Bangkok Page 63, Canal tour along the canals of Thonburi
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Canal tour along the canals of Thonburi

Nineteenth-century Bangkok was laced with canals, giving the capital the designation Venice of the East. As Bangkok turned into a bustling metropolis, Thonburi's surviving canals and the Chao Phraya River provide memorable vignettes of the traditional waterborne way of life that once was. No wonder then that most travellers visit the district by boat. Much of the tours and floating markets feel pretty set-up though, but especially in mornings you might still encounter an authentic floating vendor, paddling from house to house trying to sell the food they had just prepared.


The most convenient option is to take a fixed-price trip, a package deal that usually includes a visit to Wat Arun, the Royal Barge Museum and a floating market. Such a tour can obviously be booked through a travel agency, but it's easy enough to head straight to the pier and get going. There are two tour companies, one operating from Tha Chang pier in Rattanakosin, the other operating from Si Phraya pier in Silom ( near the River City Shopping Complex ).


Mitchaophraya Travel Service, Tel: 0 2225 6179    0 2225 6179  0 2221 2297   0 2221 2297    Operating out of Tha Chang pier, it offers plenty of tours, all of them include Wat Arun, the Royal Barge National Museum and a floating market. At weekdays it will pass by the Thonburi Floating Market, which is obviously set-up for tourists and not worth it. Better take the tour at weekends, when it offers the Taling Chan Floating Market ( which is also not authentic, but feels more genuine and is a lot more lively). The one-hour tour goes through the Bangkok Noi and Mon canals for 800 Baht. The 90-minute tour also takes in the Bangkok Yai canal for 1000 Baht The complete tour takes two hours, costs 1200 Baht, and goes deeper into Thonburi, where you will visit an orchid farm.  


The Boat Tour Centre. Operating out of Si Phraya pier, they offer a one-hour tour for 800 Baht  and a two-hour for 1500 Baht. The one-hour tour is a quick tour of the Chao Phraya river. At the two-hour tour, you will either visit the Wat Sai Floating Market ( if arriving around 8 AM on weekdays ) or go up north to Wat Arun and the Royal Barge National Museum at any other time. Trips can also be arranged by chartering a boat along the canals at the east side of the river. The most convenient place to do this is at Tha Chang pier or Tha Tien pier at the Rattanakosin side of the river, but it's also possible at Oriental pier in Silom and at the Bangkok Information Centre in the Khao San Road district (under Phra Pinklao Bridge). Major canals in Thonburi which tourists can take a boat trip to are the Bangkok Noi canal, Bangkok Yai canal, Daan canal and Chakphra canal. 1000 - 1500 Baht. Be prepared to bargain, but do not pay more than around 1000 - 1500 Baht for a two-hour trip  ( without any stops ).

Another option is the boat service from Tha Chang pier. It operates every morning from 6.30 AM till 11 AM and departs every half hour ( or when it has enough passengers ). Boat fare is only 30 Baht per person and you will visit an orchard and a floating market.


Bangkok Page 62, Parks and Monuments and other places of Interest in Thonburi
Bangkok Page 64, Floating Markets in Thonburi, Bangkok