Boats of varying shapes and sizes ply Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River, but none of them make their presence known quite like the raucous long tail boat. Powered by an unmuffled car or truck engine with a propeller attached to a long shaft resembling a tail, the narrow boat doesn’t slip silently along the murky river. Instead, the long tail boat makes a bold statement, buzzing and splashing through the water.
Developed in Thailand decades ago as a cheap and simple means of transportation, a ride in the rainbow-coloured long tail boat offers an authentic Thai experience.
Explore Bangkok’s Canals By Long Tail Boat
At one time, Bangkok was crisscrossed with man-made canals, also known as khlongs. Hence Bangkok’s historical nickname “Venice of the East”. Over time, canals were filled in to make way for roads, but this didn’t occur everywhere in the city.
Thonburi, the former capital, hasn’t experienced the rapid development seen elsewhere in Bangkok. This neighborhood, located west of the Chao Phraya River, is still accessible by canal. If you explore Bangkok by long tail boat, visit the Thonburi neighborhood to see how Bangkok residents used to live, and the people in Thonburi still do.
A ride in a skinny long tail boat, with its canoe-like hull, isn’t just an authentic experience. The boat is also the perfect size for exploring Thonburi’s network of narrow canals.
Here you can cruise past dilapidated houses threatening to plunge into the murky water, stop alongside paint-peeled wooden sampan’s selling trinkets or food to hungry river-workers (including our long tail driver), and visit the charming Taling Chan Floating Market.
After browsing through the tempting food and drink stalls, be sure to purchase food for the catfish in the canal. They are ravenous!
If the gleaming Kawasaki motorcycles housed in tumbledown lean-tos and supersize iMacs glowing in the dimly lite stilt houses along the canal are signs, the future is coming to Thonburi. But for now, exploring this part of Bangkok by long tail boat feels a lot like traveling back in time.
Explore Bangkok by Long Tail Boat – Travel Tips
- If you want to explore Bangkok by long tail boat, plan at least a two-hour tour. We paid 1800 Thai Baht for two adults and two children for a two-hour tour.
- We reserved our tour through the concierge at The Peninsula Bangkok and the long tail boat driver picked us up at the hotel dock.