A cruise on the Chao Praya river is essential for a complete knowledge of the city (or for a quick tour), allowing you to get an overview on the contradictions of this beautiful capital.
There is a large variety of boats you can chose from, starting from small rowing boats up to cruise liners: take your choice!
My suggestiion is to be brave and to experience small boats since their size allows them to access small canals and to move from the big and luxurious hotels bordering the river to the poor houses and the floating markets held in the more hidden locations of the city on the small canals.
Small boats stop on different locations (ex house of snakes) and wait for you to come back. Since we were in a hurry, we only stopped at the Wat Arun temple.
PS: Be careful! The river is highly polluted!
It was great to take to the water and cruise down the the chao phraya river in an old rice barge taking in sights such as the grand palace, temple of dawn and the temple of the emerald buddah lit up along the river banks whilst enjoying a six course thai meal.
After the meal dancers put on a show of traditional Thai dancing.
The food was of a reasonable standard but it was the ambience of the boat that made the trip worthwhile.
Watching the boats in Chao Praya
Name: Chao Praya
Attraction Type: Watching boats, River
First Photo: Chinese style boat in Chao Praya river
Second photo: Chinese style boat in Chao Praya river
Third photo: Boat in Chao Praya
Forth photo: Tanker in Chao Praya river
Fifth photo: Small boat
Most of the 5 star hotels have free ferries across the Chao Phraya River. For a cheap outing, or spend as much or as little as you want, jump on one of the ferries and take a short ride across the river. It is only short but you get to see a plethora of river life, from barges to cruise boats, floating restaurants and the usual small boats that ply the river. Then jump off at the chosen hotel, wander around the gardens and the public rooms looking at the decor and the art work. If you're like me, the decor and art work in your 3 star hotel is not quite up to this standard. If you're feeling wealthy, have a drink or morning or afternoon tea in one of the bars or restaurants. If not, carry your own snacks and have a wander. It was a most enjoyable afternoon and unfortunately we only had the chance to visit the Peninsula, whereas there are many other hotels we didn't get to see.
The Rama VIII Bridge officially opened on September 20th, 2002. The cable-stayed bridge consists of a single pylon located approximately one-third of the distance from the northwest end of the bridge. Golden suspension cables extend from this pylon to the road surface. The Bridge is 2.45 km long including approach spans, and spans the Chao Phraya River.
The Mae Nam Chao Phraya means the river of Kings and allows you a great insight into the busy life of many in Bangkok. Upmarket hotels, temples, warehouses and local line the banks, the river is a hive of activity.
The best place to start is from Tha Sathon, accessible via the sky train Saphan Taksin station. Head up river and stop at the many access points - Chinatown, Wat Arun, the Grand Palace to name a few. You will eventually come across an elegant suspension bridge, Saphan Phra Ram VIII and then the concrete jungle transforms into greenery and temples. Last stop is Nonthaburi.
This is a great way to get a different perspective of Bangkok.
Take a ferry ride and join the locals for this experience..I took the sky train to the Ferry Terminal located at CENTRAL PIER .. and got off at (S6) station Saphan Taksin. at the Taksin Bridge...book a ticket for the next ferry as they leave regularly..I was told that this trip was called "Orange Phat" I got the ferry right to the end of its trip up the river and returned..This is the best way to see all the WATS and Temples that are along the river shoreline..go up the river on one side of the ferry and come back on the other..be aware these little ferries make many stops and are busy..fares are really cheap..
In the early Rattanakosin period Bangkok waterways were the main routes of transportation. Alot of the canals have now been filled in to make ways for roads but the Chao Phraya River still runs through many Thai lives.
A trip along the river is a pleasent way to spend the day, as you can get to see Bangkok from a different perspective.Also you can get out of the traffic jams and feel the breeze or maybe the river water on your face.Just don't open your mouth.As you cruise along the river you can see temples,churches ,hotels,new beautiful homes,old wooden houses and maybe children swimming in the murky water.So just get on a boat and see where the river takes you.
