What Are Boat Noodles?
Guaytiao Rua ( ก๋วยเตี๋ยวเรือ ), or "Boat Noodles" in English, are a staple of Bangkok cuisine. Bangkok is sometimes called the "Venice of the East" due to the vast network of canals (known as "khlongs") that crisscross the city. In the past, vendors would row their boats up and down the canals, serving tiny bowls of noodles to locals living and working along the canals.
Nowadays, these vendors have set up their vintage fast-food noodle shop in permanent restaurants, although many, if not most, are still located along the banks of Bangkok's khlongs.
A bowl of boat noodles is cheap; usually running 10-20 baht per bowl. Patrons sit around a table with a group of friends ordering bowl after bowl of delicious, hot soup. By the end of the meal, there is a tall tower of bowls stacked up on the edge of the table. It's a fun experience, and delicious and cheap besides!
Where to Find Boat Noodles in Bangkok?
One of the most famous areas in Bangkok for buying boat noodles is the Victory Monument area (BTS Victory Monument). The only problem is, there are just so many shops to choose from. Luckily a bowl of boat noodles is small and cheap, and you are meant to eat several in one setting, so that's just what we did! We visited four boat noodle shops along a canal near Victory Monument to see who sells the best boat noodles in Bangkok!
Types of Boat Noodles
Boat noodles can be made of rice noodles, egg noodles, or even thin vermicelli. A small bite-sized portion of noodles is served with each restaurant's unique broth, which is usually flavored with garlic, herbs, and Chinese five-spices. The brown broth is thickened with pig's blood, and can be a little spicy, sour, and sweet. The noodles are usually served with pork and flavorful herbs on top. Despite their small size, a bowl of boat noodles is absolutely packed with flavor.
Boat Noodle Canal Near Victory Monument
From Victory Monument BTS Station, take the sky-walk around the monument towards Sirat Expressway. Looking down from the sky-walk, you'll see a narrow canal with several restaurants crammed into the alley nearby.
It's not glamorous. The muddy canal is a little smelly. The shops are cramped and crowded with everyone from office workers heading home after work to large groups students and off-duty policemen. The Skytrain rattling overhead doesn't add much in the way of ambiance. But that's all part of the fun! Here is where you'll find this most wonderfully authentic dining experience. Who cares about fancy when the food is just so good?
Pranakorn Boat Noodle - First Shop
Location and Atmosphere of Pranakorn Boat Noodle
- Located on the corner of the road, just by the canal. Walk down the stairs of the Victory Monument sky-walk, and it's easy to spot Pranakorn Boat Noodle Restaurant. The shop is the first on the corner.
- The atmosphere is energetic and lively. The shop is always crowded and busy, but there's always a seat for one more.
- This shop is very popular with locals heading home from work and groups of students.
- Pranakorn Boat Noodle is right on the busy street, and is always crowded, and a bit noisy.
The Menu at Pranakorn Boat Noodle
- Small bowls: 12 baht
- Large bowls: 50 baht
- Don't miss the unique brewed bean curd noodle!
The Noodles, Soup, and Broth at Pranakorn Boat Noodle
- The broth is particularly thick and rich.
- The soup is very herbal, and includes a lot of flavors.
- They don't skimp on including lots of good ingredients in their noodle soup.
Anong Boat Noodle - Second Shop
Location and Atmosphere of Anong Boat Noodle
- Next up along the canal is Anong Boat noodle.
- This shop is just next door to the first restaurant, and has both outdoor seating along the canal, and indoor air-conditioned seating.
- This restaurant is a bit quieter, with nice seating along the canal.
The Menu at Anong Boat Noodle
- Prices are similar, with a bowl of noodles running around 12 baht.
The Noodles, Soup, and Broth at Anong Boat Noodle
- The broth here is sweeter and much less spicy (although you can add ground chili to your bowl to taste!).
- The broth is a bit thinner than the others.
- The meat in the pork noodle soup is extremely soft and tender.
Rua Thong Noodle (Golden Boat)
Location and Atmosphere of Rua Thong
- The next restaurant along the canal is Rua Thong, which means "Golden Boat".
- Rua Thong offers both indoor and outdoor seating.
- The outdoor seating along the canal is very nice!
The Menu at Rua Thong
- Small bowl: 12 baht
- Large bowl: 40 baht
- This restaurant also offers "Khao Soy", a delicious northern Thai noodle dish (40 baht).
The Noodles, Soup, and Broth at Rua Thong
- Good, thick broth.
- The broth at Rua Thong is quite spicy, and not so sour.
- Very soft and tender pork.
- The broth at Rua Thong is the spiciest.
Paa Yak Boat Noodles - Fourth Shop
The Location and Atmosphere of Paa Yak Boat Noodle
- Proclaiming itself to be "The Best Noodle Boat", Paa Yak sits at the very end of the khlong.
- The restaurant is fairly quiet, but popular.
- There is no indoor seating, but plenty of tables along the canal.
The Menu at Paa Yak Boat Noodle
- A small bowl of noodles here is the cheapest; only 10 baht each!
The Noodles, Soup, and Broth at Paa Yak Boat Noodle
- The broth is quite sour, making this bowl of noodles very traditional!
- The soup is a bit spicy.
- They include a lot of pork!
So enjoy! Pull up a chair at your noodle restaurant of choice, and begin building a tower of your empty noodle bowls! Or, do as we did, and have a bowl or two from each shop along the canal! You won't be disappointed with this tasty and super cheap meal!