. Usually, a three-hour tour will already include four destinations.
Some of Bangkok’s attractions that you can see via canal touring include the Grand Palace with the Wat Phra Kaew or the temple of the Emerald Buddha, Wat Arun or the temple of the Dawn, the Royal Barge Museum and other canal attractions including Floating Markets. Along the rivers, you will also see some modern establishments, traditional Thai houses and the way of living of Thai people who have set up their residences by the riverside. It’s a tour that will truly let you see Bangkok and its hidden beauty through the eyes of the ordinary Thai. The simplicity of their lives and the beauty of it will not be lost on you.
If you decide to arrange a canal tour yourself, go directly to the North of the Chao Phraya River in Tha Chang pier. Once in Tha Chang pier, you won’t miss the booths that are usually grouped together offering long-tail boat by the hour or per person basis. There is no standard price for boat rental so just settle with the one offering the lowest price. It’s OK to haggle if you do it gently.
Obviously, you have to have company to enjoy a self-arranged canal tour, although there’s no rule that says you can’t hire out a boat and sail with only the boatman as your company. Tour companies generally hire out bigger boats so their clients can all go together, so if you shall take this route you’d be sure to have other tourists with you. Whatever you decide, just remember to soak up on SPF lotions before you go canal touring in Bangkok. Wear a hat and something light and cool too as it can get very hot out in the river.