Chao Phraya River

Sights Type / Natural Landmarks
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Location

Bangkok, Thailand

Address

Bangkok, Thailand

More information

https://web.facebook.com/pg/Chao-Phraya-River, https://foursquare.com/v/chao-phraya-river/, https://web.facebook.com/pg/BangkokRiver/

Prices

The Chao Phraya River tourist boat operates everyday from 09:30 – 16:00 hours, departing every 30 minutes from Sathorn.

Opening hours

A day river pass for 150 baht for adults and 80 baht for children below 100 cm in height allows unlimited trips for the day. This excludes admissions fees to the various places visited. These changes take effect from August 2011.

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Chaophraya River was the origin of Thai civilization that passed down a long lasting history well known to all until today. The Chao Phraya River (Mae Nam Chao Phraya) has always played a significant role within the city it flows through and remains the lifeblood of Bangkok to this very day, with passenger ferries, long-tail boats and slow barges laden with cargo making their way along the river daily. Most of the city’s main attractions are easily accessible from various points along its winding waterways, meaning visitors can also find great views from the water.

Escaping the traffic-clogged streets of Bangkok, a boat trip along the river reveals a mixture of skyscrapers, ancient temples and modern hotels set along the banks, providing a fresh perspective of the city, its residents and its key landmarks. Travelers will also witness just how important the river area is for locals, with wooden shacks jutting out over the water, kids splashing around and food vendors serving noodle soup to passing workers. This blend of the modern and the traditional is just one of the factors that makes the Chao Phraya River so charming and unique to Bangkok.

There are numerous ways to experience the river, with many boat tour options that take in Bangkok’s most important temples. Visitors can board a rice barge and learn about local life around the river, or hop aboard a motorized vessel to take in more of the major city sights. Travelers can also stay firmly on dry land and still see the river on a loop around the area via tuk tuk or bicycle tour. One of the most popular ways to experience the Chao Phraya River is on a nighttime dinner cruise, where you can listen to a live band while feasting on traditional Thai dishes and watching the twinkling lights of Bangkok’s skyline pass you by.

The Chao Phraya River meanders its way right through the heart of Bangkok and adds to the charm and appeal of this bustling metropolis. Getting out on the water offers a break from the crowds and the heat, making a trip along the river a popular thing to do in Bangkok. River ferries dart back and forth between hotels and landmarks so even if you just take a quick trip from one side to the other it’s a nice experience. The best way to see this Bangkok attraction though is on a river cruise or by renting a boat and travelling at your own speeds. Longboats can be rented from a couple of different piers and the price includes a driver so you don’t have to worry about finding your way around. Ask him to take you to the canals as this is a wonderful thing to do in Bangkok that many visitors to the city don’t get to see.There are guided river cruises as well if you want to learn all about the river while cruising on it. Dinner cruises are the perfect end to a day and allow you to see the city from a different perspective as the sun goes down and the temples and palaces are lit up.

The Chao Phraya River splits Bangkok vertically into two areas and serves as popular way to navigate the city. There are various ferries and tourist boats serving different parts of the river, but understanding their schedules and routes can become confusing. To save time, book a tour in advance to ensure you don’t miss anything on your list.

Chao Phraya River History

“Chao Phraya” translates as the “River of Kings”. Originating in northern Thailand from the Ping, Wang, Yom and Nan rivers. The Ping and Wang joins just below the Bhumibol Dam to form the Ping River. The Yom and Nan join approximately 29 kilometres north of Nakhon Sawan to form the Nan River. The joining of the Ping and Nan rivers at Nakhon Sawan in central Thailand is where the Chao Phraya River begins. It then flows from north to south for approximately 370 kilometres from the central plains to Bangkok, before flowing into the Gulf of Thailand. In Chainat, the river splits into the main river and the Tha Chin River, which flows parallel to the main river until they both enter the Gulf of Siam 35 kilometres west of Bangkok in Samut Sakhon.

