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Discover the Waterways of Southeast Asia on the Long-Tail Boat

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Whether you are cruising along the Mekong River or are travelling along Bangkok’s many canals, you will probably have boarded a long tail boat.  Made famous by the James Bond film The Man with the Golden Gun, the long and narrow hull as well as its long-tail engine, gives this boat its unique appearance and name.  The long-tail boat is used around the waters of the region for different purposes.  Fishing and the transportation of light cargo and passengers are the main uses for these boats.

The long-tail boat is made of different types of materials such as wood, metal and bamboo.  All the boats consist of an engine (usually a second hand car or truck engine) which is mounted on an inboard turret-like pole.  The long rod can rotate 180 degrees allowing the driver to steer the boat.  The propeller is mounted directly on the driveshaft with no additional gears or transmission.   The engine can also rotate up and down, providing a ‘neutral gear’ when the propeller does not touch the water.  The advantage of this long driveshaft is that it keeps the engine relatively dry when the boat is moving.  This basic design also allows different engine types and shapes to be attached to different kinds of hulls.  This makes construction and maintenance of the boat simple.

Some long-tail boats can go as fast as 80 kilometers an hour.  Because of this, passengers must be a little careful with their belongings because water splash back can occur.  A little caution must also be taken when boarding the boat.  The boats do sway on the water current and the edges of the boat can be slippery from the water splashing onto the boat.

The long-tail boat is a vital mode of transportation in Southeast Asia.  Its distinctive appearance and abundance in the region’s many waterways make this boat almost synonymous with Southeast Asia’s image.  If you are in Bangkok and would like to discover the city on a long-tail boat, then our Insight Klong Saen Saap – Bangkok is the tour for you.  Discover the spiritual and cultural side of the city before capping off the day at with a boat ride to Jim Thompson’s mansion.  If are thinking of a cruise along the Mekong while also experiencing the area’s natural environs and diverse cultures, then Exotissimo’s Along the Mekong: Southern Laos to Siem Reap tour is what you are looking for.  Traverse along this scenic river while exploring beautiful temples and learning about the villagers’ lifestyle along the way.  See our suggested multi-countries tour page for other memorable journeys into Southeast Asia.

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