|BOATING IN AYUTTHAYA
|This boat tour is designed for the modal tourist who wants to explore the rivers and canals, as well temples and ruins around the city of Ayutthaya, either
by long tail boat or by barge. The tour (anti-clockwise) takes you on a stretch which was once a part of the front city moat, dug for defensive purposes;
follows Khlong Muang or the city canal, in former times a part of the Lopburi River, which in the Ayutthayan era encircled the city; turns at Hua Laem into
the mighty Chao Phraya River or the River of Kings and finally between Wat Rattanachai at Hua Sarapha and Wat Phanan Choeng, steer up north, on a
stretch of the Pa Sak River or Teak Forest River, which find its source in Loei province. The total length of this boat route is 13,5 kilometers.
The Chao Phraya in Ayutthaya is a tidal river and influences the Pa Sak and Lopburi rivers. The current shifts daily, depending on the tide in the Gulf of
Thailand, with an exception at the end of the rainy season, when the floodwaters overrun the tide.
Ayutthaya was a typically a Siamese water-based settlement; one of the characteristics which gave the city its UNESCO World Heritage status.
Unfortunately, Ayutthaya's waterways - the ancient transport and travel facilities - are fast disappearing. Many canals became stagnant, choked with urban
trash or ran dry due to silting and lack of maintenance. Many more were claimed to make way for embankments such as concrete roads. Ayutthaya, “The
Venice of the East", became a far cry. Notwithstanding, a tour around the island is still a wonderful event.
Whether you go for a long tail boat or a small barge is your proper choice. Long tail boats tends to do the tour in a bit more than half an hour, while a barge
does the trip in a more leisurely 1,5 to 2 hours.
Longtail boats called “Rua Hang Yao”, are a common form of water transportation used in Thailand and take their name from the long drive shaft that ends in
a propeller and which is attached directly to rear of a car engine. The tail not only propels the boat but also its steering mechanism. The concept was
developed in Thailand as a simple low cost means of motorizing wooden boats used in rivers, canals and seas, able maneuvering in narrow, shallow waters.
Among the oldest Thai barges is the “rua mat”, distinguished by its duckbill-shaped bow and stern. This type of dug-out boat, made of a single hardwood
log, mostly iron Malabar wood, was used to transport rice and other cargo. The “rua mat” was carved out with a chisel and its size sometimes enhanced by
heating the carved log over a fire or by putting smoldering rice husks in its interior. When the wood was softened, the two halves were separated to broaden
the hull. The boat was initially steered by a tiller, but is now mainly driven by an engine.
Tips and Warnings
Long tail boats can be rented at the pier in front of the Chantrakasem Palace Museum near Hua Ro, just opposite Wat Monthop on Ko Loi.
Small barges are not found in quantity on Ayutthaya’s rivers, but “The Seven Seas Restaurant” near the railway station has an old roofed “rua mat” for rent.
Historical signboard in situ is marked as (*)
Entry fee required is marked as ($)
Boat dock present marked as (+)