Bangkok may be a big bustling metropolitan city but underneath this exterior lies the old tradition of an established river port city. Since the days of yore during the Ayutthaya period when the capital was relocated to what is now Bangkok, the primary mode of transportation in those days were totravel by boats and long in-land treks. Traveling by boats meant a shorter route and being able to reach into the vast interiors of the Thai Kingdom. Therefore it comes as no surprise that the city as well as other cities that run along the mighty ChaoPhraya which adjoins other rivers including the mighty Mekong are easily accesible via river transportation.
The Chao Phraya River has many canals which feed into the city of Bangkok into various districts. These canals are locally known as “Klongs” and meanders through the old and new districts of the city leading out to the river. When you fly into Bangkok city, you can see the canals quite clearly from the air and this is what makes Bangkok sightseeing an interesting activity. These canals are also the reason why Bangkok is known as “The Venice of the East“.
Every visitor that stops over in Bangkok should indulge in a Bangkok tourism activity that covers day tours in Bangkok which includes a canal tour and Bangkok boat rides along the canals.These boat rides starts from either an inland pier or the main river pier. You can choose from a cruise on a long-tail speed boat, a rice barge or a touring cruise ship. The inner canals are normally serviced by the long-tail boats which offer a fascinating insight into the typical lifestyle of the Thai culture especially those who live by the rivers and canals.
There is a big difference from the hectic busy streets to the serene and blissful lives of these denizens of the city and can sometimes be an eye-opener. The canal tour and sightseeing travel will bring you to the twin sister city of Bangkok which used to be the capital city, Thonburi or also known as Bangkok Noi which is still very much reminiscent of the old but yet enduring traditional lifestyle of the Thai people. Along the way you will pass several temples also known as “Wat” in the the Thai language, such as Wat Si Sudaram, Wat Suwannaram,Wat Nai Rong, both of which are known to house the ancient and magnificient murals from the time of Rama III, Wat Arun or better known as the Temple of Dawn, The National Royal Barges Museum where all the intricately adorned barges are kept and now only used for ceremonial purposes and off course the Royal Grand Palace.
Your canal tour travel will give you a totally different insight into Bangkok city. Here you can see the mix of old and new, where many of the housing along the river and canals are still very much of a rural feel with houses built on stilts and children bathing in the canals all in contrast to a teeming concrete jungle in the background which could actually just be next door with their oppulent highrise buildings and savvy lifestyle! If you are sightseeing on a weekend, you will have the opportunity to visit one of the floating markets along the way where the traders still ply their business by long boats and sell just about anything from clothing to food. It is an eclectic mix of sound, smells, taste and vibrant color not to be missed in any Bangkok holiday itinarary.
The canal tours are part of the sightseeing tourism for Bangkok city, some can be for an hour, half a day or even a full day tour with several stops in between so that you can have an opportunity to visit the many places of interest and historical significance along the way. The canals and waterways are also a mode of regualr transport for the Thai people who use it daily to commute to work or get from place to place as it it the cheapests and fastests form of transportation in the city where the streets are always packed with cars, bikes and lorries creating a traffic problem.
So while you are visiting Bangkok city, do make it a point to avail of one of these canal tours and enjoy sightseeing Bangkok city from a unique tourism perspective for at least half a day cruising down the canals to the Chao Phraya and be enlighten by a different lifestyle which you always find depicted in movies on the silver screen!