Klong Bang Luang Neighbourhood

A Canal-Side Community

As they built their respective capitals, King Taksin of Thonburi and King Rama I of Rattanakosin (Bangkok) both designed their cities in the model of Ayutthaya. One aspect of that design was the means of transportation and commuting, which was primarily by waterway system of canals and rivers, earning Ayutthaya the nickname of "Venice of the East" among European visitors. Such means of transportation and commuting remained predominant in Thonburi and Bangkok up until the beginning of the 20th century CE, when automobiles became widespread in Thailand. Since then, canals were gradually covered and turned into roads. The pace of this development accelerated after the Second World War, and by the mid-1970's virtually all of what used to be canals in Bangkok had been turned into roads.

Fortunately, a few waterways remain today on the Thonburi side of the city, as well as vibrant traditional communities along the banks of the canals. Klong Bang Luang neighbourhood is one of such communities. Here, you can find old temples with centuries-old structures, decades-old wooden houses, old-style provision shops and barber shops, canal-side walkways build from wooden planks, etc. This locale is an excellent place to experience Bangkok before it turned into the modern mega-metropolis that it is today.

The star attraction of Klong Bang Luang has to be a community centre cum co-working space called "Artist's House", which has an art gallery exhibiting works of neighbourhood talents, a coffee shop (with decent food and beverages at very reasonable prices), and a souvenir shop. A Thai marionette troupe puts on a puppet show based on an Indian epic, the Ramayana, on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (call ahead to confirm that the performances are on).