Like all urban rivers, the history of the Chao Phraya is intertwined with the city it flows through. The original site was chosen by early settlers because of its fertility and abundant fish. Later King Taksin, after the fall of Ayutthaya to the Burmese, located his new capital here, on the western banks today known as Thonburi. 

In 1782 King Rama I, finding the eastern banks more favourable, founded modern Bangkok and celebrated the occasion by building some of the world's most beguiling temples. Later still the canals it feeds became famous, earning Bangkok its 'Venice of the East' epithet. And, meanwhile, eminent Western authors like Maugham, Conrad and Coward were singling out the Chao Phraya as one of their favourite spots in the Far East. 

Bangkok’s river has always been and will always be the bloodline of Bangkokians. For hundreds of years, it has provided all that is required for locals to live and driven the original settlement to prosper into present day Bangkok.

Aptly named Mae Nam Chao Phraya, the river is the original nurturer of Bangkokians. In Thai, Mae Nam is a generic term for river with Mae signifying mother and Nam water. The Thai royal and noble title Chao Phraya may be translated as Grand Duke. The two terms together truly reflects the reverence Thais have for this river.

Bangkok traces its origins back to the 15th century when it began as a small village under the rule of the original capital of Siam, Ayutthaya. Early settlers chose the original site because of the land’s fertility and the water’s abundance of fish. Due to its strategic location near the river’s mouth, the settlement soon grew in size and importance by serving as a customs outpost.

In 1767 following the fall of Ayutthaya to the Burmese, King Taksin relocated the country’s capital to Bangkok on the western banks of the river in the area now known as Thonburi. In 1782 King Rama I, finding the eastern banks more favorable, founded modern Bangkok and celebrated the occasion by building some of the world’s most beguiling structures and landmarks such as the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew.

Canals or khlongs, natural or manmade, began to innervate the city and contributed significantly to the cityscape and the inhabitants’ lifestyle. Bangkok soon earned the epithet ‘Venice of the East’. Bangkokians then traveled by its waterways and often met on floating markets – a truly unique way of life. Eminent Western authors such as Somerset Maugham, Joseph Conrad and Noel Coward later singled out the Chao Phraya as one of their favorite spots in the Far East.

Like all thriving urban centers of the world, Bangkok has transformed much since its birth. The city has expanded far beyond the river’s banks. However, locals still live, work, and play along the Chao Phraya. More than 50,000 people still use its ferries every day. Slow barges bearing cargo move inexorably upstream. Children still frolic in the russet-brown water and wooden shacks, mottled by the elements, lurch often precariously at the water’s edge.

The banks’ landscape and way of life has also grown vertically. Soaring hotels and condominiums hem in solemn temples, churches and civic buildings that look 19th century European while yards away a wooden sampan sells noodle soup or dried squid to hungry river workers. It is this juxtaposition of calm and chaos, modern and traditional, religious and secular, ugly and sublime, foreign and indigenous that makes the Chao Phraya so evocative.

Like all urban rivers, the fate of the Chao Phraya is intertwined with the city through which it flows. Truly, the River of Kings – as King Rama I nicknamed it – is what made Bangkokians who they are today.

Thai history can be traced along the banks of the Chao Phraya River and today it remains the most important waterway for the people of central Thailand. The river is an important transport link for the export of teak and rice to Bangkok. Locals have made the banks their home since ancient times and created their livelihoods from its environment. This great river has provided vital communication, led to the birth of civilization, and is regarded as the bloodline of Thai people. Today, locals living along the Chao Phraya River banks maintain an authentic lifestyle. The river also plays an important role in Thailand’s vibrant festivals, such as Loy Krathong held every November which gives thanks to the god of water, and the famous Thai New Year, Songkran festival.

‘The River of Kings’ 

Truly, the River of Kings - as King Rama I named it - is the lifeblood of Bangkok. And not just because of this rich history. Around 50,000 people still use its ferries to get to each day. Slow barges bearing cargo coast upstream. Kids still frolic in the russet-brown water. Wooden shacks, mottled by the elements, still lurch over the water. 

