Bangkok Canal Boats Rss feed Twitter button Facebook button

In the past, Bangkok was known as the Venice of the East because of its many canals, called khlong in Thai. At that time, there were no cars and paved roads so many people, including food vendors, who lived along the canals, used small wooden boats with a paddle as their main mode of transportation.

When I was young, I lived next to Saen Saeb canal in Bangkok, where some food vendors paddled up and down the waterway. All we had to do to buy noodle dishes and iced drinks, was to walk down to our private pier, which was just a tiny wooden platform.

In the early mornings, we could also offer food to a monk who did his alms round in a small boat.

Buddhist monk does his alms round on a small boat in Thailand.
Photo credit: Christopher Michel

Nowadays it is a rare scene in Bangkok. Saen Saeb canal has become a main route for passenger boats. However, it's still common that monks paddle to receive alms in waterfront communities such as Amphawa district in Samutsongkhram province.

Saen Saeb Canal Express Boat

This express boat service started in 1990. Today there is a total of 70 boats, featuring rows of wooden benches. Each vessel can transport 80 to 120 passengers.

Saen Saeb canal express boat in Bangkok.

Operating hours are approximately from 5:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., but on weekends the services end an hour earlier. The boats depart every 3-10 minutes. However, in my experience, during the day when there are few passengers you may have to wait longer.

The fare is 10-20 baht, depending on how far you travel. The ticket conductor walks on the rim of the boat to collect the fares.

Canal Boat Lines

The Saen Saeb Canal Express Boat network is 18 kilometers long and divided into 2 lines. The Golden Mount Line, also called the West Line, is shorter than the NIDA Line, which is also called the East line. It takes about 1 hour to travel from one end to the other.

A canal boat in Bangkok at Pratunam pier.

The two lines join at Pratunam Pier, which is an interchange pier that is only a short walk from Central World and many other shopping malls in Ratchaprasong shopping district.

Here is a link to a route map for both lines, including comprehensive information on all the piers in the entire network.

Golden Mount Line (West Line)

The Golden Mount Line has 5 piers. It’s the line you take to go shopping at Siam Paragon, Siam Square (Saphan Huachang Pier) and Bobae Market (Bobae Pier).

From Saphan Huachang Pier, you can go to MBK shopping center. In addition, there is a walkway from the pier, along the canal to Jim Thompson’s House, home of the Thai silk legacy, in Soi Kasemsan 2. This is the place for anyone who loves traditional Thai-style teak houses, Asian art, antique collection and Thai silk.

The final stop on the Golden Mount Line is the Panfa Leelard pier, that is near the Temple of the Golden Mount, called Wat Saket in Thai. It's not far from Khao San Road, which is a well-known backpacker street.

NIDA Line (East Line)

The Nida Line has 22 piers. The route passes commercial and shopping districts like Chit Lom, Witthayu, Nana Nuea, Charn Issara, Saphan Asoke, Thong Lo, The Mall 3 and Ramkhamhaeng University.

The final stop on the NIDA Line is the Wat Sriboonreung pier, which is near the National Institute of Development known as NIDA.

Pier Information

At each pier there is a blue information board in Thai and English, with the pier number, W1-W5 and E1-E22, at the top.

The information boards feature a route map, an area map, the boat schedule, the fares and information on bus connections. Some big piers have benches while the smaller ones may only have a platform.

Canal Boat Tips

Make sure you know the name of the pier, or the pier number, where you plan to get off. Some of the piers have similar names. For example, Ramkhamhaeng 29 and Ramkhamhaeng University, as well as The Mall Bang Kapi and Bang Kapi.

You always have to change boats at Pratunam Pier. The Golden Mount Line uses smaller boats than the NIDA Line. Just show the conductor your ticket.

For safety reasons, make sure that the boat is docked before you enter and leave the vessel. In other words, wait until the ticket conductor has tied the rope to the pole and the boat is parallel to the platform.

It’s not recommended to carry many bags when traveling on the express boats, since you may drop your belongings in the water.

Even though the canal boats are equipped with canvas, you may get sprayed with water. The water in the canals is quite dirty and can even be smelly. Therefore, some people don't like to travel on the express boats.

If you want to play it safe, sit in the middle of the boat and make sure the canvases on the sides are pulled up. This way, a canal boat ride can be one of your most memorable experiences from Bangkok, just like riding a tuk tuk in the air pollution and heat.

Suggested Reading:   Thai Local Taxis   Travel By Bus

Thailand Breeze > Travel & Places > Bangkok Canal Boats

All Rights Reserved ©2009-2016

Design by OS Templates