The Chao Phraya Express boat runs between Bangkok Bridge and Nonthaburi.There is also the Tourist Boat that connects to the BTS train at Sathone Pier to Bunglumphu pier (Khaosan Road)..
Take a dinner cruise along the Chao Phraya river .The River Side hotel cruise cost about 120 baht per person for the cruise.Even better you can order Thai or Chinese food cooked to order on board and drinks.On the boat there are two sections to sit, the air-con room with a live band or on the deck.
The boat leaves at around 8 pm from the hotel which is located near Krung Thon bridge. The boat heads towards Khrungthep ( Rama 8 ) bridge passing many well know landmarks and bridges along the way. As you go along the river begins to really take on another life after dark and when the boat pass the Temple Of Dawn all lit up ,your in for a treat!
We brought our own extra large "duty free"Black label .So a jolly time was had especially when the boat went under one of the many bridges...some you could almost touch....Whooo.....
First time visitors ought to see the bustling lifestyle along river and canals of Bangkok. In addition to longtail boats, it's possible to hop on the government sponsored tourist boats at certain stops, which are quite cheap. They start at Saphan Thaksin BTS station and end at the Royal Barges stop. Highly recommended.
Also, there are numerous cross river ferries that costs only 3 baht one way.
Chao Phraya River is the largest river in Bangkok. It runs right through the city, and have a hectic traffic with boats and many bridges. A river taxi is cheap and faster than the taxi during rush hour.
Many hotels and sites are found along the Chao Phraya river. Note that the hotel prices are higher here compared with other areas in Bangkok.
Now we were exhausted from seeing too much temples, we were thirsty and starving (!), and we just can't wait to have our lunch aboard the boat from ayutthaya, which will take us back to Pratunam.
It was already 1:30pm, already late for lunch, and our tour guide is already reminding us to take all our belongings this time because we will not be coming back by bus, etc. All of a sudden our tour guide brought us to - yes, another temple. And I could just hear a collective groan from the tourists (at least that's what i wanna think) hehehe. My friend was already shaking her head, my other friend exclaimed "Waaaaatt?!" :-)
Anyways, we had our lunch, and the small ship is air conditioned and the lunch was heaven! As usual, my girl friends and I ate like boys. Our new Japanese friend watched us eat and commented that in Japan, girls have two stomachs- one for the main meal and one for dessert (implicating that we are such glutons hehehe)
And because we are too concentrated with our food, we were unable to take pictures of the river.
Chao Phraya River plays many roles in Thai life, in fact it is regarded as the principal artery of the nation. Much of Thai history can be traced along the banks of the river. Old temples, palaces and communities can be found along Chao Phraya River.
The "Chao Phraya Princess Dinner Cruise" was a great night out cruisisg the river with "all you could eat" buffet. The trip is about 2 1/4 hours with good entertainment all the way. the scenery is beautiful with views of the Palace and Temples along the way. the cost is about AUD$34.00 per person. There is a transfer service to and from the Hotel.
The "River Kwai & Death Railway - War Museum - War Cemetery" is a full day trip but well worth seeing the places where so many allied soldiers died building this railway. Again, transfers are available to and from your Hotel. Cost about AUD$38.00 per person. (incl. lunch)
For night markets,go to Silom Rd.- Patpong Rd. area. The MBK Centre is like an indoor Market with around 2,500 shops. Easy to get to by Sky Rail.
For do's & don'ts in Thailand, I found a site by Virtual Tourist member csnyder to be excellent.
Bangkok does not have a walking path along the river, so it is not easy to follow its course in Rattanakosin (the central Bangkok), but walking around the streets you might find small passages that leads you to the river and the view is amazing. The city is secure and safe, you have nothing to fear in Bangkok and everyone will be smiling at you continuously and joyfully.