The Chao Phraya river cuts right through Bangkok, and it is a central element of the transportation system. A fleet of swift taxis ply the river up and down all day long, cutting off around nightfall. But it is a terrific way to get close to the downtown area (and all the shopping and culture that it holds), as well as move up to the sights of the King's Palace and Wats Pho and Arun.
The river taxi system is most used by Thai residents on their daily commutes. To accommodate as many people as possible, the ticket takers try to pack you in, and during the rush hours it can be overflowing with people. But, it is a slice of real life of Bangkok, away from taxis and air conditioned rides, you are traveling amongst kids going to school, business men on their way to the office, families to the market. With a few foreign backpackers tossed in for variety.
Beyond a means of transportation, a trip up or down the river is a travel experience of itself, a highlight reel of the sights from the banks of the Chao Phraya. If you can grab a seat, relax and let the smell of the river and the skyline of the city wash over you. And for about 7-20 bhat, you can't find much better of a deal in the city.
Until the middle of the 20th Century, Thailand was known as Siam which translates as "people of the river". The Chao Phya may be the single most important factor in the development of Thai culture. Formed from 4 tributaries arising in the mountains, it has been the site of every major development in the history of the country. The 4 capitals - Sukkothai, Ayutthaya, Thonburi, and Bangkok have all been on its banks progressing steadily southward over time. External influences have come north up the river to the major capitals.
The Chao Phya is "The River of Kings". Being a tourist in Bangkok requires intimate contact with the river - to visit the Khlongs, the temples, and the upriver tourist attractions.
This is a busy river! There are boats going up & down it all day long. It's a very cheap way to travel around Bangkok.
After being typical tourists and checking out the huge Reclining Buddha it was time to hit the shops, but we really had no idea where to go. We made our way back to the river, jumped on one of the boats that arrived just as we got there. Very crowded, no seats left, didn't matter. Managed to make it known that we wanted to get to the sky train. Didn't take too long, just as well because we had an unexpected torrential tropical downpour!! We were under cover...sort of. Can't remember what it cost but it was minimal.
Believe me, watching sunset at another great river (Chao Phraya) of Asia is really something wonderful for me.
I can spend whole evening waiting for sunset & clicking away hoping to get a perfect shot. Well, this is just one of those great shots.
Like the great River of Mekong, Chao Phraya River is almost a life line to Thais in the olden days, and till now it still plays an important roles although other mode of transportations and exchanges had been evolved much along River of Chao Phraya.
This is about the Chao Phraya River the principal river in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. When I was living in Bangkok I often traveled on this river by commuter boat to avoid the horrendous traffic jams of the sprawling metropolis.
Traveling by boat on the Chao Phraya River.....
There are several ways to take a river cruise in Bangkok. The cheapest is to take the Orange Flag line commuter boat which starts from the suburb of Nonthaburi and ends at Rat Burana pier in Bangkok. There are at least 20 stops on this route where one can get on/off. Tourists normally get on at Phra Athit pier as it is the closest to Khao San Road the main area where backpackers stay for cheap accommodation, shopping and sightseeing. Since I lived in the Sam Sen district of Bangkok, the nearest pier to my apartment was Phayap which is only a 10 minute walk away. The one way boat fare is 15 baht which is about 50 US cents, whether you travel the whole route or in parts. In other words, the same fare applies even if you get off after a couple of stops, or go the whole way. As this is a cheap and quick mode of transportation the boats are always crowded with passengers, particularly during rush hours. But of course in Bangkok, anytime can be rush hour! As far as I can remember, the operating hours of the Orange Line boats are from 6 am to 7:30 pm on weekdays, and 6 am to 6:30 pm on weekends and holidays.
If you want to take a boat exclusively for tourists, there is a small counter at the Phra Athit pier. This counter consists of a chair and a table with a sign saying 'Tourist Boat.' I have never taken it so can't say how much it costs, but I do know that it ends at the Sathon pier, and their number of boats/operating hours are also less than the local ones . However, it does cover the same route as the Orange Flag boats, but with far fewer stops, and the seating on board is much more comfortable than the commuter boats.
If you're one of those types who prefer privacy and can afford it, you might want to hire a water taxi known as 'longtails' for an hour or so. I recommend this only if you're on an unlimited budget as it might cost you an arm and a leg! The luxury hotels along the river (of which there are many) also offer their guests a short cruise with the hotels' own boats. I have seen these boats as they have the name of the hotel written on them.
Lastly, several tour companies operate dinner cruises in the evening. I have been on them a couple of times when I had guests visiting me. You pay something like $30 for a set dinner which is not too bad, but does not include alcoholic beverages. There is usually some entertainment on board in the form of a cultural dance performance. The cruise itself lasts for about an hour and half, and as far as I know, both the boarding and getting off points are still at Pier N3 (Si Phraya) which is close to the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel.
In case you're wondering why the Chao Phraya is referred to as 'The River of Kings,' it is because all the kings who formerly ruled Thailand (including the present monarch) traveled on this river in a Royal Barge procession with all its pomp and grandeur. I must admit though that I've never seen it in person, but have watched it on TV a couple of times.
This blog is written from my own personal experience of having lived in Bangkok, the 'City of Angels' (as in its Los Angeles counterpart) for five years, and I hope it will be useful information for future travelers to Thailand.
A lot of the city's top tourist attractions are easily accessible from the Chao Phraya River, such as the Grand Palace, the Emerald Buddha, Wat Po, Temple of Dawn, the flower market, Chinatown, etc., so you can choose any of the above mentioned boats.....WAY TO GO.....to have a fun time in one of the most popular destinations in Asia, if not the world!
A short and quick trip on a boat along the canal, and we arrived at the market. We left the boat and enjoyed the show.
Is it always like that?
Is it revivalism for tourist amusement? No. It looks natural, and locals sell and buy indifferent to the curiosity of western people - but taking advantage of them, of course.
The Chao Phraya River is the lifeline of Bangkok. It is the main waterway of the city. In the north, it eventually merges with the Mekong. In Bangkok, its shores are lined with stilt houses, some inhabited for generations. In other areas, its banks are lined with hotels and condominiums. Ferries, longboats and an assortment of other vessels ply the water serving natives and visitors alike.
River of the Kings, this was once the life blood of the city, along with its Khlongs ( canals) buzzed with life, its still busy today as most of Bangkok’s main attractions lie along the banks of the Phraya , so it’s a great way to get around
You can buy the bread for 20 baht to feed the fishes.
We were here supposedly to see the floating market but there were only a few in sight.The water was choppy when the big longboats pass with all the tourists and these poor guys was trying to get to the longboats to sell souveniors. I managed to buy some stuffs as I pitied the guy, he was hanging on to his small boat by holding on to our boat and trying not to fall in the water. Not a good place for a floating market.And I felt like I didnt really see the real floating market, like the one we saw on tv.
The river is not only one of the main arteries of the city but also your best ally when visiting the temples and seeing the sights. It will allow you to get to the different districts and neighbourghoods for a few baths only and quick,quick and fast !
A very good way to see the city and get a good view of the kind of landscape you are dealing with is just to go for a little cruise on the river. It does not have to be one of the rented boats. The ferry can doo the trick just as well and you get to mix with locals and not so locals :-)
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.
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.