Long Tail Boats – Thailand

Long Tail BoatsIf you’ve explored southeast Asia, you probably came across those long tail boats. And chances are you got to ride in one of them, whether you were a backpacker counting every penny or a luxury traveller going to a remote luxury hotel!

Long tail boats are essentially made of a long wooden hull and powered by a… car or truck engine! The engine is at the back of the boat, and attached to it is the propeller at the end of a really long shaft. The operator manoeuvres the boat by moving the shaft and propeller from side to side. It can move 180 degrees which gives the operator plenty of liberty.

The embarkations are quite simplistic, but they get the job done! And it comes with a lovely smell of gasoline as an added bonus! All that said though, getting in and out of the boat is usually the most difficult (and dangerous?) part of the operation: Since there are not always nicely built piers to accommodate those boats and since they don’t come all the way to the shore, you usually have to walk in the water to get to them (at least the rides I took, I had to walk in the water). When you’re backpacking, you just hope you don’t completely trip and fall in the water with you backpack on your back. But when you have a luggage to carry… You have to be even more careful! It could make for a good story though…!

Long tail boat

Those particular pictures are from Railey, Thailand. If I could describe paradise, I would probably describe it like Railey beach. If you ever go to southern Thailand, please make sure you spend a couple of days there!

My experience with long tail boats is limited to riding on them on two separate occasions (if I remember correctly). Before arriving in Railey, we spent about 5 days in Koh Phi Phi, which is a fantastic island. I learned to scuba dive on that island, and since then I fell in love with scuba diving, so that place will always have a special signification in my heart! To get to and from Phi Phi, there are large boats that make the ride from Krabi to the Island. After the ferry ride that drops you off in Krabi, we had to take a taxi to the long tail boat stand (imagine a taxi stand, but with long tail boats instead), and then boarded the boat after walking a few hundred meters in shallow waters, trying not to fall with our backpack on our back.

When we got to Railey, the low tide prevented the boat to come close to shore, so once again we had to walk in shallow water! On the other side of Railey, the shore was a nice sandy beach, so arriving there is quite pleasant even if you have to get your feet wet. Our our side of the peninsula though, the shore was more muddy and rocky rather than sandy. But hey, after we dropped our bags at the hotel, we got to enjoy the beautiful beaches on the other side!

On the way back, we once again boarded one of those boats and made our way to the “long tail boat terminal”, and then hopped in a taxi back to the airport.

Have you ever taken a ride in a long tail boat? Did you drop your luggage in the water?

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