AYUTTHAYA BOAT & FERRY LANDINGS
Text, maps  & photographs by Tricky Vandenberg - May 2011
Ayutthaya was known as the Venice of the East. The city was a water based settlement
surrounded by the (old)
Lopburi River on all its sides and traversed by many wide canals
receiving the water from the main river, called by the Siamese Maenam. Transport was
mainly water-orientated and as thus boats were found abundantly in and around the city.
To travel from and to the city island, a number of ferry and boat landings existed.

East

On the east side of the city there were five landings in connection with the opposite river
bank.

From north to south we had Tha Chang Wang Na (ท่าช้างวังหน้า) or the Elephant
landing of the
Front Palace (Chan Kasem or Chantra Kasem) at Hua Ro, which had a
connection with Tha Wilanda (ท่าวิลันดา) or the Dutch Landing on the northern
mainland. Tha Chang was located north of the Front Palace and east of
Wat Khamin on
the south bank of Khlong Khamin also called
Khlong Senasanaram - a canal dug during
the reign of King Mongkut (Rama IV). The ferry route was south of the
Thamnop Ro
Bridge. Why the landing in the vicinity of Wat Sam Vihan and Wat Maha Lok was called
"Wilanda" remains an open question.

The second ferry route was between the Police or Guard post south of the Front Palace
and north of Wat Khwang Fortress. The landing on the city side was called "Eight Police"
(ท่าแปดตำรวจ) and connected with the landing at
Wat Saphan Kluea.

In between these two ferry landings on the city's side, there was another boat landing
close to the southern wall of the Front Palace called, the Bamboo Basket Landing
(ท่าฉลอม). Whether this was the boat landing for the Uparat or Viceroy is unclear.
There should have been a palace landing identical to Tha Wasukri at the Grand Palace,
though no traces of it are found on the mid-19th century map.

A third ferry route connected the city with
Wat Nang Chi on the eastern mainland. The
ferry landing on the city's side stood close to the mouth of
Khlong Ho Rattanachai on its
north bank, south of Wat Khwang and the author took the freedom to call it the Ho
Rattanachai Landing.

The next connection was located mid-east. Somewhere south of
Wat Pa Thon on the
riverside, there was a ferry landing linking the landing at
Wat Phichai.

Finally the fifth ferry route was between the landing north of Rachakrue Fortress and
Wat
Ko Kaeo. In total I found six boat landings on the eastern city side and five landings on
the eastern main land on the mid-19th century map.

South

On the south side of Ayutthaya there were six landings from and to the city.

The first one was at Hua Sarapha, east of
Pom Phet near the arched gateway of Talat
Rong Lek (iron storehouse market) in connection with the landing of
Wat Phanan
Choeng.

The second  ferry route was from Tha Hoi (ท่าหอย) situated in between Khlong Nai Kai
and Khlong Pratu Jin, south from China street on the city island and the
landing of
Wat Pa Jak on the southern main land. Tha Hoi was called on some maps as
the Chinese Village Landing (Tha Muban Jin - ท่าหมู่บ้านจีม) and was located - begin
of the 20th century - in the front of an alcohol distillery.

A third ferry connection existed from Phraya Racha Wangsan's residence (1) at
the mouth (and on the west bank) of Khlong Pratu Jin to the landing
of
Wat Khun Phrom. This ferry is still in existence today.

The next landing was at Tha Dan Chi (ท่าด่านชีย) or Nun's Barrier Landing which had a
ferry towards the landing at
Wat Surin (tharam).

The fifth landing was near the mouth of the Chakrai Noi canal on its west bank in
connection with the landing at
Wat Tha Rap; the latter situated east of Wat Phutthai
Sawan.

And as last on the southern side there was the ferry route between the landing of the
Palace of Victory (
Wat Wang Chai) on the city's side across to the landing
near
Wat Nak at the mouth of Khlong Takhian. Wat Nak though is situated about 400
meter inside Khlong Takhian on its western bank, making the author wonder why the
landing was named as such, while
Wat Khok Phlu and Wat Klang were much closer
positioned at the mouth of the canal.

West

The short west side of Ayutthaya had four ferry landings.

The first western ferry route ran from the landing at
Wat Chayaram, a now defunct
temple, towards the landing at Ban Chi or the "Village of the Nuns",
situated between
Wat Chai Watthanaram and Wat Sanam Chai.

The second route went from the Phra Racha Wang Lang Landing (
Rear Palace) near the
mouth (and south) of Khlong Klaep across to the landing at
Wat Lot Chong on the
western main land.