Soaring hotels and condominiums hem in solemn temples, churches and civic buildings that look 19th century European, while yards away the odd wooden sampan sells noodle soup or dried squid to hungry river workers. It is this juxtaposition of calm and chaotic, modern and traditional, religious and secular, ugly and sublime, foreign and indigenous that makes the Chao Phraya so evocative. 

River Boats and Ferries 

Five public boat lines, all operated by the Chao Phraya Express Boat company, ply the same 21km route: 'local line', 'orange', 'yellow', 'blue' and 'green-yellow'. Operating between 06:00 and 19:30 daily, each is identifiable by the coloured flag hanging off its rear. 

The rush-hour only 'local line' stops at all 34 piers, while the other four are express lines stopping at only selected piers. Only the Orange Flag Line, with its flat fee of 15 baht, runs all day and on weekends – for most journeys this fits the bill. The others stop at around 09:00 and begin again at around 16:00. Cross-river ferries operate at most major piers and will drop you to the other bank for 3.5 baht

'Tourist Boats' are another option, offering unlimited trips to nine prominent piers for a 150 baht flat fee (service hours: 09.30 - 15.00 daily). Not a bad deal if you plan to do a lot of hopping on and off over one day, want more comfort and the sites to be pointed out to you. Bear in mind though – these run every 30 minutes while the public lines used by locals typically run every 15 to 20 minutes. Other options for exploring the river include hiring a long-tail boat (usually includes trips down the city's canals), a river cruise or dinner cruise. All give a different perspective on this fascinating river. 

Chao Phraya River 

Phra Arthit Road runs parallel to the Chao Phraya River, stretching from Phra Sumen fort to Thammasat Universty. Lined with quaint shop-houses, cosy hole-in-the-wall restaurants, bars and cafés with live music, this is where the artsy type convene after sundown before hitting nearby Khao San Road. The nearest river pier is Phra Arthit Pier. 

Thewet is scintillating. People come here to make merit by releasing fish or to feed the school of frenzied catfish scraps of bread. There's also a ramshackle yet photogenic wet market, and the Royal enclave of Dusit nearby. The nearest river pier is Thewet. 

Oriental, the old Westerner Quarter with crumbling European architecture, antiques shops and the venerable Mandarin Oriental Hotel, where some of the 20th century's most eminent scribes once stayed. The nearest river pier is Oriental. 

Pak Khlong Flower Market, a living breathing oriental market teeming with life and colour, is one of the most pleasant places to spend an early morning. Find fresh flowers of all species, fruits and vegetables at wholesale price. The nearest river pier is Rajinee.

Express Boat Services

The main express boat (reua duan) passenger services in Bangkok are operated by the Chao Phraya Express Boat company. They have a number of different types of boats which are differentiated by the colour of the flags they fly. They also run a very useful tourist boat service which is ideal for first time visitors to Bangkok and gives you a chance to acquaint yourself with the river stops before trying out the other local boat services. Tickets for the tourist boat can be purchased at the Central Pier or Phra Arthit Pier (Banglamphu) N13. They can also be bought at Saphan Taksin and Siam (interchange) Skytrain stations. Tickets for the other river passenger services can be purchased on the boat itself.

When you get on the boat, move towards the front. The rear of the boat is where people stand to indicate they want to get off at the next stop. Please note the boat will only stop at the pier if there are passengers who want to get on or off so be ready to stand up and get to the back of the boat as your stop approaches. Please also note that not all services stop at every pier (check the route map on the right). It’s also a good idea to keep some small change handy to pay for your ticket and if you have the exact fare ready it helps the boat conductor.

