Tuk Tuk and Canal Tour Bangkok
Exploring a different side of Thailand's capital city.
Bangkok is a busy bustling city with plenty of fun things for kids to do. I was reluctant to spend my time here with kids going to specific family attractions and theme parks, but instead wanted to introduce them to the cultural side of this fun and fascinating city.
So I was delighted to find a family-specific Bangkok day tour from tour company Expique. This Bangkok city tour promised to be culturally interesting, but with enough kid-friendly activities to ensure that the kids stayed entertained. And with our sightseeing transport options including both longtail boat and tuk-tuk, it also promised to be a fun adventure!
Chao Praya River
We met our Bangkok tour guide Jo Jo at the Saphan Taksin Bridge, and kicked off our Bangkok family tour by climbing aboard our longtail boat setting off down the Chao PHraya River at speed. I was pleased to see that Expique had provided child-sized life jackets, as these can so often be lacking in Asia tours.
The Chao PHraya river is the major river in Bangkok and whizzing down in your own longtail boat amongst the public boats and hotel shuttle boats is a fun way to take in glimpses of some of the main sights of the city, including Wat Arun, the Grand Palace and the famous Mandarin Oriental hotel.
Bangkok was once known as the ‘Venice of the East’ thanks to its large network of canals during the 18th and 19th Centuries. However many of these canals were filled in to create roads with the growth and urbanization of Bangkok.
One area where many of these khlongs
or canals remain intact is Thonburi. Located across the other side of the Chao Phraya River from the Grand Place, Thonburi remained an independent province from Bangkok until 1971 and so escaped much of the modernization of the rest of the city.
Thonburi has therefore maintained much of its original rustic charm, and so it was here that we headed on our longtail boat. We cruised the criss-cross of Thonburi canals and admired the old wooden bridges, ramshackle teak buildings and traditional temples that remain alongside newer developments.
This was a side of Bangkok I had not seen before and I would definitely recommend a Thonburi canal tour if you’re heading to Bangkok.
Khlong Bang Luang – Baan Silapin (Artist’s House)
A little hidden treasure along this Thai canal is the Baan Silapin or Artist’s House. Housed in a 200 year old teak house, this artist’s community is a treasure trove of fun for the kids.
There are traditional puppets to admire, and an upstairs gallery full of art to browse through. You can even watch the artists at work. My kids kicked off their visit feeding the fish with a huge bag of fish food our guide bought for us.
Next up was mask painting, which they both really got into.
Followed by a puppet show. The puppet show is held here every afternoon at 2 pm except Wednesdays. The show is based on the traditional story of Hanuman, which we have seen performed several times throughout Southeast Asia, but this performance was much more fun than most. Not only were the puppet troupe talented, but they were a lot of fun, involving the audience and eliciting a lot of laughs.
Flower Market Bangkok
Our longtail boat dropped us off at the Bangkok Flower Market. This famous 24-hour Bangkok market offers an amazing sensory overload of smells, sights and sounds, with mountains of beautiful fresh flowers, fruits and vegetables competing for your attention.
While we admired the abundance of produce and flowers, our guide Jo Jo bought a large bunch of lotus flowers and taught us all about lotus flower folding, a practice people all around Thailand do for presenting flowers in many different beautiful ways at the temple.
I think we did pretty well!
Bangkok Tuk Tuk Tour
Next up in our Bangkok city tour itinerary was a tuk-tuk ride. We were picked up by our tuk-tuks from the flower market and whizzed through the traffic to our first stop: the Golden Mount Temple. The kids loved being in the tuk-tuks, and being in a tuk-tuk in Bangkok is a great way to take in the city’s vibe.
The Golden Mount Temple
The Temple of the Golden Mount, or Wat Saket, is one of Bangkok’s oldest temples and at 77-metre high is one of the best places to take in the views of Bangkok. The temple is famous for its huge gilded chedi
that presides over the city. Housed within the chedi
are some sacred Buddha relics.
This was one of our favourite temples we visited in Bangkok. The views are amazing, and there are plenty of bells to ring and gongs to chime on the way up, meaning that the kids don’t even notice that they had to climb over 300 steps to get to the top!
Dinner at Krua Apsorn
The last thing on our tour itinerary was a fantastic Thai meal at a local restaurant, Krua Apsorn. Jo Jo ordered up a complete feast of amazing Thai dishes, including an incredible crab omelette (you have to try it!), fish cakes, deep fried tofu, fried kingfish with mango salad among other delicious dishes.
I found out later that this is one of the most renowned restaurants in Bangkok for authentic and affordable Thai food. What a find! Thank you to Jo Jo for introducing us!