independentguide

for the independent traveler by independent travelers

Bangkok – the world of the khlongs

Posted by dan on January 15, 2011

Dragon boat at Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn

Dragon boat at Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn

Bangkok – or as locally called, Khrung Thep, the City of Angels – was built on the banks of the meandering Chao Phraya river. Much of the land was crisscrossed by little channels – known as khlong – and houses, even all neighborhoods, were built on wooden poles. Most of the waterways in central Bangkok have been filled up, but just across the river from the Khao San road area there are still larger areas intact. The fleet of the Royal Barges is also housed here, which is open to the public. Getting around on the water, even for longer distances within the city, there are several options from cheap public boats to water taxis, and there are also organized cruises.

You can get to the Royal Barges from the Khao San Road area by a little ferry. The pier is in a little lane, off the major road that runs parallel to the river. From the same pier you can board a regular ‘water bus’ to all the way to Silom Road – faster than on the road by a regular bus for the same price.
There is also a frequent little ferry between Wat Po and Wat Arun. The pier is bigger and more obvious, with several Thai restaurants and vendors around.

Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, looks different than Wat Po and the temples around Wat Phra Kaeo, as it was built in Khmer style. Its massive stupa looks  impressive from the base, and it is covered with carvings and sculptures with obvious Hindu influence. Well worth taking the ferry ride.

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