Chao Phraya Tourist Boat

The tourist boat service is more expensive than the other boats, but it is less crowded so you should have no problems getting a seat and there is also an on-board commentary in English to point out landmarks and points of interest. A one-day unlimited ticket is available for 150 Baht and includes a handy map of the river and the various boat stops. Tickets for the tourist boat service can be bought at Central Pier (Tha Sathorn), pier N13 (Tha Phra Arthit/Banglamphu) or the skytrain stations at Saphan Taksin or Siam.

Fare: 150 Baht for unlimited day use or 30 Baht for single journey
Hours: Daily 09.30-16.00
Frequency: approximately every 30 minutes
Route: Sathorn Pier (Central) – Phra Arthit Pier (N13)

Orange flag boats

Fare: 15 Baht (pay on boat)
Hours: Daily 06.00-19.00
Frequency: approximately every 15 minutes
Route: Nonthaburi (N30) – Wat Rajsingkorn (S3)

Local or Standard boats (no flag)

Fare: 10/12/14 Baht (pay on boat – charged according to distance of travel)
Hours: Monday-Friday 06.20-08.05 and 15.00-17.30
Frequency: approximately every 20 minutes.
Route: Nonthaburi (N30) – Wat Rajsingkorn (S3)

Green flag boats

Fare: 13/20/32 Baht (pay on boat – charged according to distance of travel)
Hours: Monday-Friday 06.15-08.10 and 15.30-18.05
Frequency: approximately every 15-20 minutes
Route: Pakkred (N33) – Nonthaburi (N30) – Sathorn (Central Pier)

Yellow flag boats

Fare: 20/29 Baht (pay on boat – charged according to distance of travel)
Hours: Monday-Friday 06.15-08.30 and 15.30-20.00
Frequency: approximately every 30 minutes
Route: Nonthaburi (N30) – Sathorn (Central Pier) – Ratburana (S4)

Hotel shuttle boats

These boats shuttle across the river between the major riverside hotels including The Oriental, The Peninsula and the Bangkok Marriott & Spa. Most boats run to and from the Central Pier (Tha Sathorn).
Fare: Free
Hours: continuous

Cross river ferries

These small ferries are available at most piers for crossings to the opposite river bank. There is limited seating on these boats so expect to stand for the short journey across the river.

Fare: varies from 2-4 Baht (usually paid at entrance to pier before boarding the boat)

Chao Phraya Piers Guide

This printable guide has been designed to highlight the most interesting piers found along the 21km Chao Phraya River Express Boat route. Temples, a wet market or an unexpected enclave... if it's something worth seeing then it's here. Once you've decided which piers you want to visit, use the quick links below to familiarise yourself with the different ferry lines, namely their routes, schedules and fares. Then set off on your custom-made - and dirt cheap - adventure on the River of Kings. 

A quick tip: of the five lines that ply the water the Orange Flag is your best bet - it operates all day. After the morning rush-hour, boats come every 20 minutes until around 16:00 when other lines kick into action and boats appear more frequently. If completely confused by the melee, another more comfortable option is a 'Tourist Boat', though these only come every 30 minutes. 

Operating Hours: 06:00 - 19:30 
Price: Typically between 10 to 15 baht, though long journeys at peak hours can reach 30 baht (fares paid onboard). 

The Chao Phraya River tourist boat takes visitors on a cruise circuit of eight piers for a sightseeing tour of the historical sites in old Bangkok along the Chao Phraya River.

Here are the piers you’ll be visiting, what you can expect to see along the way and the historical significance of these places. 

  • Sathorn - start
  • N1 Oriental
  • N 3 Si Phraya
  • N 5 Ratchawongse
  • N 8 Tien
  • Maharaj
  • N 10 Wang Lang (Siriraj)
  • N 13 Phra Arthit (Banglampu) - end

Please note that the Chao Phraya River tourist boat doesn't stop at N 6 Memorial Bridge pier (Saphan Phut pier) anymore. 

Start your tour from the Sathorn just below the Bangkok skytrain station at Taksin Bridge. The pier and the road leading up to it, was named after Luang Sathon Rachayutt, a title awarded to a Chinese immigrant who built Sathorn Road and Sathorn canal in 1892.

