Exploring the Backwaters of Bangkok

On March 21, 2014 by Oren and Cassie

Bangkok blew us away. I’m not quite sure what we were expecting when we landed in the Thai capital, but it certainly wasn’t a culturally rich metropolis that links it past, present, and future beautifully. We explored the city on a Backwaters of Bangkok tour.

Bangkok is a major hub for travel through Southeast Asia. It’s easy to get here from anywhere in the world, and it’s easy to go from here to any spot in the region. That makes it one of the biggest stopping points for travelers. Don’t just pass through here. Explore the city. There’s a lot to see, as we wrote about in 48 Hours in Bangkok.

BACKWATERS OF BANGKOK

If you have some spare time, consider exploring the city with a tour. We chose the Backwaters of Bangkok tour with Visit Beyond to get a feel for the less touristy parts of the city. We signed up for the tour at Lubd Siam Square where we stayed – Visit Beyond has a desk there. We hopped on a longboat and sped down the Chao Praya River with 5 or 6 other people. The river is impressively large, and it blurs the line between Bangkok’s commercial present and its historic past.

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A view of Bangkok from the river.

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And a view of Cassie and me from the longboat.

We headed west into the Klong canals of the Thonburi district. The commercial hub of the city and the life of Khaosan Road felt like a world away. All is quiet along the canals, and we are transported to a different era. Wooden homes on stilts line the canals, mingling with thick trees and bushes. This is the Bangkok you don’t hear much about – the quiet neighborhoods in the bustling city.

We see Wat Khun Chan temple long before we get there. The spires of the Buddhist temple are visible from hundreds of yards away. The temple is even more impressive up close, where statues of Buddha and religious buildings tower over the surrounding area. We truly felt the deep respect the Thai people have for their temples and their religion here.

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A floating convenience store! How… convenient.

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Two massive statues at Wat Khun Chan.

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Another view of Wat Khun Chan.

Our tour guide then took us to an orchid and flower farm. I’m not a big flower guy (just ask Cassie about the last time I bought her flowers… if she can remember back that far), but it was still pretty cool to see how they grow the flowers here.

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Cassie tells me these are orchids. I’m skeptical.

TEMPLE DELIGHTS

From there, our longboat brought us back across the Chao Praya River, where we hopped on the Temple Delights tour. Our guide brought us straight to the Grand Palace, and it was absolutely incredible. The Grand Palace is the official home of the King of Thailand, although it’s only used for royal ceremonies and state functions now. That means you get to visit and walk around the incredible grounds!! This is a must-see for anyone coming through Bangkok. Just bring long pants, or you have to rent something obnoxious and bright red that looks a lot like a pair of pajama pants. I’m talking from personal experience here.

Each building here could have its own blog post – that’s how awesome everything is here. Every wall, every door, every walkway is art. There are intricate details wherever you turn, so take your time here and let it all soak in.

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A hint of the Grand Palace’s beauty.

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Hitting your head with wet flowers is a blessing in Buddhism. Cassie is blessed!

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I have never been this relaxed… or this gold.

Our final stop of the afternoon was a short tuk-tuk ride away. We went to Wat Pho, the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. This temple is just cool. An enormous reclining Buddha fills the cavernous space. It takes a few minutes to walk around, and there are a few great spots to take pictures.

Overall, our tour with Visit Beyond was great, but be ready for a long day. There is a lot of walking and make sure to bring sunglasses and a hat. There are options for 1/2 day and full-day tours. We saw a lot of the city and got a great feel for its history, its people, and its culture. We would absolutely recommend the Backwaters of Bangkok and Temple Delights tour.

-O.L.

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One Response to “Exploring the Backwaters of Bangkok”

  • We remember the fun we had screaming around the klongs and canals of Bangkok in a loud, smelly longtail boat. Visited the snake farm and the Royal Barge museum. Wonderful way to explore Bangkok…

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