Rivers running through cities are particularly fascinating, and Bangkok’s Chao Phraya River is no exception. The piers along the river are the busiest parts of the city, and it is where some of the most famous attractions, restaurants, shops, and hotels are located.
Taking a cruise on the river is your chance to see a different side of Bangkok, to explore the city in a more fascinating way. The boat slowly travels on the river, while you watch theGrand Palace, the Temple of Dawn and other famous sights go by… and you enjoy a lovely buffet and some good live music − the perfect escape from the bustling city!
Read our brief guide and learn more about cruises on the Chao Phraya River.
- Admire the breathtaking skyline of Bangkok from Chao Phraya River.
- Enjoy the slow pace of the luxurious boat floating on the quiet waters of the river.
- While listening to live music and indulging in delicious food and drink.
- Stop at the many piers to see Bangkok’s most interesting attractions.
5-Day Essential Bangkok Tour:
Chao Phraya River in Bangkok
Bangkok was founded near a river because the site was fertile and had plenty of fish. In 1782, King Rama I founded modern Bangkok on the eastern banks (more favorable to the development of the city) and built some striking temples you can still admire today.
The Chao Phraya River became more and more famous, praised by famous travelers like Joseph Conrad, who gave to Bangkok the epithet of “Venice of the East”.
The river cruise is about 21 km long, and it will let you admire some of the most beautiful attractions of Bangkok’s landscape. Be sure not to miss the many wats, like the famous Wat Arun, or Temple of Dawn, lit at night for a unique view; or Wat Pho, located within the Grand Palace.
There are many piers along the river, each one of them with its own attractions and points of interest. Cruises usually depart from pier 1, Siphraya, and will slowly wind their way along the river going north, arriving at the River City Pier. The trip usually laststwo hours, and you will be entertained with live music while eating from a delicious buffet.
Chao Phraya Route Guide
As said above, the route along the Chao Phraya River has many piers on both sides. Each pier is characterized by some peculiar attractions, and all of them see plenty of shops, restaurants, and hotels. You can check the piers you are interested in and then take ferries to move from one to the other.
Sathorn (Central Pier)
One of the major piers in Bangkok, Sathorn, is the place to go for business hotels, high-end restaurants, and shops – there is an infinite choice of shopping places. From here, it is also extremely easy to reach Silom Road and Sathorn Road, two of the busiest streets of the city.
Besides, you will also find one of the botanical parks of Bangkok there, the Lumpini Park. There you can visit the artificial lake, go to the fitness center, or just wander around the green area – a nice break from the concrete jungle.
Oriental is characterized by a colonial atmosphere and some unique buildings you won’t easily find in the rest of the city. The Mandarin Oriental Hotel Bangkok is a luxurious hotel, ideal for an afternoon tea at the Author’s Lounge or a spa treatment.
If you like antiques, visit O.P. Place, a European-style structure, filled with boutiques selling artifacts, silk, furniture, jewelry, and much more.
When walking near Rachawong Road, be sure not to miss Chinatown, one of the most evocative neighborhoods of the whole city. It is your chance to buy some unusual souvenirs like: amulets, Canto Pop cassettes, Guan Yin statues, Chinese medical herbs, bird nest soup, and tons of other objects you won’t be likely to find anywhere else.
And if you want to see a different kind of temple, visit Wat MangkonKalamawat, a Chinese temple with Buddhist, Confucian, and Taoist shrines.
By stopping at the Memorial Bridge, you will have the chance to visit an interesting historical place:the King Rama I Monument, a huge statue celebrating the founder of the Chakri dynasty.
For more mundane activities, you can visit Pak Khlong Talad, Bangkok’s biggest 24-hour flower market (just 10 minutes away from the pier); SaphanPhut Night Market; or Little India, famous for its Hindu iconography.
Tha Tien feels like an obligatory stop, since there you can visit Wat Pho, one of the most important temples of the city. It is located close to the Grand Palace, and its most striking feature is the huge statue of the reclining Buddha.
When you cross the river you will find Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn, a majestic temple that dominates Bangkok’s skyline.
Tha Chang is full of things to do and see. The area is brimming with nostalgic atmosphere and shops dating back to King Rama V. The market on Maharaj Road sells everything, from false teeth to Buddhist amulets.
You can also visit Wat PhraKaew and Wat Mahathat, the holiest temples of the city; the Grand Palace and the National Museum.
Right in front of the pier, you can buy a delicious snack from the dozens of street vendors selling authentic Thai snacks.
12-Day Thailand Wonders Tour:
Chao Phraya Cruise Itinerary
A cruise lasts usually between2 and 3.5 hours. The boat will slowly drift along the Chao Phraya River, giving you all the time to admire the outside scenery and take some stunning pictures.
What You Can Expect
A private car or van will pick you up at your hotel to bring you directly to the pier, where the boat will wait for you. The staff will welcome you with a fresh cocktail and, at nighttime, the boat will start the tour.
You will enjoy a romantic dinner, surrounded by some of the most famous attractions in Bangkok, wrapped in the special evening atmosphere.
Starting from Pier 1, you will travel northward, passing by the Grand Palace, Wat Arun, Bang Khunprom Palace, Wat PhraKaew, and many other attractions – all of them lit in a fascinating way, perfect to snap some amazing pictures!
At the end of the tour a driver will drive you back to your hotel.
Entertainment and Fun
The atmosphere on the boat is relaxed, fun, and casual. For the whole cruise, you will be delighted by some exceptional live music that will provide the perfect background to the scenery in front of you. Other entertainers will perform as well, with short, fun shows.
Facilities and Service
As said, most cruises offer pick up and drop off service, so you won’t have to worry about finding the boat or being late.
Some cruises include a candlelight buffet dinner with Thai and International dishes, while other offer a bigger buffet, always including Thai and International food. You can sit inside the dining room or outside for a better view.
Tips for Taking a River Cruise
There are many different agencies operating on the river, so it is important to choose the right one.
Before buying your ticket, the most important thing you have to check is what is included.Pick up, drop-off and dinner should always be included in the ticket price. Double checking this will avoid lots of problems and unexpected expenses.
Check also the duration (not less than 2 hours) and the itinerary, to be sure you will pass by all the major attractions. Unfortunately, some boats don’t have access for wheelchairs; so, if you need it, be sure to ask beforehand.