The impact of this road and the canal on the area is recorded in hotels in Sathorn.

North Route (North of Sathorn) 

Sathorn (Central Pier)

Reasons to come: 

  • Saphan Taksin Skytrain (BTS) Station 
  • Silom Road 
  • Sathorn Road 
  • Eminent Riverside Hotels, including Shangri-La Bangkok and lebua at State Tower 
  • Shuttle boats to hotels like The Peninsula Bangkok, Millennium Hilton Bangkok, Menam Riverside Hotel, Mandarin Oriental Hotel Bangkok and Bangkok Marriott Resort & Spa. 
  • Shuttle boat to Bangkok Night Festival Market named Asiatique the Riverfront 

Lines: tourist, local, orange, yellow, green-yellow, blue 

Oriental (N1) 

N 1 Oriental is near the Oriental Hotel which had its origins in 1865 and made famous by writers like Joseph Conrad, Somerset Maugham, John Le Carre, James Michener and Ian Fleming.

After the Oriental Hotel, the Chao Phraya River tourist boat takes you past three very old buildings on the Bangkok bank of the Chao Phraya River which is on your right as you are going upriver.

The Holy Rosary Church near Chinatown was built by the Portuguese in 1786 from a land grant by King Rama I. 

In 1906, Siam Commercial Bank the first Thai bank was established. This building, the Talad Noi branch, was designed by Italian architect Annibale Rigotti. 

The Portuguese were the first Europeans in Thailand way back in the 16th century. Their embassy, the oldest in Bangkok, is just by the Chao Phraya River before the Si Phraya pier.

Reasons to come: 

  • the colonial atmospheres and period architecture of the old Western quarter 
  • the venerable Mandarin Oriental Hotel Bangkok, the perfect place for literary nostalgia and afternoon tea on the Author's Lounge 
  • OP Place, an upmarket antiques arcade housed in a white period building 
  • French Embassy

Lines: tourist, local, orange 

Si Phaya (N3) 

Four Phrayas or Four Noblemen was a name given by King Rama V to the road leading up to the next pier, N 3 Si Phraya. Phraya is a noble title just below Chao Phraya. Charoen Krung Road the oldest road in Bangkok built in 1861, is a short walk from the pier.

Reasons to come: 

  • River City, a modern shopping complex selling pricey antiques 
  • Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers 
  • Bustling Charoen Krung Road 
  • Bangkok Folk Museum 

Lines: tourist, local, orange, yellow, green-yellow 

Rachawongs (N5) 

At N 5 Ratchawongse you can get to Yaowarat, Chinatown Bangkok started in 1782 when King Rama I established the capital in Bangkok. The Chinese community, who were living in what is now the site of the Grand Palace, was granted land here and started Yaowarat. 

The Chao Phraya River tourist boat used to stop at the N 6 Memorial Bridge Pier or Phra Buddha Yodfa, the official name in Thai which is also the formal title of King Rama I. The locals call the pier Saphan Phut and it’s located near the Memorial Bridge, the first bridge over the Chao Phraya River built in 1932. The other Chao Phraya bridge next to it is the Phra Pok Klao Bridge. 

It’s a pity it doesn’t stop here anymore because there are a number of local attractions here; 

If you wish to visit these places by boat, you'll have to take the non-express boat (no flag) or the express boat (orange flag). Please see Chao Phraya River river boats for these boat services. 

From here on, focus your attention on the Thonburi bank of the Chao Phraya River, on your left as you are going upriver. This is Thonburi, the previous capital before Bangkok, with King Taksin as the only king in that era.

The dome of the Santa Cruz Church rises above the roofs of the old river communities. This old church was built by the Portuguese in 1770 during the reign of King Taksin. 

Beside the Santa Cruz Church is Wat Kanlayanamit, a relatively new temple built in the reign of King Rama III (1824 – 1851). 

