Bangkok art canal wins Asian townscape award

An old Bangkok canal that residents cleaned up and transformed into a causeway for art galleries and cafes has won a 2020 Asian Townscape Award from UN-Habitat for landscape improvement. The award is another sign that Thailand’s vibrant capital is becoming ever more cosmopolitan.
“A couple of years ago, Klong Ong Ang was just another dirty canal filled with murky and smelly water. Today, it has become a beautiful pedestrian walkway with walking streets and beautiful views,” The Smart Local, an online news and a culture site said when the renovation was completed late last year.
UN-Habitat Fukuoka selected Klong Ong Ang for the award along with five other locations in Asia that demonstrated outstanding improvement in landscape, art, culture, safety and the quality of life of people in surrounding communities.
The footpaths lining each side of the canal in the old quarter of Bangkok have been turned into walking streets that feature musical performances, street art exhibitions, and local crafts and products.
They can even kayak in the once-polluted canal. Or partake of the variety of fare at the newly opened cafes and restaurants along the banks of the klong, the Thai word for canal.
The canal has a long history. Klong Ong Ang is a section of Klong Rop Krung, a moat that was constructed soon after King Rama I established Bangkok as the new Thai capital in 1782.
About five years ago, the city realized the canal’s potential. Second-hand photo equipment shops and toy stores had dominated that patch of the town. But the shops, many of which were built over the canal, were cleared in 2015.
Since reopening last year, the canal has become a hit with Thai and foreign visitors who clearly appreciate its charm.