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The canals of Thonburi

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The most popular way to explore the sights of Thonburi is by boat, taking in Wat Arun and the Royal Barge Museum, then continuing along Thonburi’s network of small canals. The easiest option is to take a fixed-price trip from one of the piers on the Bangkok side of the Chao Phraya, most conveniently from Tha Chang near Wat Pho or the River City pier off Thanon Charoen Krung. You can also charter your own longtail from these piers and others such as Tha Phra Arthit in Banglamphu and Tha Sathorn, and from many five-star riverside hotels, but bear the prices listed below in mind when negotiating and be specific about your itinerary.

Many tours include visits to one of Thonburi’s two main floating markets, both of which are heavily touristed and rather contrived. Wat Sai floating market is very small, very commercialized and worth avoiding; Taling Chan floating market is also fairly manufactured but more fun, though it only operates on Saturdays and Sundays. Taling Chan market is held on Khlong Chak Phra, in front of Taling Chan District Office, a couple of kilometres west of Thonburi train station, and can also be reached by taking bus #79 from Banglamphu. For a more authentic floating-market experience, consider heading out of Bangkok to Amphawa, in Samut Songkhram province.

Arguably more photogenic, and certainly a lot more genuine, are the individual floating vendors who continue to paddle from house to house in Thonburi, touting anything from hot food to plastic buckets. You’ve a good chance of seeing some of them in action on almost any longtail boat tour on any day of the week, particularly in the morning.

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