The Rivers of Thailand have also shaped Thailand’s history and economy. Several cities have flourished beside these rivers, like the capital Bangkok itself, serving as a perfect spot for tourism and trading, and hence improving the economy.
People in Thailand worship water and several festivals are also celebrated with water. One such festival is Songkran, Thai new year, is also world’s largest water festival celebrated for 3 days during the hottest time of the year. Another festival is Loi Krathong, where the people thank the water gods for showering them with abundant water by offering flowers to these rivers. These rivers have been a part of Thai culture since the starting of civilization. River water is considered holy and sprinkled across the statues of Buddha and other deities.
The rivers also served as the most popular medium of transport before the coming of vehicles, as people used their boats to travel from one place to another. Thailand was called as ‘Venice of the East’ as several shops, theatres and restaurants could be accessed only by a boat ride on the canals. Floating markets are a very popular destination for tourists who can buy souvenirs and interact with the locals.
There are large power-plants and other industries that serve electricity as well as other basic needs and demands to the ever growing population of Thailand.
Here are some important rivers of Thailand:
1. Chao Phraya
Chao Phraya is one of the major rivers of Thailand that goes south to the Gulf of Thailand, along with many tributaries and canals that originate from this river. Chao Phraya, when translated gives ‘River of Kings’, oweing to its length of 372 kilommeters and the purpose it serves. It flows through a major part of country and forms a low alluvial plain in the central region, giving rise to the rich agriculture of the country. It originates at the meeting of Ping and Nan river at Nakhon Sawan. Because of its abundant fish and fertile quality, several establishments and cities made their way along the river banks of this river and its tributaries. Some of them are Bangkok - Capital of Thailand, Chai Nat, Sing Buri, Nonthaburi and Samut Prakhan.
King Rama 1 named it as the lifeblood of Bangkok, as around 50,000 people use it to ferry to their destination everyday and for trading of teak and rice. Tall buildings, temples and markets that lie along its banks makes this river so reminscent. Various floating markets are also situated here, hence making it bustling with tourists and workers. One can take a cruise along this river, and enjoy the view it provides of the ever-growing city of Bangkok.
Some of its tributaries are Pa Sak River, Sakae Krang River and Tha Chin River, which have further tributaries hence expanding the basin of the river. The swamp forests around are home to a large number of animals like Tigers, Elephants, Rhinoceros, deers and cranes along with several migratory birds and 280 species of fishes.
2. Mae Klong River
3. Mekong River
Mekong is a river in south-east Asia that is 7th longest in Asia and 12th longest in the world, with a total length of 4350 km. Known as Mai Nam Khing in Thailand and flowing in the north-east part of the country, it contributes a major share of fish stock in Thailand. It’s influence on Thai culture isn’t much prominent, but since it provides thousands of people their source of living it is one of the important rivers of Thailand. Some of the tributaries that originate from this river are Mun, Ing, Ruak and Kok river.
Thailand has over 25 river basins, with rainwater being the main source of water. Since it is a tropical country, it is blessed with abundant rainfall which gives a good volume to the rivers. However in the recent years with the ever growing population and modernisation, river pollution has been increased to such a level that many are forced to drink contaminated water. Agriculture, Industrial waste and household waste are the main reasons.
The government of Thailand is trying its level best to remove river pollution as much as possible. However it is the duty of tourists also not to throw garbage and waste into the rivers as these rivers are source of livelihood for millions of people.