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Beyond Venice: 8 must-see canal cities

By: Josh Lew on Oct. 4, 2013, 2:36 p.m.
Bangkok floating market

Photo: cokedragon/flickr

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Anyone who has ever tried to negotiate the roads of Thailand's capital city can tell you that the waterways are a nuisance to drivers. The innumerable canals — called khlongs in local vernacular — make grid-like street layouts impossible and create the perfect recipe for gridlock. Ironically, the khlongs are the best way to get away from Bangkok's traffic jams. Water taxis offer an alternative means of public transportation in this busy city. Even those who travel further afield to Thonburi, a district on the far side of the Chao Phraya River, will experience the charms of the canals.

Many khlong neighborhoods are poor and consist of modest dwellings built on stilts. Here, life revolves around the waterways just as it has for centuries, with many residents more likely to have a boat than a motorcycle or car. Tropical fruit orchards, small pagodas and temples are also part of the backwater scenery.