The Khlongs of Thonburi in Bangkok

Exploring the other side of Bangkok by Longtail boat

Having stayed an independent province until it was merged into Bangkok in 1972, Thonburi – the old Bangkok capital situated on the western banks of the Chao Phraya River – has avoided much of the modern development seen elsewhere. Its man-made network of khlongs, including Khlong Mon and Khlong Bangkok Noi, retains much of their ramshackle charm.

Forget the over-crowded ferries. Forget the tourist hordes, the overpriced souvenirs, the whole money-making charade. For a real sense of how people in Bangkok used to live, in stilted shacks, old wooden townhouses and dilapidated lean-tos – and still do – try them Bangkok Thonburi Khlongs.

Read More

River Boats and Tours?

At 6 metres across, only small, narrow boats like flat-bottom boats and long-tail speedboat can navigate the Thonburi khlongs. You can hire a colourful painted long-tail boat (hang yao) from any major tourist piers like Rivercity, Taksin, Chang or Maharaj, and go exploring. Agree on the price before departure (400 - 500 baht per hour; negotiable). However bear in mind that he's your driver not your guide; his English may be minimal but he will know where to go.

Ask to explore Khlong Mon, Klong Bangkok Noi and Klong Bangkok Yai, and also the Royal Barges Museum, which contains splendidly decorated boats and barges completely unique to Thailand. Sound tricky? Try the Khlongs Tour or the Canals Route Tour instead – they're hassle free and include pick-up and drop-off at your hotel.

Highlights of Thonburi Khlongs

Khlong Mon is as quaint as they come. Old, weathered teak homes alternate with modern town houses, crumbling shacks and the odd temple. Saffron-robed monks and verdant patches of morning glory or water hyacinth. Small boat's travel up and down river. People are scrubbing clothes, sleeping or throwing scraps to fish, smiling - or waving. This is an older, simpler and altogether sweeter Bangkok.

Khlong Bangkok Noi is wider and bolder – more river than canal. It is lined with factories, temples and navy installations as well as homes. Where it meets the Chao Phraya river is the Royal Barges National Museum, where the elaborately gilded barges used in solemn Royal ceremonies can be seen up close.

Rate This Place: ( votes)

The Khlongs and Canals of Bangkok

River & Waterways

Exploring Bangkok by boat

Exploring Bangkok by boat is cheap and in some way more authentic - but confusing! We compiled this river manual, Read More...

Chao Phraya River

2. Chao Phraya River

The invigorating air, the cooling breeze, the scenery at once sleek, scruffy and spiritual...  the Chao Phraya Read More...

Chao Phraya Pier Guide

3. Chao Phraya Pier Guide

This guide highlights the most interesting piers found along the 21km Chao Phraya River Express Boat route. Temples, a Read More...

Boats & Ferries in Bangkok

4. Boats & Ferries in Bangkok

Boats are a great way to get around the famous riverside area with its many historical attractions, and to explore the Read More...

Klongs of Bangkok

5. Khlongs of Thonburi - Full Guide

Fancy exploring a ramshackle world of criss-crossing canal networks that sub-divide into even narrower canals, and are Read More...

6. Khlong Saen Saeb - Full Guide

A guide to the most useful and interesting piers found along the 18km ferry boat route serving Khlong Saen Saeb, Read More...

Related Pages

  • Royal Barges Museum

    Royal Barges Museum

    This open warehouse contains eight fabulously gilded barges restored or built by His Majesty the King. Have a look up Read More»

  • Thonburi Khlongs Tour (Review)

    The best way to get a taste of Bangkok’s past is to explore the klongs (canals) on a long-tail boat. On the west side of Read More»

  • Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)

    Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn)

    The spire (prang) of Wat Arun on the bank of Chao Phraya River is one of Bangkok's world-famous landmarks. It sits on Read More»

  • Don Muang Airport

    Don Muang Airport serves domestic flights as well as charter flights and non-combat military aircraft operated by the Read More»

  • Bangna

    A prime commercial and industrial area on the outskirts of the city. Home to BITEC exhibition centre and the massive Read More»

  • 10 Best Affordable Hotels in Riverside

    10 Best Value Hotels in Riverside

    The best value hotels in Bangkok Riverside are not as renowned as the palatial resorts that sit proudly on the Chai Read More»

We try to provide free information that is as up-to-date and accurate as possible. However, if you are planning to travel it's a good idea to double check specific dates and information to avoid surprises.