The Ping River is located about 1km east of the city walls. Along with the Nan River, it is one of the two main contributories of Chao Phraya River which flows through Bangkok. It originates at Doi Chiang Dao in Chiang Dao district, Chiang Mai Province. After passing Chiang Mai town, it flows through the provinces of Lamphun, Tak, and Kamphaeng Phet. At the confluence with the Nan River at Nakhon Sawan, it forms the Chao Phraya River. A good place to view it is from a footbridge that located to the north of the Nawarat Bridge near the Talat Warorot.
I find the river nothing interesting at all at day time. Perhaps it will be lively when night falls or during special occasion like the Loy Krathong. There are some bars, pubs, restaurants & spa boutiques situated along the river.
It is well worth seeing the large modern homes that dot the banks of the Ping River. Depending where your hotel is you could walk to the river and view from one of the many bridges, or perhaps hire a taxi or tut tut and tour the bridges. We chose to take a river cruise and had a great view of these homes. Our guide told us the owners of these luxury homes, I recall one being a movie star's holiday home, another a former Prime Minister's holiday home etc etc.
Over the years the city has developed alongside the river, both commercial and residential. Similar to trends worldwide, living alongside a river is favoured by the wealthy and the Ping is no different. Although there are still traditional homes we saw many new mansions , some luxury high rise apartments and several areas where dredging was in progress.
Our cruise was on a traditional longboat with canopy shading us from the hot sun as we cruised up river for approximately 8 km. The young driver spoke good english and gave a good commentary, answering all our questions.We saw locals using the river for bathing, washing clothes , fishing etc and eventually reached our destination of a Farmers House where we left the boat and were given a tour of the garden where various fruits, rice and spices were grown in demonstration plots.The guide's commentary and explanation of uses for the spices were enjoyed by all, particularly the women. We were given cold drinks and spent a half hour viewing the museum within the house, saw a demonstration of traditional ways of dehusking rice, making rice flour etc. We then boarded the boat and cruised back down the river. All up the tour took 2 hours and was most enjoyable.