Home > Bangkok, FAM (Familiarization) Tour, FAM Trip, General, Thailand, Thailand FAM > Khlong Saen Saep Express Boat

Khlong Saen Saep Express Boat

Khlong Saen Saep Express Boat, Bangkok

A canal boat service in Bamgkok, Thailand

Also see: FAM tour of Thailand

Just watch your step when boarding and disembarking as they don’t stop at the pier for long. Pay the fare to the fearless helmet-wearing ticket collectors who clamber around on the outside of the boat, ducking at bridges, as it barrels down the canal.

Saen Saep Express Boat 1

Khlong Saen Saep Express Boat, Bangkok

This is Khalong Saen Saep Express Boat service. Mostly used by locals to commute to work, the service is cheap and you get to see the “backside” of the neighbourhoods, so to speak. Also, It is immune to Bangkok’s notorious traffic jams.

Map of Saen Saep Express Boat, Bangkok (Source: Wikimedia Commons) (Click to enlarge)

Map of Saen Saep Express Boat, Bangkok (Source: Wikimedia Commons) (Click to enlarge)

Bangkok is full of canals, for centuries the canals have been dug for strategic and transportation purpose. Many of these canals have been filled up and turned into roads but many of them have survived the test of time and are integral part of the Bangkok’s urban landscape.

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Entrance of the Nana Chard Pier

Although transportation was one of the prime reasons for the digging of the canals but sadly today a small portion of only one canal in Bangkok has public boat service.

Only 18 km of the 72 km long Khlong Saen Saep (Khlong means canal in Thai) has a public ferry service.

The Saen Saep Canal was commissioned by King Rama III during a conflict between Siam and Annam over Cambodia in order to establish water transport for soldiers and weapons.

Construction began in 1837 and was finished in three years. The Saen Saep starts from Maha Nak Canal (Khlong Maha Nak), also known as the outer city moat, around Mahakan Fort in Bangkok. It ends at the Bang Pakong River in Chachoengsao Province. It covers a total distance of 72 km.

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A bilingual (Thai and English) signage at Nana Chard Pier, Saen Saep Express Boat, Bangkok

The Saen Saep Canal is one of Bangkok’s major drainage arteries. It is also heavily polluted. The Khlong Saen Saep boat service is a water bus operating on the Saen Saep Canal in Bangkok through the city’s traffic-congested commercial districts.

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Saen Saep Canal Boat Service. L: Inside the boat, R: Outside view

Khlong Saen Saep boat service has been in operation since 1 October 1990. The service has a checkered reputation due to the polluted water in the canal and the haphazard nature in which the service is operated.

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Pratunam Pier, transfer station between Golden Mount Line and NIDA Line, Bangkok

Only 18 km of the 72 km Saen Saep Canal is under the boat service and is run by a company called Family Transport, which runs about 100 boats of 40 – 50 seats. It operates from 05:30 to 20:30 daily on weekdays (to 19:00 on weekends). Prices are 8-20 baht, depending on distance traveled.

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A boat approaches the the Panfa Leelard Pier with Golden Mount Temple on the right corner

The 18 km stretch is broken down into two section. The western section consists of the Golden Mount Line and the eastern section consists of the NIDA Line. NIDA stands for National Institute of Development Administration.

The Golden Mount Line is a smaller stretch covering only 6 stops, while the longer Nida Line consists of 24 stops.

During my FAM tour of Thailand I used the Saen Saep Express Boat for a Twelve Hour Tour of Bangkok.

It was an amazing journey through the polluted waters of the canal but it saved both money and time. The boat service is mostly used by locals and I was the only tourist in the boat.

I was staying at the Mercure Bangkok Sukhumvit 11 Hotel and the Nana Chard Pier on the NIDA Line, of  Saen Saep Canal Boat Service, was just 5 minutes walk away.

Saen Saep Express Boat 8

Mahakan Fort from Panfa Leelard Pier

It was a Sunday and I decided to take a morning boat. Nana Chard Pier had maps and signage in both English and Thai. There were only a few people in the pier and the boat arrived soon after.

The plastic sheets, which protected the passenger from sprays of polluted water, were lowered. It was a brief stop for passengers to board and deboard. Once everyone was on the boat the attendant below the whistle  and the boat sailed eastward towards Pratunam.

I got in and managed a window seat. The plastics sheets were raised but I stood up to take photos. Soon the helmeted attendant, who clambered from the side of the boat, approached me for the fare. I said Panfa Leelard, he did understand my ascent and showed me a ticket of 13 baht, the fare I was supposed to pay.

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A ornamental boat decoration on the pillar of Phan Fa Lilat Bridge, Bangkok

As I was taking out the money the boat passed beneath a low bridge with the attendant ducking to save his head. No wonder the fearless attendants of the Saen Saep Express Boat Service have an adventurous job.

Pratunum was just just four stations away and the boat took only 10 minutes. The Pratunum Pier had boarding station on both side of the canal and is located beneath the Chaloem Loke Bridge.

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Top view of Panfa Leelard Pier from a bridge across the Saen Saep Canal, Bangkok

Here also there are signage and maps in English and Thai. Soon the boat of Golden Mount Line arrived. After I quick boarding we headed east for Panfa Leelard. This was 15 minutes journey with the same ticket.

Panfa Leelard is located below the Phan Fa Lilat Bridge. Next to is Wat Saket and The Golden Mount. Also at this place the Saen Saep Canal meets the outer city moat (Khalong Maha Nak), which over looks the Mahakan Fort. This was the starting point of my Heritage Walk of Rattanakosin Island.

Note: I visited Thailand as part of a FAM trip organized by Tourism authority of Thailand (TAT) and Thai Airways.

Special Thanks:

  • Aso Lori (TAT, New Delhi) and Sajid Khan (Thai Airways, Kolkata)
  • My fellow FAM participants Amit Sachdev (Unique Air Travels), Sanjay Kr Kothari (Just Holidays), Vandana Arya (Gainwell Leisure Holidays), Piyush Banerjee (Discovery Holidays), Asif Alim (Neptune Holidays) and Nandini Gangully (T2, The Telegraph)
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  1. December 22, 2018 at 2:29 AM

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