The third landing was Tha Dan Lom (Wind Barrier Landing - ท่าด่านลม) in front of the
Rear Palace on the city's side in connection with the landing at
Wat Kasatra.

The last landing on the west side of the city was the one at Ban Jao Phraya Phonlathep’s
(2) connecting to the boat landing of
Wat Thamma. The crossing at the latter monastery
figures in the epic story Khun Chang Khun Phaen: "
At Wat Thamma, they stopped and
dismounted from the elephant by the riverbank. Little Khun Chang and his father
crossed the river and waited to enter the city.
" [5]

North

Finally, the long northern side of Ayutthaya had seven ferry landings.

The first landing was located near Pratu Sat Kop (north of Sat Kop Fortress) and called
Tha Nuea or North Landing (ท่าเหนือ). The latter linked across the Lopburi River to the
landing at
Wat Khun Yuan on the northern main land.

The following one was called Tha Ma Ap Nam (ท่าม้าอาบน้ำ) or Horse Bathing
Landing and connected to the landing at
Wat Choeng Tha. Horse Bathing Landing was
situated near the northwest corner of the Grand Palace, just east of the mouth of Khlong
Tho.

The third landing was the Khan Landing (ท่าขันธ์) also called noblemen's landing
(ท่าขุนนาง), which stood in connection with the Sala Trawen Landing
(ท่าศาลาตระเวน) , a guard or control post on the opposite side of the Grand Palace
near the mouth of
Khlong Sra Bua and in between Wat Mai and Wat Kuti Thong. Khan
Landing was situated on the northeast corner of the palace next to the Tha Khan Fortress
(ป้อมท่าคั่น). This ferry was used day and night as it was the official ferry of the Grand
Palace. It was at this ferry that the French Embassy of de Chaumont descended to enter
the Grand Palace. [6]

The fourth ferry route was from the Ten Cowries Landing (Tha Sip Bia - ท่าสิบเบี้ย) on
the northeast corner of the
Wat Thammikarat on the city's side across towards
the landing near Khlong Wat Pho. Elephants were bathed at Tha Sip Bia, as in the
vicinity of the Sip Bia Gate there were some elephant stables outside the city wall. On the
mid-19th century map there is an inscription indicating a tunnel (อุโมงค์) leading from the
Ten Cowries landing towards the old road in front of Wat Thammikarat.

Phraya Boran Rachathanin (PBR) states in Ref [A] remark 100, that the "Ten cowries
was a landing for the government officials in the Grand Palace and people who had some
business at the Court of Justice. Before the reign of King Petracha the meeting place for
governmental servants and government employees of the Royal Court were working
inside the Grand palace on the eastern side and also outside the palace walls there was
place where some other work was done.

Author is of the opinion that the fourth ferry route went from Tha Kalahom on the city's
side across towards the landing near Khlong Wat Pho for the following reasons:

  • The description PBR gives for Tha Sip Bia (Ref A - remark 100) has an identical
    function as Tha Khan;
  • Tha Sip Bia and Tha Khan are very close located together (hardly 100 meters);
  • between Tha Sip Bia and the next ferry landing, which is Tha Sai, is a large
    distance (800 meters), not covered by any ferry following the old texts;
  • Tha Sip Bia to Wat Pho is not in a straight line and covers 400 meters; a distance
    which is quite an exercise for the rower going upstream with load and passengers.
  • The mid-19thC map writes “Tha Kun Nang Khue Tha Sip Bia”, which could have
    meant that there was only one ferry going from the palace area to Sala Trawen and
    in this case it would be logical that there was a ferry from Tha Kalahom to Wat
    Pho.

In between the Horse Bathing Landing and the Khan Landing stood the royal boat
landing
Tha Wasukri. No boat traffic was allowed in front of the palace between these
two landings. De La Loubère wrote: "
The Siamese neither enter into the Vang, nor
depart thence without prostrating themselves, and they pass not before the
Prassat. And if sometimes the stream of the water carries them, and forces them
to pass thereby, they are pelted with showers of pease, which the King's servants
shoot over them with trunks.
"

The next ferry was from the landing of
Wat Tha Sai - Sand Landing - the monastery in
fact derived its name from the landing - across to the landing of
Wat Rong Khong in the
vicinity of Ban Chao Phraya Chakkri (3).

The sixth landing was near
Wat Song connecting with the landing at Wat Pa Khonthi. The
Wat Song Landing seems to have been situated - following a mid-19th century map -
within a small canal running between Wat Song and
Wat Khun Saen.

The seventh and last of the northern landings was located just above the
Maha Chai
Fortress at the Hua Ro corner and ferried people across to the landing
of
Wat Mae Nang Plum. This landing on the city island was also called Tha Khun Nang
or the "Noblemen Landing" and was in fact the second official landing.

In conclusion there were in total 22 ferries around the city, from which two were official;
the latter being the Noblemen Landing at Hua Ro and the Tha Khan Landing - also called
the "Noblemen Landing" (ท่าขุนนาง) - near the northeast corner of the Grand Palace.

Apparently there were more denominations for the latter landing. In the epic story "Khun
Chaeng Khun Paen" we find mentioned the Khan Landing at the northeast corner of the
palace. Chris Baker wrote that it was the main jetty for entering the palace, sometimes
called Tha Khoi or Waiting Landing, where boats waited for their masters. [7]

At present there are still some ferries active from the city island towards the main land.
The largest motorized ferry which can transport also motorcycles, is the one doing the
connection Chikun Road towards Wat Khun Phrom on the south side, mentioned earlier
above in the text. A second motorized ferry on the eastern side is doing the connection
Chao Phrom Market to the Railway station with a landing at Sala Jao Bung Kao Kong
Ma. Here only bicycles and persons can be shuttled.

Another non-motorized ferry is at the end of Pa Maphrao Road (next to the Ho
Rattanachai Water Gate) in connection with the landing of
Wat Pradu Songtham (though
still very far located from that spot). A shuttle can also be taken in front of the Chantra
Kasem Museum to
Wat Monthop on Ko Loi (floating island) on the opposite side. Some
more are still existing.

Footnotes:

(1) Phraya Racha Wangsan is mentioned in the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya [1].
Following Chularatana, the Phraya Racha Wangsan was the division chief of the Krom
Asa Cham, in charge of the Cham communities in Ayutthaya. [2] Author has the
impression that the function of the Racha Wangsan should be interpreted larger as also
being responsible for - at least - a part of the Ayutthayan naval forces. The first French
Embassy was lodged at the house of "
a great Mandarin, a Persian by Nation". Hence
the author believe this was at the house of the Phraya Racha Wangsan. [3]
(2) Phraya Phonlathep - Civilian rank - Senabodi (Chief) for the Krom Phra
Kasetrathibodi (Pillar of the Rice Fields). Royal servant holding the Sakdina of 10,000
Rai. [4]
(3) Chaophraya Chakkri Siongkharak - Civilian rank - Chief Senabodi. Head of the
Samuhanayok (civilian affairs concentrated here). Royal servant holding the Sakdina of
10,000 Rai. [4]

References:

[A]
อธิบายแผนที่พระนครศรีอยุธยากับคำวินิจฉัยของพระยาโบราฌราชาธานินท์ ฉบับชำระครั้งที่๒
และ ภูมิสถนกรุงศรีอยุธยา (2007) - Explanation of the map of the Capital of Ayutthaya with a ruling of
Phraya Boran Rachathanin - Revised 2nd edition and Geography of the Ayutthaya Kingdom - Ton Chabab
print office - Nonthaburi (2007) - page 91-92.
[1] RCA page 128
[2] The Shi’ite Muslims in Thailand from Ayutthaya Period to the Present - Julispong
Chularatana.
[3] A Relation of the Voyage to Siam - Guy Tachard (1688) - Orchid Press, Bangkok
(1999) - page 148.
[4] Thai radical discourse: the real face of Thai feudalism today - Craig J. Reynolds -
SEAP Publications (1987) - page 91.
[5] KCKP 1 - The births of Khun Chang and Khun Phaen - Translation by Chris Baker.
[6] A New Historical Relation of the Kingdom of Siam - Simon de La Loubère - John
Villiers (1986) - page 96.
[7] KCKP 32 - The presentation of Soi Thong and Soi Fa - Translation by Chris Baker.
(Ferry from Wat Chayaram to Ban Chi)
(Ferry from the city to Wat Surintharam)
(Ferry from the Rear Palace to Wat Kasatra)
(Tha Dan Lom in front of the Rear Palace)
(Ferry from the city to Wat Nang Chi)
(Ferry from Tha Wang Chai to Tha Wat Nak)
(Ferry from Tha Phra to Wat Lot Chong)
(Ferry from the city to Wat Khun Phrom)
(Ferry from Wat Khun Phrom to the city)
(Ferry from the city to the railway station)
(Ferry from the railway station to the city)
(Ferry Tha Khun Nang to Wat Mae Nang Plum)
(Ferry Tha Ma Ap Nam to Wat Choeng Tha)
(Ferry Khlong Chakrai Noi to Wat Tha Rap)
(Ferry Wat Tha Sai to Wat Rong Khong)