In the days before Bangkok was covered with roads and trains swooped over the metropolis, canals were the main way of getting around the city. These canals, or khlongs as they are known in Thai, still run through many of the sections of the city and taking a trip in a narrow boat is an interesting way to see a new side of Bangkok.
A public ferry route runs along Khlong Saen Saeb starting from near the Golden Mount in the Banglampu district of Bangkok to The Mall Bangkapi. It costs just a few baht to take the canal boat from the first stop until the last stop and the public canal boats pass by a number of popular areas of the city and attractions along the way.
Khlong Saen Saeb
Khlong Saen Saeb is served by around a hundred long, narrow motor driven boats, each of which is fitted with some forty or fifty wooden seats. The boats typically run from 5:30 to 20:30 each day and the fare ranges for 8 to 18 baht, depending on how far passengers wish to travel.
There are 23 piers along Khlong Saen Saeb and around 60,000 people travel along this canal each and every day. Boats run every 15 or twenty minutes, which means that passengers who have just missed a boat will never have long to wait for the next one.
After picking up passengers at the Panfa Pier near the Golden Mount, the boat pauses at the second pier, which is situated close to Bobae market. This is a good place to shop for wholesale clothing and other goods.
The next stop is the Charoenpol Pier, after which the boat passes under a bridge to travel to the Saphan Hua Chang Pier, which is close to attractions such as Jim Thompson’s House, MBK, Siam Paragon and Siam Square.
The fifth stop is Pratunam Pier and passengers wishing to continue their journey must change boats here. Next, we come to the Chidlom Pier before heading onwards to the Wireless Road Pier, the Nana Nua Pier and the Nana Chard Pier.
Asok Petchaburi Pier
The tenth stop is the Asok Petchaburi Pier, which connects with the Asok MRT station. Pier 11 is Prasanmit, while pier 12 is Baan Don Mosque. Passengers who wish to explore Thonglor can get off the boat at pier 13, while pier 14 is the Charn Issara, which is located close to a number of large office buildings.
The boat stops briefly at the Saphan Khlong Tan pier before sailing slowly past The Mall Rama 3, Wat Noi, Ramkamhaeng 29, Wat Tapeleela, Ramkamhaeng University and Mahadthai. The boat then pauses briefly at Wat Klang (pier 22), before terminating at The Mall Bangkapi. Passengers who take the boat to the very end of the khlong will find a large shopping mall as well as a food court, several cinemas and a water park.
One of the great things about taking the 3 is that it allows people who wish to travel through some of the older parts of the city without getting stuck in Bangkok’s notorious traffic jams. This can be a particularly useful way to get around during rush hours, although the boats can get extremely crowded at these times and passengers may find the experience a little overwhelming.
By Kirsty Turner