With a long history of over 200 years, the development of the Kra Canal is once again the expectation of Thailand as well as that of the world community. It is only a matter of time that the project will be realized.
In the Ayutthaya Period, Siam started trading with the European, such as the Portuguese, Dutch and the French. King Narai the Great, during his reign , promoted diplomatic relations with King Louise XIV of French by sending Phya Kosathibodee (Pan) to French. Later, in1677, King Louise XIV sent his ambassador , Monsieur Chervalier De Chaumont, to strengthen the relationship between the two countries and agreements were signed and King Narai the Great allowed the French to inaugurate a trading station in Songkla. He asked Monsieur Veret, a French merchant , was assigned to control and conduct a survey of Songkla. He asked Monsieur De Lamar , an engineer , to conduct the survey. Monsieur De Lamar thought that because of the geographical features, the then existing waterway of Songkla could be adapted to connect with Tanausri and Marid in Burma . This considered the first idea of building a route to link the coasts in the south of Thailand.
In the region of King Rama I, Prince Bovornmahasurasiharat, the King’s brother, imagined the construction of waterway which would like the two coasts that could be used as an important route for troops sent to fight wtih Burma.
Around 1858, in the reign of King Rama I, Britain asked for permission to construct the Kra Isthmus Canal at Ranog – Lung suan, which is the narrowest part of the Thailand . Although the King gave permission, there was the problem of the large amount capital investment involved and the project was abandoned. However, Britain still showed her intention and continued with her attempts. This can be seen from evidence discovered that in 1863, a group of Englishmen conducted a survey and concluded that a canal could not be constructed at the narrowest part of the land because of obstruction from the mountain ranges. The construction would be very difficult and thus , the project was abandoned.
From 1866-1878, the Kra Canal Project was made famous again when the French asked Rama IV for permission to build a canal after they have complete construction of Suez Canal. However, the King did not give permission for fear of losing the area on the Malay Peninsula side. In addition , the canal to be built would affect the benefits England derived from Penang ang Singapore . To aviod pressure from France , the King give tin mining concessions to people of the British government in order to counter France ‘s power.
Around 1872, in the early period of King Rama V’s region, Captain A.G. Lopton who was a representative of British Government , conducted another survey in the area of Ranong ,Chumporn. His report, published in 1882, started that construction of a canal is possible. After that , on June 13,1882 Monsieur Ferdinand de Lesseps, a French engineer who had accomplished the building of the Suez Canal , asked King Rama V for permission to construct the Kra Canal . Permission was refused because of international political problems existing at that time.
During the regin of King Rama VI in 1917, it can be seen from the diary of Khun Jamuen Amorndarunarak ( Jam Suntoravech) who recorded a trip he made with the King by elephants to the south , that King Rama VI was also interested in the Kra canal Project ( because foreign businessmen and geologists asked for a construction concession for the Kra Canal). The King thought that if he permitted the construction, it would be of great benefit to the country. However , due to international political problems existing at that time , the King decided not to give permission.