Much has been made of the transportation efficiency of the BTS and MRT systems of Bangkok. But one of the oldest, cheapest and speediest forms of commuting in the city never attracts much attention.
Klong San Saep is a canal that flows through the heart of Bangkok. The Klong is also the conduit for water taxis that speed commuters in and out of the city to their homes in the suburbs.
In the central business district, the entire length of the line runs from Phan Fa Lilat, near the Victory Monument and runs parallel alongside Petchaburi Road. Near the Vijit School at turns left and runs along Ramkamhaeng Road up to Wat Sribooreung.
Using the Water Taxis to Commute
Although they are quick and cheap, with the maximum fare being only twenty Baht, Using the water taxis daily as a method of commuting is not for everyone. They use large, powerful centrally-mounted diesel engines that emit a constant smelly exhaust out the rear of the boat.
Although the engines in the passenger compartment have cowlings over them, they radiate heat that makes the ride uncomfortable on a humid and hot day in the city. They rattle, and they’re loud.
It can be challenging to get on and off them. On the older models of water taxis, passengers had to duck underneath the awning and step up onto a narrow railing before disembarking. This is why they’re not suitable for young children, the infirm and the elderly.
You also always run the risk of getting a face-full of dirty klong water as the boats pass each other, and rained on if you’re forced to stand near one of the openings. They also can get very crowded during rush hour. This proves they’re still a popular commute option despite their drawbacks.
Getting an Upgrade
In the last several years, the company that runs the water taxi concession has started to upgrade the boats. They’ve installed walkways between the seats and a central stairway that makes getting on and off much easier. Some of the newer boats also have ventilation panels in the roof that makes commuting on a hot day much more pleasant.
As the improvements continue, the water taxis will become more attractive and accessible as a quick, cheap and colourful commute option for travelers and Bangkok’s residents.