Asia, with its diverse landscape and rich cultural tapestry, is home to some of the most beautiful canal cities in the world. In these Asian canal cities, life pulsates along the waterways.
And they also offer a unique blend of historic charm and modern vibrance. From Suzhou’s Chinese waterways to Bangkok’s bustling river markets, each city offers a unique aquatic vista!
Best Canal Cities in Asia You Must Visit
Let’s dive in without further ado!
1/ Bangkok, Thailand
Bangkok is the most famous canal city in the world that dates back to the city’s founding in 1782. It has over 9 primary canals for transportation, recreation, and tourism.
The canals of Bangkok bring life to the city, with its long-tail boats filled with locals and tourists alike.
You’ll also find lively night markets along the canal banks selling everything from food to souvenirs. And it has tons of things to do.
2/ Suzhou, China
Suzhou is renowned for its 21 beautiful canals, which have existed since the 5th century. It has often been referred to as the “Venice of the East” and has some of the most beautiful waterways in Asia.
The city boasts more than many canals, lined with traditional bridges, pagodas, and historic buildings. While there, don’t forget to visit the Suzhou Ancient Grand Canal and explore history while enjoying a stunning bit of nature.
3/ Kochi, India
Kochi is one of the best canal cities in Asia. It’s an Indian coastal city in the southwestern state of Kerala, with an extensive network of canals and lagoons.
The canals connect the mainland to several islands off the coast. You’ll be amazed by the beauty of Kochi’s backwaters, where you can spot crabs, turtles, and other wildlife.
4/ Inle Lake, Myanmar
Inle Lake is a picturesque lake located in the Shan hills of Myanmar. It is home to several floating villages and markets along its banks.
Here you can take a boat ride on the waters and explore traditional villages inhabited by locals. The lake’s waters are also dotted with fisherman practicing their ancient leg-rowing technique.
5/ Takayama, Japan
Takayama is a charming city in central Japan with beautiful canals. The canals are lined with traditional wooden houses and shrines, creating a unique experience.
Visitors can also take boat tours to get an up-close look at the local life bustling along the canal banks.
6/ Malacca, Malaysia
Malacca is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its historic canals and Portuguese and Dutch colonial architecture. It’s one of the best Asian canal cities with a rich cultural and historical heritage.
The canals showcase a picturesque waterfront lined with colorful shophouses. You can take boat rides to explore the old town or stroll along the canal banks.
7/ Luang Prabang, Laos
Luang Prabang is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its old town, built on a bend of the Mekong River. It’s one of the best canal cities in Asia because of its beautiful view.
But it doesn’t have as extensive and as grand as the canals of other cities mentioned here.
8/ Hoi An, Vietnam
Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage Site known for its well-preserved old town, lined with canals and Chinese shophouses.
The canals of this city are also known for their vibrant nightlife, with locals and tourists enjoying the cool evening breeze along the banks.
9/ Fukuoka City, Japan
Fukuoka City is a vibrant port city located on the island of Kyushu in Japan. The Japanese city has several canals connected to Hakata Bay, including the Nakagawa Canal and Ohori Park.
The canals offer a unique view of the city, with its modern skyscrapers and traditional wooden buildings.
10/ Ayutthaya, Thailand
Ayutthaya was the former capital of Thailand and is known for its ruins, located on an island in the Chao Phraya River. The city also has several beautiful canals in Asia, which run through its old town.
These canals offer a unique view of the ruins and temples on the riverbanks. You can take boat tours to explore these ancient sights. Or enjoy some peaceful time along the canal banks.
11/ Galle Fort, Galle, Sri Lanka
Galle Fort is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located on the coast of Sri Lanka. A moat surrounds the fort and is home to several canals. These canals offer an exciting view of the fort, with its old buildings and stunning architecture.
You can take boat tours to explore the fort from a unique perspective. And you can also visit places such as Dutch Reformed Church or the Maritime Museum on the riverbanks.
12/ Puerto Princesa, Philippines
Puerto Princesa is the largest city in the Philippines, home to some of the country’s most beautiful canals. The city has a vibrant culture, colorful markets, old churches, and a bustling waterfront.
The canals of Puerto Princesa offer an exciting glimpse into local life, with locals going about their daily activities on the banks.
13/ Kurashiki, Japan
Kurashiki is a small city located in Japan’s Okayama Prefecture. The city is known for its canals, lined with picturesque white-walled warehouses and old buildings.
The canals were built to connect city storehouses with the nearby port for easy boat navigation.
14/ Zhujiajiao, Shanghai, China
Zhujiajiao is an ancient Chinese water town located 30 km from Shanghai. It’s undoubtedly one of the most beautiful canal towns in Asia. The canals are lined with traditional bridges, pagodas, and quaint wooden buildings.
