This kayak tour highlights old foreign settlements and important historical sites south of Ayutthaya’s main city island. This culturally diverse area includes a potpourri of churches, mosques, monasteries, and other historical sites. This kayak route is ideal for those wanting to get off-the-beaten track for some natural scenery or to learn about local Thai life along the city’s water ways. This total length of this route is slightly over 10 kilometers.
This southern area is shaped by the borders of Khlong Takhian and the Chao Phraya River, which is split into two parts by Khlong Khu Cham. The western section was inhabited by “Vietnamese” refugees – mostly Christian communities of Tonkinese, Annamese and Cochin Chinese. This is also where the French made their quarters in the 17th century. The French referred to Khlong Takhian as “Canal du Grand Cochon”, and they established a church at its northern mouth. The French settlement was dominated by priests and thus focused more on religion than trade. Mon refugees settled in the area on the opposite side of the canal.
The eastern section was populated by the Chinese (around Bang Kaja) and Portuguese trading communities, which included three neighborhoods with churches along the west bank of the Chao Phraya. In addition, the eastern section included Buddhist temples pre-dating the foundation of the Ayutthaya Kingdom, which have yielded relics dating to the late-Dvaravati period.
Muslims had foreign settlements throughout the area. The southern part was occupied by the Malay and Patani Muslims, who also had neighborhoods and markets in the north along the Chao Phraya River. Opposite Khlong Takhian, on its south bank, was the location of the Makassarese refugees before their village was destroyed after an uprising against the throne. Cham Muslims from Cambodia and Vietnam lived beside Khlong Khu Cham (known as “Le Canal du Petit Cochon” by the French). In addition, Muslims from Persia and India settled in this area as well. These Muslims communities were sometimes collectively labeled as Moors by early Westerners.
In addition, this kayak loop will also explore old foreign settlements situated on the eastern banks of the Chao Phraya River. This geographic zone was used by foreign traders and settlers – including the Chinese, Dutch, British, and Japanese.
The tour will take 3-4 hours according to your level of physical fitness, the conditions of the water current, and your personal kayaking experience. Travel time will expand if you stop to visit every highlight listed on this tour itinerary. Nevertheless, we have listed a few extra sites for the sake of smoother navigation and to alert kayakers to possible locations for obtaining water and other supplies. Individual kayakers can choose where to stop according to their own tastes and time constraints.
If you are interested in viewing photographs of the temples and other historic sites in advance or would like additional historic information about these ruins, visit our website at www.ayutthaya-history.com.
Tips and Warnings
There are basically two main philosophies when it comes to kayaking, and your personal standpoint is vital for planning in advance. One philosophy is to kayak for the sake of sports and fitness. In this case, you may emphasize speed and getting a physical workout. This style of kayaking may require stopping at fewer historic sites, packing less weight, paddling against the current, and stocking up on extra supplies of water and electrolyte beverages.
The second train of thought stresses recreational ecotourism. You can easily spend a relaxing 6-7 hours on these routes while exploring local flora and fauna, chatting with locals, studying each and every historic site, and waiting for the best lightening for photographs. If this is your style of kayaking, you will need to protect your extra equipment with waterproof bags that can float, wear extra sunscreen, and maybe even pack an ice chest with plenty of cold drinks. Try to understand your motive for kayaking and pack accordingly.
Water Currents - The most important variable for making kayaking plans in Ayutthaya is water current. Rainy season can result in flooding and/or rapidly moving water. For this reason, it is not always advisable to kayak from mid-September to mid-November (yet, this same seasonal flooding may also open up new routes when water flows into formerly dry canals, so don’t rule it out). The confluence of the Chao Phraya and Pa Sak rivers, in front of Wat Phanan Choeng, has been historically notorious for whirlpools during the rainy season. Use caution when the current is fast and consider wearing life jackets.
Tidal Action - Tidal action affects Ayutthaya’s waterways even thought the city is located far away from the Gulf of Thailand. This tidal action causes the rivers to shift directions at unpredictable times of the day. Therefore, it may be useful to adjust your itinerary to account for these shifting currents and to perhaps do some of the kayaking routes in reverse if necessary.
Clothing - It is advisable to wear a good hat and loose-fitting clothing that dries quickly. Long pants may be useful and appropriate if you plan on visiting Buddhist temples on route. Also, the refracted sunlight from the water makes sunburn commonplace, so put on plenty of sunscreen.
