Bangkok traffic is a part of the daily struggle when you need to move about the city. The most common way to avoid the traffic is to use public transport via the BTS, MRT or Airport Link lines. During rush hour, these three train lines often are overcrowded as well. If you want to save some money then the cheapest way for you to travel around Bangkok is by bus. This can be difficult if you don’t know the specific bus numbers or if you cannot speak basic Thai. Another option is to hop on a motorcycle taxi which can travel almost everywhere quickly, but finding a bike could be difficult and there are often queues of people waiting.
Apart from the bus, MRT, BTS, ARL, and motorcycle taxi, there is one lesser known transport available which is via the canal boat or the Khlong Boat. It’s often quite faster as there is no traffic on the canals. Rider beware the canal water is quite dirty and could be potentially unsafe for riders who don’t have their sea legs. This transport method is still growing and moves about 60,000 passengers per day. It’s operated by Khlong Saen Seap Express Boat service- a water bus operating on the Saen Saep canal in Bangkok right next to the city’s traffic-congested commercial districts. The daily operating hours are 5:30 to 20:30 (19:00 on weekends). Prices range from 10 to 20 baht as it depends on the distance traveled and prices are increased by increments of 2 baht depending on the distance. Boats run every 20 minutes or less.
Photo credits: Flickr
The Khlong Boat service runs on two lines- the western line (terminating at Golden Mount) and the eastern line (terminating at Wat Si Bunrueang, near the National Institute of Development Administration). The interchange, at Pratunam pier, feels seamless and tickets are valid on both lines so make sure you keep your ticket stub. While other transport options are busy during rush hours, Khlong Boats are convenient to travel for shopping, sightseeing etc. There are some famous tourist hotspots en route and you can just hop off at the nearest pier to explore that area.
Some Tourist Hotspots Served by the Khlong Boats
Pratunam is a thrifty shoppers paradise and offers the opportunity to buy a lot of things together. You can find all type of accessories from Platinum Fashion Mall or Platinum Market. For electronics gadgets, Pantip Plaza is a heaven! Many gadget lovers visit this market to buy computer and smartphones or accessories at a reasonable price. To get here, hop off at Pratunam Central Pier.
Siam offers higher end shopping and you can find everything from street fashion to branded merchandisers here. Luxurious and big shopping malls located around this area including MBK, Siam Paragon, Siam Discovery, Siam Square and Siam Centre. To get here, hop off at Saphan Hua Chang Pier.
The famous Erawan shrine and many gourmet eateries along Lang Suan Road located along another stop on the Klong boat route. To get here, hop off at Chidlom Pier.
The Mall Bangkapi Pier
If you want to visit the Mall Bangkapi or the Bangkapi district, you can take the line almost to the end where you will find even more shopping and eateries. To get here, hop off at Mall Bangkapi Pier.
Asoke has Terminal 21 which is famous for shopping and Soi Cowboy for nightlife entertainment. Just up the road is Nana and offers lovely Arabian, Indian, Bangladeshi foods. If you want to give them a try just stop into one of the many restaurants located between Sukhumvit Soi 3 and Soi 11.
Photo credits: Flickr
To wrap up just be mindful when you are getting on or off the Khlong Boats, as it can be a bit shaky and we recommend you hold the rope and get quickly on it. The canal water is dirty and sometimes a bit smelly. Water can splash on your body so be careful if you don’t want to get dirty and for some, it may cause irritation on your skin. If you can cover your face and stand/sit in the middle, as this will be the best spot to avoid splashes.