Exploring Bangkok Klongs and Canals
Bangkok's history has evolved along the banks of the Chao Phraya River and its adjoining canals. It may no longer be the "Venice of the East" described by early visitors, but the waterways still breathe life into the city and continue to play an important part in daily life. Every day you see commuters, saffron robed monks and school children speeding by on fast river taxis, overtaking the heavily laden rice barges making their sedate journey upriver.
For visitors the river provides contrasts of old and new, with many of Bangkok's most revered temples standing alongside warehouses, old wooden houses, new residential blocks and prestigious five star hotels. On the Thonburi side of the river (the original site of Thailand's capital), a network of canals (khlongs), largely unaffected by modern development, still connect the city to the suburbs. And on the Rattanakosin side it is possible to catch river taxis along Khlong Saen Saep, a dirty but important transport artery that cuts through the heart of the modern city.
Bangkok's waterways are well worth taking a few hours to explore. And there are many ways to do it, ranging from river cruises and khlong tours to public river taxis and dinner cruises.