Thailand’s ubiquitous long-tailed jet-ski boats

May 7, 2017 6:17 pm Last Updated: May 7, 2017 6:17 pm

Longtail boats are seen all over southern Thailand, usually with a propeller attached to the end of a long pole. These narrow boats are good for passing through shallow waters, creeks, and even caves and irregular environments. They’re a cheap form of transportation, useful, and popular with tourists.

The boats’ design can be traced back to when Arabian and Indian merchants would flood the region’s waters to trade.

Originally, these wooden boats were put together with clever woodcraft and glue, though in the ’60s people began to use steel nails to speed up production. Then they began using engines instead of long oars.

The boats are largely popular with tourists and used for shopping trips, but people have also found another recreational use: drag racing.

Because the boats are so small and there is no safety equipment (no helmets, life vests, little protection from the elements), it’s a dangerous sport.