The sharper edge to traveling in Asia

WoWasis tours Unknown Bangkok and the Thonburi Klongs

Written By: herbrunbridge - Jan• 16•14

Demons at Wat Arun

Demons at Wat Arun

If you’re like us, you just get those days where you want to see a half day of great stuff, get on the water a bit, then spend the rest of the afternoon having a beer and beating the heat. We just finished taking a tour in Bangkok that gave us just that. The Unknown Bangkok and Thonburi  Klongs (klongs are Thai canals) tour packs a lot of varied and great material into half a day. The activities began at the Chinatown flower market, where wholesalers and individuals alike buy flowers for Buddha, for lovers, for congratulations, and for the dead. The colors are extraordinary, the sellers — like seemingly all vendors in Bangkok — colorful and picturesque in themselves. Anyone’s greatest photo essay ever could be done here in one hour.

Traditional houses line the banks of the Thonburi klongs

Traditional houses line the banks of the Thonburi klongs

The next stop was just a short tuk-tuk ride away to the fruit and vegetable market, which leads the way to the ferry that crosses the Chao Phraya to Wat Arun.

Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) has long been our favorite in Bangkok, with its multiple tiers featuring colorful demons, hanuman monkey people, and warriors. Their highlights are crafted out of colorful ceramic, and you’ll want to time your visit for the morning or late afternoon to catch the sun at the right angle, and which will cause the colors to explode in a riot of color. The Wat Arun Ubisot, adjacent to the north, is a magnificent structure itself in which ordinations are held. You’ll need to go inside to see the murals, among the most intricate in Bangkok. It’s worth taking a half-hour or so to look them over, but be advised that the Ubisot is closed on weekends. 

We wanted the magnificence of Wat Arun and the Ubisot to stay with us for a while, so the 40 minute ride through the klongs at Thonburi  came at a perfect time. The long-tailed boat took us through the Mon and Chak Phra canals, past old Bangkok homes with laundry hanging from their railings, numerous other buildings, and in sight of one monstrously large komodo dragon lizard. Every visitor in Bangkok should experience this riverine world, and seeing it from a long-tailed boat is in many ways much more enjoyable and relaxing that dealing with the bustle inherent in Klong San Sap canal taxis. This boat ride takes you past the site of the weekend floating market, and ends up at the Royal Barges Museum, closed for renovation now, but due to be reopened soon.

This half day tour seemed to have a bit of everything: flower and vegetable markets, an amazing temple, and a fascinating forty minute glimpse of Bangkok’s canal life, complete with mini-dinosaur. And it left the afternoon open for several choices: grab a beer, meander through a crafts market, get a massage at Wat Pho, or take a siesta before a night on the town. Book a tour to see Unknown Bangkok and Thonburi Klongs.

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