Next the white walls of Fort Vichai Prasit, an old Ayutthaya fort built in 1688, come into view. King Taksin’s palace was within this complex. The entire area is now part of the Royal Thai Navy HQ. 

From here on you’ll encounter two very old temples from the Ayutthaya days. First there’s Wat Arun the famous Temple of Dawn built in the reign of King Narai in the mid 17th century. 

This is followed by Wat Rakhang another old Ayutthaya temple. Wat Rakhang is not well known to foreign visitors but extremely popular with the Thais. Wat Arun and Wat Rakhang are among the nine temples that Thais visit to make merit on auspicious occasions. Wat Rakhang (bell) got it’s name from an ancient bell unearthed during construction.

Reasons to come: 

  • Chinatown, one of the city's most evocative and historic enclaves (walk up Ratchawong Road) 
  • Offbeat shopping: used amulets, Canto pop cassettes, Guan Yin statues, gold, Chinese medical herbs, birds nest soup etc 
  • Sampeng Lane, a charismatic alley lined with cheap clothes, food and household items (walk up Ratchawong Road) 
  • Wat Mangkon Kamalawat, a Chinese temple with Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian shrines 

Lines: tourist, local, orange, yellow, green-yellow  

Memorial Bridge/Saphan Phut (N6) 

Reasons to come: 

  • Saphan Phut Night Market 
  • King Rama I Monument 
  • Pak Khlong Talad, Bangkok's biggest 24-hour flower/fruit market (turn left out of pier, walk for 10 minutes)Sampeng Lane, a narrow old alley lined with cheap clothes, food and household items 
  • Pahurat Road/Little India, the Indian enclave famed for its Hindu iconography and fabrics 

Lines: tourist, local, orange  

Rajinee (N7) 

Reasons to come: 

  • Wat Pho or Temple of the Reclining Buddha 
  • Pak Khlong Talad, Bangkok’s biggest 24-hour flower/fruit market 
  • Wonderfully shabby and dilapidated old architecture 
  • Museum of Siam, interactive museum on the history of Thailand  
  • Santa Cruz Church, old Portugese Catholic church (cross river ferry required) 
  • Cafes and bars overlooking Wat Arun 

Lines: local 

Tha Tien (N8) 

The Chao Phraya River tourist boat will then berth at N 8 Tien which leads to Wat Pho the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, an old Ayutthaya temple. This temple and Wat Mahathat further upriver flank the Grand Palace.

Reasons to come: 

  • Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha) 
  • cross-river ferry to Wat Arun, the Temple of Dawn 
  • dried seafood market found along a parade of King Rama V-era shophouses  
  • restaurants and bars overlooking Wat Arun 

Lines: tourist, local, orange  

Tha Chang (N9) 

Reasons to come: 

  • a leafy old enclave brimming with atmosphere and King Rama V-era shophouses 
  • Maharaj Road's pavement market selling everything from used Buddhist amulets and phallic charms to old religious texts and false teeth 
  • the city's most venerable temples (Wat Phra Kaew, Wat Mahathat) 
  • the iconic Grand Palace 
  • National Museum 
  • Sanam Luang, the old, oval-shaped Royal park authentic local food at the pedestrianised market in front of the pier  

Lines: local, orange  

Maharaj Pier 

From Maharaj Pier, a tourist pier, you can visit Wat Mahathat, another Ayutthaya temple, the Grand Palace and Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the old city, Rattanakosin.

Reasons to come: 

  • The iconic Grand Palace 
  • City's most venerable temples, including Wat Phra Kaew and Wat Mahathat 
  • National Museum, Sanam Luang, the old, oval-shaped Royal park 

Lines: tourist 

Wang Lang (N10) 

N 10 Wang Lang (Siriraj) is on the Thonburi bank near the Siriraj Hospital, the first public hospital built in 1888 by King Rama V. The hospital was named after one of his sons who died at a very young age. The Siriraj Medical Museums are located within the hospital.

