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River Cruising
   Thailand's rivers and canals .or "klongs" offer a truly spectacular way of seeing the country. All kinds of cruises are available, enabling visitors to see out-of-the-way sights and to experience the traditional way of life still followed in rural areas of the kingdom.
   A great introduction to river and canal cruising are the long-tail boats that ply these waterways. The best place to hire one of these vessels the pier next to the Oriental Hotel, known as Tha Oriental. Others include Tha Chang, Tha Si Phraya and Tha Saphan Phut, all located on or near the Chao Phraya River which runs through the centre of Bangkok. The Boat Tour Centre at the River City Complex next to the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel, Bangkok has an efficient booking desk and reasonable rates. Alternatively, visitors can catch the regular long-tail boat services that ply the Chao Phraya River. Fares are as low as ten baht for certain sections.
    Places to visit include Ko Kret Island with its Mon community and local pottery, and Suan Thip restaurant, north of Bangkok, which has delightful Thai-style gardens and villas. One of the most popular river cruises is undoubtedly to the former capital of Ayutthaya, some 80 kilometres north of Bangkok. This takes in picturesque river scenery in central Thailand and usually includes a stop at the former royal residency of Bang Pain, Several Bangkok hotels, such as the Oriental and the Shangri-La, operate their own air-conditioned passenger cruises for this particular trip; visitors can normally choose to go one-way by boat and return by bus.
Floating Market Tour
   Tours leave daily at 07.00 am. from the landing of the Oriental and Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotels. This offers a pleasant view of life along the klongs. Most tours pass through Bangkok Yai district to Klong Dan near Wat Sai where the floating market is located. Some tours also stop at the Snake Farm, Wat Arun, and the Royal Barge Museum.
Rice Barge Tours
   An interesting way of discovering Thailand's river life, cruises of this kind employ specially converted rice barges to transport visitors.
Manohra Barge
    Operated by Marriott Royal Garden Riverside Hotel, this beautifully restored barge is available for cruises to Ayutthaya and various overnight options. Full on-board catering and accommodation are available.
River Jet Transport
    A faster way of cruising Thailand's rivers and (larger) klongs is by jet boats. Hourly trips around the Niwet Thamprawat Temple Island and to Bang Pa-In/Ayutthaya are available as well. Others good locations for river cruising include the Mae Klong River in Samut Songkram, where visitors can see the Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, complete with traditional Thai life, fruit orchards and temples on both banks.
Sea Cruising
For those who prefer a more restful way of seeing the scenic wonders of Thailand's marine life, sea cruising is a good alternative. There is a choice of luxury passenger liners plying the waters along both coasts, while tour boats offer regular day trips from bases such as Phuket, Pattaya and Ko Samui. Local long-tailed boats can be hired for trips to nearby scenic islands for snorkelling.
The Gulf of Thailand
    During the months of May to October, the weather in the Gulf is ideal for cruising. Choices of one-night to four-night cruises are available. One night takes you to Pattaya and back, two nights take you to Ko Chang. Three-nights enable you to cruise the islands of Ko Samui, Ko Tao, and Nang Nual, with opportunities for snorkelling. The four-night cruise takes you through the Ang Thong Islands, on to Nang Nual and Ko Tao. Most cruise boats have several leisure facilities on board such as Jacuzzis, games shows and disco.
The Andaman Sea
    Cruising season is from November to May, and cruises leave from Phuket. The shortest cruise takes in Ko Phi Phi and other islands in Krabi. A three-day cruise visits Krabi, the Similan Islands, and the Surin Islands. Four-day cruises explore the Tarutao group of islands, and the Malaysian island of Langkawi.
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