Canals - The small canals contribute to the most exciting kayaking adventures in Ayutthaya. The water current moves much slower in the canals, which makes them much less strenuous than rivers for paddling. However, the greatest issue is water hyacinth. These prolific plants often clog up the waterways, making it impossible to proceed any further. This blockage can take place suddenly at any time of the year, and water hyacinths are a reoccurring problem on virtually every canal in the city. Likewise, some of the city’s water gates may close without notice, or dams upstream may release water, which complicates canal exploration at times. Therefore, it is always useful to have a backup plan for alternative kayaking routes. In addition, when stepping onto dry land in remote areas, it is always advisable to keep your eyes open for dogs, snakes, and other wild animals.
Traffic - Kayaking in Ayutthaya is much safer than riding a bicycle. Kayaking cuts down on the more dangerous and chaotic motor vehicles. Nevertheless, when paddling on the city’s three rivers – Chao Phraya, Lopburi, and Pa Sak - you still need to exercise caution. Unfortunately, jet skiing has become a growing trend in Ayutthaya, and these motor vehicles drive fast and reckless. It is common for them to slash local fisherman nets as they race by and for them to send large waves splashing against other boats. Make sure to brace yourself and tie your equipment down well. On the city’s rivers, you should also watch out for the large barges that slowly drift by. It is usually a good idea to stay close to the river bank for safety.
Night Kayaking - Night kayaking can be very beautiful as many of the historic sites are lit up at night and the large flying fox bats often decorate the sky. However, please keep in mind that it is difficult for larger boats to see kayaks in the evening, so stay close to the river banks. Long-tail boats are less common at night, but they can still catch you by surprise. Night visibility is much better close to the full moon. Also, in night as well as day, locals commonly go fishing near the river bank. Be careful not to tangle with their fishing lines while kayaking.
Theft - The theft of kayaks and boats is nearly unheard of in Ayutthaya, but it is still a good idea to keep backpacks, cameras, and other valuables with you when visiting the sites on route. Money should be placed in an air-tight, floatable, water-proof container.
Rentals and Agencies - Unfortunately, although Ayutthaya once thrived as maritime city, many of its canals were since buried to make roads for motor vehicles. As a result, the local travel agencies have mostly focused on sightseeing via tuk-tuk or minivan. Water-based tourism is exclusive to long-tail boats and dinner boats. Nevertheless, there has been recent interest in kayaking, and a growing number of expatriates have purchased kayaks to explore the city’s waterways. There are only two options available to tourists that want to kayak in Ayutthaya. The Seven Seas Restaurant has two kayaks available for renting to tourists (www.ayutthaya-sevenseas.com). The starting point of this kayak tour begins at the Seven Seas Restaurant for this very reason. In addition, Nutty Adventures (www.ayutthaya-boat.com) offers some kayak and bicycle tours for those interested
If you would like information about lodging and restaurant options in Ayutthaya, please visit: www.ayutthaya-info.com.
Who are we?
Ayutthaya Historical Research [AHR] consists of a small group of researchers/writers with the aim to promote Ayutthaya’s cultural heritage. We are local expatriates who have been living in Ayutthaya for many years and would like to share our knowledge with future visitors. Therefore, we have personally tested each of these suggested routes by cycling and/or walking. More information on the authors can be found at: http://www.ayutthaya-history.com/Authors.html
In emergency or accident:
Contact the Ayutthaya Tourist Police Station: (035) 241-446; (035) 242-352 or 1155.
AHR will not be held liable for any loss or damage whatsoever for any suggestions made in relation to the site’s promotion of ecotourism. It is the responsibility of the user of the site to take the necessary precautions to avoid any physical injury, traffic incident, animal attack, theft, and damage to equipment. Any reliance on the site’s information is therefore strictly at your own risk. Read our full disclaimer at website www.ayutthaya-history.com.
Historical signboard in situ is marked as (*)
Entry fee required is marked as ($)
Boat dock present is marked as (+)
©2009-2019 Ayutthaya Historical Research
All rights reserved.
<iframe src="//plugin.routeyou.com/routeviewer/free/?language=en&params.route.id=187349" width="100%" height="600"></iframe>
© 2006-2019 RouteYou - www.routeyou.com