And you can also visit places such as Qing Dynasty temples and markets located on the banks of Zhujiajiao. It’s the perfect place to explore China’s history and culture while enjoying stunning scenery.
15/ Lijiang, China
Lijiang is a picturesque city located in Yunnan Province, China. The city’s canals are lined with traditional buildings and cobblestone streets. You can take boat tours to explore the old town or relax on one of its peaceful canal banks.
16/ Can Tho, Vietnam
Can Tho is the capital of Vietnam’s Mekong Delta region. The city has several canals, which offer spectacular views of the surrounding countryside.
17/ Yanagawa, Japan
Yanagawa is a small town located in Fukuoka Prefecture, Japan. The city has several canals lined with willow trees and old wooden buildings. There’s also a River Museum on one of its riverbanks, which offers an exciting glimpse into history and culture.
18/ Xitang, China
Xitang is a small town located in the Zhejiang Province of China. It’s known for its traditional Chinese architecture and canals lined with old buildings and quaint bridges.
19/ Suzdal, Russia
Suzdal is a small city located in Russia’s Vladimir Oblast region. It has some of the most beautiful canals in Asia, with its picturesque waterfront lined with colorful shop-houses and ancient churches.
20/ Yangzhou, China
Yangzhou is a vibrant city located in China’s Jiangsu Province. It’s known for its canals, lined with traditional buildings and picturesque bridges.
Several parks are located on the banks of these canals, offering visitors the perfect spot to relax and take in some stunning views.
21/ Kampong Ayer, Brunei
Kampong Ayer, an ancient water village in Brunei, is one of the best canal cities in Asia. It’s unique for its canals, lined with traditional wooden and stilt houses.
It’s also called the Venice of the East because of its network of canals running through the village.
22/ Wuzhen, China
Wuzhen is a picturesque water town located in China’s Zhejiang Province. It has some of the most beautiful canals in Asia, with its traditional architecture and quaint wooden buildings lined along the shore.
You can even take this fun day trip to the two well-known Chinese water towns.
23/ Hpa-An, Myanmar
Hpa-An is one of the best canal towns in Asia, Myanmar’s Kayin State. Its canal offer stunning views of the surrounding countryside and traditional wooden buildings.
24/ Palembang, Indonesia
Palembang is the capital of South Sumatra Province in Indonesia. It’s home to several canals, which offer an intersting view of its vibrant markets and ancient temples. You can take boat tours to explore these canals or relax on one of their banks.
25/ Kompong Chhnang, Cambodia
Kompong Chhnang is a small floating town in Cambodia. Several canals are lined with traditional wooden and stilt houses, offering an interesting view of local life. Go for this tour to Kompong Chhnang floating village to enjoy it fully.
26/ Nonthaburi, Thailand
Nonthaburi is a small city located in Thailand. It’s one of the best canal cities in Asia, with its picturesque waterfront lined with colorful wooden buildings and ancient temples.
27/ Hangzhou, China
Hangzhou is a vibrant city located in China’s Zhejiang Province. It has some of the prettiest canals in Asia, with its picturesque waterfront lined with ancient temples and traditional buildings.
28/ Siem Reap, Cambodia
Siem Reap is a vibrant city located in Cambodia. It has several canals that offer stunning views of its traditional architecture and bustling streets.
FAQs for the Beautiful Asian Towns & Cities
Now the question-answer time!
Which cities have the most canals?
The top five cities with the most canals include Venice in Italy, Amsterdam in the Netherlands, Cape Coral in the US, Suzhou in China, Malacca in Malaysia, and Bangkok in Thailand. You can check out the best canal cities in the world here.
Which city in the world has the most waterways?
Cape Coral has the highest number of waterways in the world, boasting more than 400 miles of canals. Meanwhile, Russia has the greatest number of canals, with a staggering 2,293,412 waterways coursing through its expansive territory.
Following closely behind are Brazil, with 153,348 waterways, and China, with 138,357 waterways.
What is the most famous canal in Asia?
The Grand Canal of China is probably the most famous in Asia. This 2,500-year-old waterway was built to link different Chinese provinces and help promote trade between them. The canal is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
What country is known for the canal?
The countries known for their canals include Italy, Netherlands, China, Malaysia, and Thailand. All these countries are famous for their beautiful canals, which have become popular tourist attractions.
What country has canals instead of streets?
The Netherlands is one country that has canals instead of streets in one of its towns, Giethoorn. It’s known as the “Venice of the North” because of its extensive network of canals. The canals are used for transportation, recreation, and tourism.
Visiting one or more of these beautiful Asian canal cities is an experience you won’t forget. From the stunning architecture to the bustling riverbanks, each canal city in Asia offers something unique.