Canal & River boats, Bangkok
We had seen the water taxis on the Chayo Praya and the canal near our hotel and decided we must try this form of transport. We were informed to avoid peak hour when all the business people are going to/ returning from work as it gets very hectic at the wharf as there is very little time to get on and off the boat. Our trip proved that advice.
We had been at River City and decided to walk through the streets to a nearby canal and catch the water taxi back to our hotel on Phayathai Road. After a 15 minute walk we reached the wharf and managed to get on board, a little difficult as I am very tall and my wife also experienced trouble, the seating was very tight but once aboard it was good. The conductor walks along the outside rail and collect the fare, in our case 8 baht, but really 10 baht as you do not get change. It was 5:00pm peak hour and the boat quickly filled, most likely 100 people crammed in, they worked the side pulley and "side curtains" came up on the outside and stayed up for the duration of the trip. This is to keep the water from splashing you as there is much activity on the water and at times rough. The trip was at high speed and we made 4 stops, at our stop it was difficult to get out as we had to step over the "side curtains". The trip along the canals gave us an insight as to how local people lived, I think the location would be upper class suburb. A most enjoyable mode of travel.
The Cross-river ferry provides a useful means of transport when visiting two of Bangkok’s most popular riverside attractions.
The small passenger ferry makes the 2 minute crossing of the Chao Phraya river every few minutes throughout the day, connecting Wat Pho on one side of the river with Wat Arun on the other side.
If you catch the Chao Phraya Express Boat along the river, alight at Pier #8: Tha Tien (the pier for Wat Pho) and connect to the cross-river ferry.
No tickets are issued for the cross-river ferry, just pay your 3 Bahts (approx. 0.05 GBP) to the elderly lady operating the turnstile and board the next boat that comes along.
The above details were correct as at September 2007 when I made the journey.
There are many ways to travel in Bangkok. Some prefer the meter taxi which should start from 35bath. Others prefer the sky train & bought themselves 'tourist tickets' (250bath for 10 trips). Many hate the tuk- tuk because the drivers always try to overcharge the tourist while others like it so much. You'll have to negotiate the price before you jump in to one & I guess that's one of the reason most people avoid the tuk-tuk .We use all & enjoy the boat service most. We paid only 10bath per person from Pratunam to Bobae...They are faster & cheaper with no traffic jam!
There are four types of boats, spotted by a flag in different colours.
Pictures in the web: Chao Praya River and Pier
Main boat - Chao Praya Pier:
01. Saphan Taksin bridge
02. Oriental Pier
03. Wat Muang kae Pier
04. Si Phraya Pier
05. Harbour Dept Pier
06. Rachawongse Pier
07. Memorial Bridge Pier
Near is: Chinatown
08. Rajinee Pier
09. Tha Tien Pier
Near is: Wat Pho
10. Tha Chang Pier
Near is: Wat Phra Khaew
11. Wang lang (Siriraj) Pier
12. Thonburi Railway Pier
13. Phra Pin Klao Bridge Pier
14. Phra Arthit Pier
15. RAMA 8 Bridge Pier
16. Thewet Pier
17. Krung Thon Bridge Pier
18. Wat Thepnahree Pier
19. Payap Pier
20. Irrigation Dept Pier
21. Kheaw Khai Ka Pier
22. Kiak Kai Pier
23. Bang Po Pier
24. Wat Soi Thong Pier
25. RAMA 7 Bridge Pier
26. Pibul 1 Pier
27. Wat Khema Pier
28. Wat Tuek Pier
29. Wat Kien Pier
30. Pibul 2 Pier
Bangkok and the Choa Praya river ... its hard to picture one without another. And to complement the trip, we decided to try out the river taxi's (well.. it wasnt the original ones taken by the locals as we hired one for a trip) but it was close enough. Anyhow.. from the Grand Palace, ask a guide and he would navigate you to the river. I cant quite remember how much it cost but it should be approx THB400.00 I think.The trip takes around an hour and stops at Wan Arun. And if you're lucky, you might get visited by some floating marketish influents as well!
When you arrive to the river piers, there are several kinds of boats:
1.- The touristic boats. More expensive, with loudspeakers comments, less stops at touristic places.
2.- Normal boats, locals, with many stops, cheaper. They have blue roofs
3.- Boats JUST TO CROSS to the other shore, those with the red roof, don't be mistaken
Take the skytrain down to the river, and then use the river taxis to get around Bangkok. You can visit Chinatown , Grand Palce, Wat Po, Temple of the Dawn, Royal Barge Museum, canal tours etc all from the river taxis. These are cheap, and you travel with the locals, and your views are phenominal
The canal buses that run along Klong Sen Seb are an impressively quick way of getting from one side of town to the other.
For tourists they usefully run from near the Democracy monument a 10-minute walk from Khasaon Road to the main shopping area around Thanon Rama. The stop at Tha Saphan Hua Chang is usefully close to the skytrain stop at Ratchathevi and the Jim Thompson house.
These little boats come by every few minutes - just jump on and find a seat in the serried rows. Several men in bicycle type helmets dance along the side of the boat to collect fares.
Don't think this will be scenic canal trip however - the boats set off at a furious pace as the plastic sheeting on both sides is lifted to avoid the worst of the splashes.
At one point (beware if you are tall and standing up) the whole roof is lowered without warning to get under and especially low-slung bridge - duck !
With small boat, you can find this Chao Phraya river and the klong in shallow water. Beware your butt about sitting there. Sometimes not so comfy and the views was coverage by the soft top of the boat. I have my own way by sitting on top of the seat!!! Oh!!!
