Khlongs are the canals that are still a very important part of the old Bangkok city. Spreading around the city these canals provide an efficient yet inexpensive mode of transport to thousands of Thais. This way of transport takes them to their work and home in a much faster and cheaper way. For the tourists, traveling in boats can be a lot of fun but for these people it is an important mode of transport.
When I went to Bangkok for the first time in 2010, I didn’t get a chance to experience the Khlong ride but this year, on my business visit, I was forced by a local friend to travel through the long tailed boat. Although I was a little scared about the safety but the experience was so amazing that I tried to get onto a boat every day to get to my client. A person on the boat told me that in the early 19th century this place was known as “Venice of the East”. These beautiful canals can be traveled around and explored in long boats and other available options too. If your tour is planned and you have hired your own boat instead of choosing the taxi boats, the experience will be quite different.
How to arrange Khlong tour Bangkok:
These boats can be booked from the stops at the Chao Phraya River and the charming river ride begins from the river and travels to the Thonburi canal, you can also go for a Noi Canal Boat Tour. Make sure that before getting on to a boat, you have clearly mentioned what kind of a ride you want and how much you will pay for it. Try to inquire from boatmen standing around about the rates they offer. Remember! There is always a margin of bargain.
What to expect from the Khlong ride:
English speaking guides are also available on request and they will tell you the tales of Bangkok and guide you with all the amazing places your boat will pass through. On your way you are expected to see The Temple of Dawn (Wat Arun), The Royal Barges Museum and the Emerald Buddha Temple. Besides the spiritual places, you can also spot a few amazing sceneries so keep your camera ready for some quick clicks.
When the boat will take you to the Royal Barge Museum, you can enjoy the sight of the ceremonial boats of the Royal family and enjoy your tour while your boat will be parked near the gate. The boatman allows you to take 15 to 20 min on the temple sights so you can quickly move around and take some pictures. If you request the person, he will also take you to the orchid farm which is an amazing place to visit. Beautiful orchid flowers and colorful environment was worth watching. I took a lot of pictures there and even plucked some flowers from the farm.
Something that will surprise you is the lifestyle of the people living around the place. When I saw the floating fruit seller for the first time I was stunned and as we moved forward, guess what? I saw a floating kitchen which was actually a small restaurant too. If you hungry you can get yummy BBQ chicken, noodles, traditional Thai food and sticky rice. Floating markets on the way will surely excite you and how can I forget the fine-looking old houses on the banks and the energized children waving hands and playing along the river side. The colorful culture along the river side tells you the stories which the old city of Bangkok has stored within.
Preparation for the Bangkok Khlong tour:
Don’t take your luggage along as it is difficult to travel and keep your balance on the boat. Instead take a bag pack and keep some snacks for the munch time. Don’t keep a lot of money, as you will only need some for the museum entrance, boat ride and lunch. Sunscreen and a hat is a must or you will complain later, about the hot weather and sun burn. Take your Camera along for some of the best clicks in Bangkok.
Types of Transportation boats:
There are different boats available for the Khlong ride in Bangkok. Amongst them is the long tailed boat that zooms its way to the far away canals and is a little noisy in compare to the other options available. The narrow beams are the identification marks of the boat along with the high pointing bows and long tail.
If you wish to make a short journey across the river, try the shuttle boats. These types of boats have square bows and they make their way slowly to the destination. Flat bottom of the shuttle boats assist the thrust on the piers.
The third type of boat is the express boat which is a white long boat with different colored flags indicating different routes and destinations. They are not charging much as the ticket fee is controlled by the government. These Express boats operate on a daily basis scheduled at regular intervals of about 20 minutes. They are fast and provide a cheap mode of transportation. Be careful about your tickets at the rush hours!
Express River Boats identification:
Often there are different color flags on the boats which have specific meanings. A boat with a Yellow flag travels from Monday to Friday in the peak rush hours and has 10 stops in its journey. Orange flagged boat has 20 stops till it reaches the destination and it operates 7 days a week. The boat with a green and yellow flag also operates in the peak hours on Mondays and Fridays but has 11 stops altogether. The local boats have no flags and they have a long route of more than 30 stops. Blue flagged boats are the tourist boats which usually have 10 stops and operate 7 days a week.
Standing on the river banks and appreciating the beauty is not enough, you have to take the magical ride on the boat to feel and value the real beauty of these rivers. In contrast to the busy city life of Bangkok and the rush on the roads, this river ride is very calm and will take you away to a peaceful world.