Bangkok Khlongs and Canals

Exploring the Klongs and Canals of Bangkok

The 'Venice of the East' nickname in fact predate Besso's scribblings by hundreds of years. However, though it is unclear when exactly the phrase was born, it is clear that no tourist guide since (book, person or website) has been able to resist this captivating cliche. Like Burma's 'Mandalay', it evokes the romance of the Orient, only Bangkok-style: of languid sampans drifting down tree-lined canals, of stoic locals living next to them in floating wooden shophouses, of city life before the advent of tuk-tuks and traffic jams.


What's Left of Venice of the East?

But does the Venice of the East still exist? Yes and no. Many canals were drained or filled because of the risk of cholera they posed, or to make way for badly needed roads. Unlike the city's Chao Phraya River, little or no trade passes along those that remain. 

However it's not a tale of total stagnation. In places remaining khlongs are, though pungent, still picturesque. Old bridges survive, crooked houses still crowd the waters edge. For a few measly baht you can whiz past them, engulfed in noise and heat and fumes, rancid water flying toward you as the boat surges forwards (for speed and sheer exhilaration they put Venice's gondolas to shame!). Or take a gentle stroll along canal paths, peeking with every few steps into a new home, stepping as you go over shoes or passed elderly ladies watering potted plants.

The 'Venice of the East' isn't dead - but just how much is left? Which khlongs still have taxi boats? Can you use them to sightsee, shop or cheat the city's notorious traffic? Is there much of interest along them? Read on to find out...

Explore Thonburi Khlongs

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 the river in Thonburi you can get glimpses of what Bangkok was like before the skyscrapers and six-lane expressways. Read More...


 

The Khlongs of Bangkok

Klongs of Bangkok Khlongs of Thonburi

Fancy exploring a ramshackle world of criss-crossing canal networks that sub-divide into even narrower canals, and are all lined with old wooden houses and pots of colourful flowers? Read More...

 
Phadung Krung Kasem

Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem is a picturesque dead end, but it has a wistful charm. Come for a stroll if you're in the area or have an hour to kill before catching a train at Hua Lamphong. Read More...

Khlong Saen Saeb

With ornate Italian Rocco bridges and no shortage of old wooden homes, Khlong Saen Saeb is the closest to the Venice of the East you'll find in Bangkok. Read More...

 
Khlong Saen Saeb Guide

A guide to the most useful and interesting piers found along the 18km ferry boat route serving Khlong Saen Saeb, including what can be found at each one.  Read More...

Related Pages

Join a Thonburi Klong Tour

Bangkok's charming riverside is brimming with stories to tell. On this morning tour, a long-tailed speedboat whisks you down the Chao Phraya River and canals of Thonburi. Read More...

 
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 close at their iridescent details and craftsmanship. Read More...


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