Thailand Country Guide

Getting Around


By Boat

One of the Thais' many names for themselves is "jao naam" meaning the Water Lords. From the river expresses of Bangkok to the fishing trawlers of Phuket, boats remain an indispensable way of getting around many parts of Thailand.

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River boats in Bangkok by Éclusette
Perhaps the most identifiably Thai boat is the long - tail "reua hang yao". This is a long, thin wooden boat with the propeller at the end of a long "tail" stretching from the boat. This makes the boats supremely maneuverable even in shallow waters but are a little underpowered for longer trips and you'll get wet if it's even a little choppy. Long-tails usually act as taxis that can be chartered but prices vary widely - figure on 300-400 baht for a few hours' rental or up to 1500 baht for a full day. In some locations like Krabi, long-tails run along set routes and charge fixed prices per passenger.

Water bus in Bangkok by Achp ru

Modern air-conditioned speedboat services and sometimes ferries (departure every 30 mins) run from the Surat Thani to popular islands like Koh Samui and Ko Pha Ngan. Truly long-distance services (e.g. Bangkok to any other major city) along the river have, however, effectively ceased to exist as buses, planes and even trains are faster. Safety measures are rudimentary and ferries and speedboats do sink occasionally, so avoid overloaded boats in poor weather and take notice of the nearest life jackets when on board.

Express boat on the Chao Phraya River by Heinrich Damm

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