If you’re able to use this mode of transport when you’re in Bangkok…don’t hesitate to UNLESS maybe you have an aversion to water.. :o) If river transit works for your destination you’ll be able to avoid the traffic congestion that Bangkok is famous for.
Nonthaburi pier is the most northerly stop along the river and the southernmost pier is at the Taksin Bridge close to Sathorn Rd. where you’ll be able to connect with the sky train.
The water “taxi” was the easiest, the quickest, and the most reliable mode of transit that I used while visiting Bangkok. I kind of enjoy the water and if there’s any opportunity to be on a boat…I’ll be on it!
This was is a VERY INEXPENSIVE way to get myself to and from Wat Pho, Wat Arun, and The Grand Palace from where I stayed in the Banglumpoo Area, not too far a walk from Kho San Road. A short fifteen minute walk to Stop 13 and I was on my way….
You can pick up a map that shows the stops and the “attractions” that are nearby to any particular stop. I think the hotel that I stayed at provided us with maps if my memory is correct but you can get them at the infamous 7/11 s that you’ll see around town or any Pier Station along the river.
There are a number of commercial boat services that move up and down the river at fairly regular intervals, including Longtails….and they all use the same wharves. Waiting for the next boat was never for long and it was always a treat to watch the traffic on the river, waiting for the next boat to come along. The stops are identified by a sign on the “street side” of the wharf complex, and as you enter you will see a ticket booth. It’s not necessary to purchase your boat tickets here unless you’re latching onto a “Tour” boat.
When the boat pulls up to the wharf the “conductor” will allow access..people are allowed to get off before those getting are allowed to board. I never prepaid my trip. The conductor will collect the fare from you as the boat is under way.
The cost is again totally minimal…it’s ridiculously inexpensive by Western standards although sorry; I can’t remember exactly how much the far was.
The Chao Praya River offers transportation relief from the slow and chaotic road traffic in Bangkok.
There are many kinds of boat services, from the express boats, to the boats belonging to the various luxury hotels along the river to the little river-taxis that you can hire yourself.
If you're the people who take the BTS, go to the last station, Saphan Taksin and from there you have many choices. Some people like the tourist boat but it's not my favourite because stops at the same piers that the express boat and also it's so difficult to understand what the guide is saying, so you have to pay 100 bath when easily you can pay only 18 bath going by express boat (with yellow flag) and is very easy to know in which pier you have to disembark by looking a map if you want to go to the temples; you'll see, when you back, you can take even the blue boat and pay only 9 bath, just that it stops every pier.
I forgot to say that the ticket bought to go by tourist boat is a one-day pass ticket, for one day unlimited trips, not only in the tourist boat but in the express boat (same company).
Do take the river taxi's. They are super cheap (about 10-20 baht for wherever you may want to go downtown) It's also a great way to see the city the way many locals do. It's also a great break away from the bustle of automobile traffic (although there is plenty of river traffic to contend with) but you are much safer in a boat than in the street!
To get to Wat Po (reclining Buddha) and Wat Phra Kaew (Emerald Buddha and Grand Palace) temples on your own without using a cab, tuktuk or going through traffic, take the BTS and Chao Phraya river boats. Here are the steps:
1) from the Siam Center station, take the BTS line that goes to Saphan Taksin which is the terminal station (cost: 30 baht).
2) get down the stairs to the Chao Phraya boat station/pier.
3) wait for the long boat that takes in all commuters, including locals. Other boats stop here too, like those ran by hotels along the river banks, so know what you're boarding on.
4) on the boat, a conductress goes around selling tickets. She is the one rattling a metal cylinder that contains the coins and tickets. Tell her where you're going and you pay up (cost: 13 baht to either temple).
5) For Wat Po, get off at Tha Tien. For the Grand Palace, get off at Tha Chang. The 2 are just next to each other.
6) For the return trip, just reverse the sequence.
It’s dead easy to get Chao Phraya River Buses up and down the river, look for the pier with other tourist Caucasian people on, and ensure that the boat has a pointy front, a flat back and is coming from either up or down stream.
This then is a Chao Phraya river taxi / public bus.
Right. Transport Tips.
One. Let the buggers off first. We ain’t dealing with “mind the platform gap” on the London Underground here. “Oh dear you slipped! Oh did you bash your bag?” Nup, we’re talking, “Oooops you is in the Chao Phraya, getting squashed between the boat and the pier. You are mouth washing with the world’s most toxic raw sewage, don’t swallow!” (OK Thai fish can swim in it, but then prawns are also known to hang around toilet cistern outlets heh?). And you’ll have a film of grease in your hair that Procter & Gamble’s lab team can’t assist with. I have seen folk fall in – and it is quite a fiasco.
So let them off first!
Two: Then jump on quick like buggery before the boat pulls away as the Thai bloke peeps his whistle. (also see tip one)
Three: The fare? Daft variations on 2 THB, 3 THB and 7 THB. Personally, I rarely pay for anything less than a bottle of Heineken at 35 THB from 7-Eleven, so I find this rather quaint. Try and have some shrapnel / change.
Four: Using the river is the best way to get around the bits of Bangkok …that are close to the river. Leave the cabs and tuk tuks for the non river bits.
Five: Using Humphrey Bogart phrases (African Queen, 1951) are rarely understood by the conductoress / fare taker… “I asked you on board ‘cause I was sorry for you on account of your losing your brother and all. That’s what you get for feeling sorry for someone. Well, I ain’t sorry no more, you crazy psalm-singing, skinny old maid!” ...Shame, it's not a bad one liner.