Currently there are three waterways in Bangkok used for public transport:
Chao Phraya Express Boat
(name of the company, I don't see where the "express" is, other than lines that don't stop at all piers being faster than those that do)
A great way to travel along the river and to see sights from the river. The various lines run from Rat Burana (Big C) (S4) ราษฎร์บูรณะ in the south via Sathorn (CEN) สาทร up to Pakkred (N33) ปากเกร็ด in the north.
Details about the lines here:
Memorial Bridge = Saphan Phut (N6) สะพานพระพุทธยอดฟ้า has been abandoned and replaced by Pak Klong Talad (N6/1) ปากคลองตลาด (through Yodpiman ยอดพิมาน shopping and restaurant complex), information that has not made in into maps and guidebooks yet.
update aug2017: Memorial Bridge N6 is in operation again after renovation
Khlong Saen Saep Express Boat
(name of company)
A traffic-jam-proof way to travel along Saen Saep Canal. During rush hour very crowded and I advise against using it if you are fragile; getting on and off is no fun. Noisy engine. Totally unsuitable for tourism, you sit low and they pull up a tarpaulin to protect passengers from splashing water. Most of the canal has a walkway on either or both sides, can be used for walking or mocy.
Panfa Leelard (W4) ผ่านฟ้าลีลาศ in the west, compulsory change at Pratunam (CEN) ประตูน้ำ, Wat Sriboonreung (E22) วัดศรีบุญเรือง in the east.
Update Sep 2016:
During rush hour, it's best to board at Pratunam in order to get a seat when going for longer distances (I often take the boat to The Mall Bangkapi, about 50 minutes). At the end of the boat, still so much noise from engine that I decided to put in earplugs (or alternatively headphones without music), but recently sat behind the captain, much less noisy despite similar distance from engine.
Saen Saep canal new stop E13-1
Phasi Charoen Canal Boat
Runs in the Thonburi side of Bangkok from
P15 Phetchakasem 69 Pier (western end)
I have been on part of it, a pleasant ride would be suitable for tourism, but there is not much to see along the way.
A great article is here:
Bangkok Noi, Bangkok Yai, Dao Khanong, Prawet Burirom and Mahasawat Canal
These are all navigable, but you have to rent a boat. Tour suggestions in the brochures quoted below.
I have done the Mahasawat Canal tour (in Nakon Pathom province) with friends, but there is nothing I could add to below article:
Mahasawat Canal boat tour Nakhon Pathom October 29, 2015
(Pathum Thani province) There are piers along the canal.
Phadung Krung Kasem Canal คลองผดุงกรุงเกษม
Is navigable and has piers, was used for shuttle boat from Hua Lampong railway station to market near Government House last year:
River and canals
Language note: A river is a natural waterway and a canal a man-made waterway.
The course of Chao Phraya river has been shortened several times in histroy, and what are no Bangkok Noi and Yai canal was the former Chao Phraya river:
I wonder why the bend around Bang Krachao บางกระเจ้า (lower end of above map with 1874 canal) has not been shortened. What used to be a peninsula is now an island (satellite image and traveling there), but the connection by water cannot be used by boats (sluice gates). Klong Toey port is in the middle of the bend, a canal would not shorten way from ocean to Klong Toey port.
Books and brochures about Bangkok waterways
There is a book Bangkok Waterways An Explorer’s Handbook by Warren and Lloyd, Asia Books 1989, 94 pages,
covers only Chao Phraya and Thonburi canals
and quality brochures available for free at tourism office (three that i know of, two English, one Thai, with pretty much the same information presented slightly differently)
update: got two more aug2016
Part of the information from the brochures is online here:
General information for all waterways here:
(text formatting problem font and size in this post)
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