I love to explore cities on foot. Especially during Covid, walking is a great way to get around and discover new areas. Recently, I have shared my walk along Khlong Ong Ang and in the Portuguese quarter. Today, I am taking you along canals again, but in a different part of town. It will take us to beautiful hidden gems which are not on the usual tourist bucket list. You can find a map of the tour with all the sights at the bottom of this article.
This guide is based on a walk with my friend and expert for all things related to Thailand, sightseeing and history (and many more) Martin Cowling. Thank you, for sharing your knowledge and taking me on your walk.
Start your walk at Khlong Saen Saeb near the National Stadium BTS station. There is a ferry station at the canal called Hua Chang (Siam Square) which is the perfect starting point.
Head West along the canal until you reach the Jim Thompson House. This museum used to be the home of the silk trader Jim Thompson who built the residence bringing multiple wooden residential houses to this plot. Today, Jim Thompson is a popular fashion and home textiles brand known for its silk products. The story behind its founder is particularly interesting: Rumour has it that Thompson was a CIA-agent who used silk trading as his cover and he mysteriously disappeared in the Malaysian jungle. You can read more about the Jim Thompson House in my article here.
Watch out, as the walkway along the canal is also frequently used by motorcycle drivers.
This walk will show you the extremes of Bangkok – polished and modern residential houses and traditional Thai wooden houses are located side by side.
Even though they have become a rarity, there still are wooden houses on stilts.
You will gain a glimpse into Thai life – children playing by the canal, elderly ladies exchanging the latest gossip, laundry hanging outside to dry.
In addition to the juxtaposition of old and new, you will find street art along the canal as well.
Leave the canal walkway at Banthat Thong Road and walk towards Rama I Road. Pay attention to the mural which will come up on the right near the roundabout at Rama I Road.
Turn right on Rama I Road and follow it until you reach Wat Chai Mongkol.
Keep walking until you reach a bridge over train tracks. I spent quite some time watching a train manoeuvre its way along the tracks and trying to peek into the residential houses right by the tracks.
Keep walking until you reach the canal “Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem”.
I recommend to hop on one of the electric boats. Head down the beautiful walkway. You can board at Yot Se station.
We first took a boat towards Hua Lamphong and at the terminal station changed boats into the other direction.
These boats have been introduced in November 2020. They operate from 6am until 7pm at 15-minute-intervals and the fare is THB 10 (about EUR/USD 0.30). Each boat is equipped with a solar roof to power the motor and lamps.
You will pass by Debsirin School – you cannot miss the red building which looks like a church.
The boat ride takes you along residential areas, government buildings, the United Nations and a market.
Bobae Market stretches along the canal and over the bridges. It is not as known as the Chatuchak Weekend Market but quite interesting to watch from the boat.
The boat ride feels as if we have been taken to another city. It is hard to imagine that we are right in the heart of Bangkok but still far from all the skyscrapers.
Leave the boat at the terminal station at Thewarat Market Pier (just before the Chao Phraya river).
Leave on the left side, you will pass by a small street market. Up ahead is Deva Manor, a historical building unknown to most visitors of Bangkok. It is the former palace of the Prince of Chanthaburi.
It was constructed at the end of the 19th century under King Rama V (also known as King Chulalongkorn) and was a gift to one of his sons, the prince of Chanthaburi, who returned from his studies abroad.
In the 1930s, the palace was divided into three parts by the descendants of the prince. Today, it is owned privately owned and the common areas are open to the public daily from 10am to 4pm (free of charge). For tours through the residence, you can contact Deva Manor via email or their Facebook page.
Across the canal there is Wat Dhevaraj Kunchorn. At first sight, the architecture reminds of the “typical” architecture of temples in Bangkok. The reason is that the Ordination Hall, the so-called “Ubosot” was built in the same style as the Grand Palace Temple (Wat Phra Kaeo) under the reign of King Rama III. When you walk further inside the temple property, you will discover a mix of different architectural styles and buildings.
The temple dates back to 1307, the Ayutthaya Period, and was reconstructed and extended over the centuries.
The Golden Teak Museum is supported by huge golden teak wood columns, each 479 years old. These columns are so wide that two people are needed to embrace one.
Most of the buildings resembling Western architecture are over 100 years old. The wood carvings in pastel colour are truly gorgeous.
Towards the pier, the visitors are immediately taken back to street life in Bangkok – there are small vendors selling flowers for offerings, snacks and souvenirs. Some even sell toads or water snakes.
Head back out of the Wat and walk down Thanon Si Ayutthaya.
On your left, you will pass Hor Wachira Wuthanuson, a building I found really interesting. Unfortunately, I have not found a lot of information about it as yet. I will update this article once I find more. If you happen to know anything about this building, please do share it with me.
Head right onto Samsen Road until you reach Rama VIII Bridge. Head towards the river. On the right, you will see Bang Khun Phrom Palace. Today, this palace belongs to the Bank of Thailand. Originally, the site of the palace was made up of several plots belonging to royalty, aristocracy, laypeople and monasteries. Similar to Deva Manor, King Rama V gave the land to one of his sons – Prince Paribatra Sukhumbhand – when he returned to Thailand in 1903.
The Palace was inspired by European architecture. At the time of construction, European building methods and technologies underwent big changes and new materials were used for construction. Similarly, this palace in Bangkok was built by using bricks and concrete walls. The Mansard roof is made of a solid wood structure covered with interlocking tiles. What I found particularly interesting is the stucco designs which are inspired by European Baroque.
Walk across the street to the Bang of Thailand Learning Center and end your walk with a well-deserved coffee at Pacamara. (Pacamara has made it onto my top coffee places in Bangkok, you can read my article here.)
Special thanks to Martin Cowling who shared his incredible knowledge and walking tour with me. You can follow him on his blog “Wild About Travel”.
More about Bangkok
Neighbourhood Walking Guides: Ari Neighbourhood and Khlong Ong Ang, Portuguese Quarter & Flower Market
All information as of the date of publishing/updating and based on the information on the websites of the respective sights (listed above) and the information provided at the location. We cannot accept responsibility for the correctness or completeness of the data, or for ensuring that it is up to date. All recommendations are based on the personal experience of Elisabeth Steiger, no fees were received by the recommended places above.