ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Bangkok by Boat

Updated on July 3, 2015

Taking a Boat in Bangkok

In the days before Bangkok got paved over with concrete, it was known as the "Venice of the East" because of its vast network of canals or klongs throughout, and the mighty Chao Phraya River snaked through the city. Boats and barges were common transport and today Bangkok still uses boats to get around and surprisingly quickly! You will appreciate the exhilarating experience of the river taxi and take in the passing river/city scenery. Be sure to take a longtail boat klong tour when you first arrive and you're in the midst of exploring the city.

If you need to get from the Grand Palace area to the Silom district, going by taxi can take an hour on bad days, but taking the river taxi will get you to your destination in a fraction of the time. These boats are all about efficiency!

This lens is about taking the canal boats, river taxis and a special section on dinner cruises all taking in the sights of Bangkok from the water.

Chao Phraya Express Boats

Also known as River Taxis

The daily standard express boats go from 6:00 AM to 6:40 PM and arrive every 20 minutes. I used to always catch a river taxi at the Sathorn pier, which is the terminal station for the Skytrain's Silom line. I'd usually head up and get off at Tha Chang Pier for the Grand Palace area or Tha Ratchawong to visit Chinatown. When you get on and off these boats, do so quickly and be ready at the back of the boat when you know your stop is coming up. The boat operators waste no time. You can buy a ticket either at the pier, or a conductor will come by and take your money just like they do on the buses.

Now when you are waiting at the pier, you will also see another pier, usually to the right of the express boat taxi landing. This is for the boat that crosses the river. For 2-3 baht you can get across, and you'll need to when you go to see Wat Arun. So make sure you're on the correct landing -- do you want to go across, up or down the river.

Once you're on board though, it's a sight to see. From high rise luxury hotels to shacks on stilts with laundry flapping in the sun, you'll see those and all of it in between. Near the tall glass-walled office towers, you'll see ornate traditional temples, some of Chinese origin. The modern living next to the ancient is such a contrast and traveling by a mode of transportation that is out of the norm provides a memorable experience.

This convenient link shows you a map of the piers along the Chao Phraya River and gives you additional details about each stop within their site. .

Express Boat River Taxi in Action

Thonburi Canal Tours

Get an unusual glimpse of Bangkok from the water

Before Bangkok's canals were paved over with streets, traveling by boat was the norm. Across the river in the Thonburi district there are still a few canals in use and tours are available via chartered longtail boat.

Along the various piers on the Chao Phraya River, you will be able to charter a boat; any pier between Tha Oriental and Tha Chang should have places to do this, though Tha Si Phraya, Tha Chang and Tha Saphan Phut are the best. Another place is the River City complex near to Tha Si Phraya, although the touts at these piers are paid commissions so bargain carefully and avoid any "free guided tours" as these are scams. Typical rates are about 400 baht per hour, although you may book a day trip for about 3,000 baht, which includes air conditioned transport from your hotel, and English speaking guide and lunch.

Your tour will probably include stops at several temples and a small floating market, which is basically some Thai people in their boats selling souvenirs and snacks. Another highlight is the orchid farm with many varieties of orchids in stunning, brilliant colors. You might get to stop at the Royal Barges Museum, which houses 50 ornately carved and painted long boats used during royal processions. Admission to the museum is 30 baht (about 84 cents USD) however, it's an extra 100 baht if you wish to take photos.

Its fascinating to see the houses on stilts with their hanging gardens along the roof eaves and balconies. You might see monks on their alms rounds making their way in boats, or even the postman making deliveries in his boat! You'll get a look at what life was like before Bangkok was paved over.

Khlong Taxis

For saving an enormous amount of time

Many of the khlong taxi (or canal boat) routes have no signs nor do many guidebooks list them, so it can be challenging finding where they stop to get off.

Getting on and off is tricky as the boat sometimes is still in motion and you must step over the side of the boat right into the seating area. Be very careful not to lose your balance as you certainly don't want to fall into the dirty canal water!

Once you're on board, you may have trouble sitting if you're tall. The benches have very little space between them. If you're sitting at the side and the blue tarp isn't pulled up, you may get splashed with nasty khlong water, so bring a handkerchief just in case.

At one point the roof collapses when the boat goes underneath a very low lying bridge; it freaked me out the first time it happened when the top of the boat was nearly resting on my head! The ticket takers, who also moor the boat, wear bike helmets in case they aren't paying attention when the boat goes under said bridge.

The canal route that I'm familiar with is Klong Saen Saep. Across the street from the Siam Discovery Center is the beautiful new Bangkok Art and Culture Centre building. On that side of the street, head north on Phaya Thai Road and you will see the Saphan Hua Chang (Elephant Head Bridge). If you go underneath that bridge, there is a canal (klong) taxi stop. There aren't any signs, nor is there anything else to show that there is any sort of transport service. I used to take this boat up to Wat Saket (The Golden Mount) and it saved substantial time in traffic and it was far more interesting to take a boat than a bus.

The full route of Khlong Saen Sap runs from Banglamphu all the way across the city to the Ramkhamhaeng University area. Other popular stops for visitors are Tha Banglamphu / Tha Phanfa, Tha Saphan Hua Chang,(mentioned in the previous paragraph) near Jim Thompson's House and MBK shopping center. Tha Pratunam, off Ratchprarop road near CentralWolrd is convenient. Tha Asok, off Asok road (Sukhumvit Soi 21) and off Soi Ekkamai off Sukhumvit road are also convenient stops that save you loads of time when traffic is otherwise heavy.

Fares for khlong taxis are between 5-15 baht, depending on the distance.

Off and On at a Khlong Taxi Stop

Enjoying a traditional Thai dinner, international buffet or seafood while taking in the sights of the river at night is a stunning experience. Glittering skyscrapers and the lit temples and Grand Palace are spectacular to behold. Experience first class hospitality on board a variety of vessels, from restored converted antique rice barges to modern luxury cruisers.

Your Experience with Boats in Bangkok

Which boat trip have you taken?


Submit a Comment

No comments yet.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)