Hidden Bangkok: A Day Tour of Thonburi & Bangkok's Canals

Steps away from the hustle and bustle of Bangkok is Thonburi - a place where traditional Thai living still exists, with its famed maze of canals and temples. 


Open any guide book, or perform any google search of “what to do in Bangkok” and you’ll find all the usual  suspects - visit Ayutthaya, stroll the Grand Palace, take a canal cruise, visit a roof top bar, and eat street food. Don’t get me wrong, these are all  popular for a reason, but we wanted to see the other side of Bangkok. We wanted to see where the locals live and get a true sense of the daily life in Bangkok. 

After many searches we came across a brief description of a canal cruise offered by Asian Trails. We didn’t recognize any places in the itinerary and phrases such as “rural side of the mega city” and “walk through the narrow streets of a village” grabbed our attention. We were promised a unique look at Bangkok, and a chance to see what “across the river” is like in Thonburi. 

With our private guide, we set off on our half day tour, to explore Thonburi. We were picked up in a private car and taken to the pier, where we hopped on a long tail boat and began our adventure, cruising through the canals and river. 


Visiting Thonburi

Located just across the Chao Phraya river is what once was the capitol of Siam - Thonburi. Still considered part of Bangkok, Thonburi is the peaceful, calm and cool side of the river. Basically it’s the complete opposite of the Bangkok skyline, we’re all used to seeing. There are no skyscrapers, no rooftop bars and definitely no hustle and bustle that we all expect from modern Bangkok. The traditional Thai way of living on the canal still exists here and you can still see the floating vendors, farms and homes as you cruise through the canal, making your way to the various sites. 


What You Can Expect To See

  • Chinese Gong Wu Shrine, which is an ancient Chinese shrine dating back over 270 years. It’s fascinating to see all the extremely old statues and adornments mixed with the kitschy new ornaments.  
  • Princess Mother Memorial Park & Museum gives a very in-depth look into what was the private life of the Royal Queen, or the Princess Mother. The love and endearment the people of Thailand have for her is beautifully shown throughout the grounds. The museum has touching photos and personal exhibits that show her lifespan and really made us understand the impact one person can have on a community. 
  • Visit Santa Cruz Church and walk through the narrow lanes of the nearby village. Although we weren’t able to go inside the church the surrounding neighborhood was quite picturesque and charming. 
  • Walk around the temples of Wat Anongkharam and Wat Rakhang. Make sure to spend some time walking around the temples and don’t be intimidated to join the locals and meditate in front of buddha. It was so inspiring and relaxing to sit in silence and just get lost in my thoughts…not to mention they had giant fans going at full speed. 
  • To get around Thonburi you have your own private long boat that takes you to the various sites. You also get to cruise through the canals and see what life on the river is like.
  • Lunch at Supatra River House. You will get a traditional Thai tasting menu for lunch, in a setting that overlooks the river. Although the traditional Thai food served at lunch was great, I’m still wishing I had more of the street food from the market right outside. So make sure to save room, or pick up a bunch of snacks for later

To learn more about this tour, make sure to visit Asian Trails website: