Low-lying Bangkok, humid and thick in its swampy surrounds, has been carved, drained, protected and irrigated by canals since the 18th Century. Many of Thailand’s cities and towns were traditionally protected by moats, and Bangkok’s first waterways were dug for this purpose. Though Bangkok’s usual icons are tuk-tuks and traffic, its waterways are the true symbols of a city that was known ...as the “Venice of the East” during much of the 19th century. The canal and river network stretched hundreds of kilometres and was the lifeblood of the city. It connected houses, public spaces and temples, served as transport corridors for commercial goods and there were more floating than land-based markets. Today, many of the khlongs (canals) have been filled in and paved over to make room for roads, but a massive network of waterways still criss-crosses the city.