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Boat Trips in Thailand

With rivers dissecting its land, and wrapped up by the Andaman Sea and the South Sea, Thailand offers endless opportunities for boat-trip lovers. Wherever your destination in Thailand, whether the city of Bangkok or the beautiful beaches and islands down south, you can certainly add boating activities to your itinerary.

Such activities include border-crossing cruises, river boating, city canal rides and long-tail boat rides at beach destinations. Below we help you discover more about the possibilities.

Highlights

  • Cruise across the border between Thailand and Laos
  • Enjoy various sights of Thailand from a river-boat
  • Explore the city of Bangkok via its ‘klong’
  • Discover more of the southern Thai islands by kayak
  • Spend quality family-time with beach activities in Krabi, Phuket or Koh Samui

Border-Crossing Cruises in Thailand

A boat journey on the Mekong River is one of the most popular ways to cross the border between Thailand and Laos. Below you can discover how and when to join a border-crossing cruise.

Popular Cruise Route

The 300 kilometer-long river cruise between Thailand and Laos begins in Thailand at Chiang Khlong-Houei Say (Huay Xai) and goes to Luang Prabang in Laos.

If your travel time is short, you can take a six- to seven-hour boat, but if you’re keen to spend more time on board, we recommend the slower boat, on which you can experience and discover more of Thailand.

Highlights

If you like certain kinds of comfort and want to immerse yourself more in the beauty of Thailand and Laos, a slow boat is recommended. During the cruise, your border crossing, accommodation, meals, and local village visits are well managed by the provider.

The best time to cruise is from November to February when the weather is cooler, but the days are shorter, and mornings sometimes foggy. March to May is warmer, with May the hottest. June to November is the rainy season and on some days it can rain for a few hours.

Recommended Boat: Luang Say Cruise

Choice of boat depends on your budget and personal preference. We strongly recommend, however, that you choose a boat from an authorized provider with high safety standards, such as Luang Say Cruise.

Luang Say Cruise offers an all-inclusive package for a three-day cruise that includes three meals a day, two nights of accommodation at Kamu Lodge and the romantic yet luxurious Luang Say Lodge, guided visits to local villages, and group insurance. If you prefer a shorter cruise trip, a two-day cruise is also available.

River Boating in Thailand

With rivers winding through Thailand, river-cruising provides a unique perspective on the country. For visitors, boating on the River Kwai, the Chao Phraya River or the Mae Ping River is usually the best choice.

River Kwai

Twisting and turning on the Kwai River, you will visit Phra Pathom Chedi, the largest pagoda in Southeast Asia, see the panoramic mountain view of Kanchanaburi from a beautiful monastery, and explore the big Buddha statue and temples of Tiger Cave Temple (Wat Tham Sua).

To fully explore the Kwai River, we recommend a four-day or a seven-day river cruise package from Cruise Asia. It departs twice a week, Monday and Thursday, in the downstream and upstream directions.

Chao Phraya River

Chao Phraya River cruises are north of Bangkok. When going north, you can watch how the city and skyscraper views are slowly replaced by small industrial buildings and factories, local stilt houses, and possibly some floating restaurants.

You could take a long tail boat as a short transfer between attractions. Chao Phraya Express boats serve popular tours on the river.

Mae Ping River

Mae Ping River cruises start from Wat Chai Mongkol and go to the really rural Thailand in the north. Their river boats depart every hour from 9 am to 5 pm, and cruises last 2 hours. They provide free pick-up from your hotel if you stay in Chiang Mai city.

In the morning, while sipping your freshly brewed coffee, you will pass the foliage of thick trees from bank to bank on a wide waterway.

The highlight of the trip is when the boat reaches the Thai Farmer’s House, where you can learn more about Thailand’s basic food - rice, local herbs, fruit, and fish. You may also try the signature local creamy curry soup ‘khao soi’.

City Canal Rides in Bangkok

Small rivers and man-made canals are locally called ‘klong’. Klongs used to embroider Bangkok as its main means of transportation, but some succumbed and were filled, becoming busy streets following Bangkok’s rapid economic growth. Others, however, still play a huge part as tourist attractions in the daily lives of locals.

Klongs or city canal rides offer travelers insight into local lifestyles, floating markets, and houses. Riding on klongs also provides a quick way to enjoy Bangkok’s city skyline without having to fight traffic jams on the road.

Popular Canal Ride Route

The city canal cruise provides you with various sights of Bangkok. To explore the klongs, it’s recommended to rent a long tail boat for about 1500 to 1800 baht. This can carry up to 6 people. You can have a flexible itinerary and stop at any attractions that interest you, including temples and some city landmarks.

During your canal rides, you can visit Wat Khun Chan Temple, an unusual community art center - The Artist’s house (Baan Silapin), orchid farm, Grand Palace Wat Phra Kaew, and the massive reclining Buddha statue of Wat Pho.

You can also combine the klong rides with floating market visits, such as to the Maeklong floating market.

Highlights

The city canal cruise can last 5 hours to a whole day, according to your preference. It starts from the downtown Bangkok area, where you can first admire the view of the city skyline, and proceeds to narrower canals with different views.

Sit back in your passenger seat with your camera ready. Visit the temples and learn about their history from your guide.

If you are thirsty or hungry, stop floating vendors for a delicious chicken kebab or for fresh fruit. Interact with kids who might be swimming at the edge of the canals, and create great memories.

Recommended Operators

We recommend that you combine destinations to maximize your experience. BKK Tour offers unique combinations of canal rides and floating market visits on their one-day tours.

The tours start and finish at Khlong Toey Port in Bangkok. They first take you to visit Maeklong Railway market, where you can see how people trade on a railway.

It will be an unforgettable experience to see how vendors arrange their stalls and awnings seconds before the train comes. The second destination is Thailand’s biggest floating market, Damnoen Saduak, and a visit to the Tha Kha traditional market.

See our market guide to learn more about these traditional markets.

Beach Destination Boating

Islands and beaches such as at Krabi, Phuket and Koh Samui are known for their breath-taking views, but they have more to offer.

If you plan to do a multi-island tour, you may also want to try other water activities such as banana boats, kayaking, or sailing on a private yacht.

Kayaking

One of our recommended sites for kayaking is Krabi Island. The tour begins in the afternoon.

Kayak along Thalane Bay or Phang Nga Bay as the sun sets, during a warm afternoon. Paddle your kayak to the tall green limestone karst cliffs nearby, but beware of the monkeys. Reach the quiet canyon and enjoy its tranquility, then paddle back. Finish your kayaking under the sunset, and prepare for a beach-barbecue to wrap up the tour.

Banana Boats

Banana boats are banana-shaped long rubber boats with footstep bars on each side. They can usually carry up to 6 people, and are suitable for a family or group of friends. Most of the beaches such as Pattaya, Cha Am, Hua Hin, Bangsaen, and Phuket have banana boat rides on their beaches.

After all passengers are seated and ready, the banana boat will be playfully pulled from the beach by a speedboat going at different speeds.

The climax is when the speedboat purposely pulls a very quick turn to make all the passengers fall into the water. It is safe, however, as there will be a boat there ready to help passengers afterwards.

Boating in Thailand with Asia Highlights

Boating in Thailand provides a good way to enrich you travel story. It can be done at any destination such as Bangkok, for klong rides, or in the old city of Chiang Mai. Get started with your trip-planning now, using the contact us button.

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