Reasons to come:

  • a women's clothing market selling cheap shoes, bags, dress, T-shirts and accessories (popular with teenagers) 
  • Patravadi Theatre, a riverside playhouse staging traditional/modern performing arts 
  • Wat Rakhang Khositaram, and ancient Ayutthaya temple with five bells inside 
  • Siriraj Hospital 

Lines: tourist, local, orange, yellow, green-yellow, blue 

Phra Pin Klao Bridge (N12) 

Reasons to come: 

  • Southern Bus Terminal 
  • The Royal Barges Museum  

Lines: local, orange, yellow, green-yellow 

Phra Arthit (N13) 

At N 13 Phra Arthit (Banglampu) the Chao Phraya River tourist boat turns around in the circuit. You can get off here and walk around Fort Phra Sumen nearby, an old Bangkok fort built in 1783 in the reign of King Rama I, one of the two remaining forts of that era.

Reasons to come: 

  • Phra Athit Road's tree-shaded atmosphere, hip shophouse boutiques and cafes 
  • nearby backpacker ghetto Khao San Road (10-minute walk) 
  • Banglamphu clothing market 
  • Wat Chana Songkram National Art Gallery 
  • early 20th Century architecture style made popular by King Rama V 
  • vintage postcards and kooky one-off blouses 
  • superb Indian food at Roti Mataba, a tiny box of a restaurant 
  • bohemian coffee shops like Coffee & More, Joy Luck Club or On Art 
  • chilled out Santiphap Park 
  • the Phra Sumen fort 

Lines: tourist, local, orange 

King Rama VIII Bridge (N14) 

Reasons to come: 

  • to visit Bank of Thailand Museum 
  • to see up close the King Rama VIII bridge 
  • for Samsen Road – home to guesthouses and a few decent live music bars 
  • to dine at Kin Lom Chom Saphan, a relaxed open-air restaurant overlooking the river (Samsen Soi 3) 

Lines: local line 

Thewet (N15) 

Reasons to come: 

  • to make merit by releasing fish into the river 
  • to witness the feeding frenzy as people feed catfish beneath the pier 
  • to dine at an old wooden restaurant overlooking the river 
  • to visit the lively wet market beside the canal (walk 100 metres, turn left over footbridge) 
  • to get to the nearby Royal district of Dusit (Wat Benchamabophit, Dusit Zoo, Vimanmek Mansion, Ananta Samakhom Throne Hall).  

Lines: local, orange, yellow, green-yellow 

Nonthaburi (N30) 

Reasons to come: 

  • Nonthaburi, a charming provincial town with old fashioned clock tower, cyclos (bicycle taxis), a clothing market and early 20th Century European-style civic buildings 
  • Koh Kret, the nearby Mon tribe island and daytripper favourite 

Lines: local, orange, yellow, green-yellow, blue  

Kiak Kai (N21) 

Reasons to come: 

  • interesting temple 
  • short taxi ride from Soi Ari, a hip road popular with the city's arty urban youth 
  • Krung Thon Bridge  
  • River Side Bangkok Hotel 

Lines: local, orange 

South Route (South of Sathorn) 

Wat Worachanyawas (S2) and Wat Rajsingkorn (S3) 

Reasons to come: 

  • low-key temple complexes serving local communities 

Lines: local, orange 

The Chao Phraya River tourist boat operates everyday from 09:30 – 16:00 hours, departing every 30 minutes from Sathorn.

A day river pass for 150 baht for adults and 80 baht for children below 100 cm in height allows unlimited trips for the day. This excludes admissions fees to the various places visited. These changes take effect from August 2011.

You can also choose to buy single trip tickets from the Sathorn Pier to any of the other designated piers.

If you have problems with the names, just use the alpha-numeric codes for the piers.

Tickets are sold at Sathorn, Maharaj, Phra Arthit piers and the BTS (Bangkok Transit System) Tourist Information Centers at Siam, Nana and Taksin Bridge BTS Stations.

You'll be given a leaflet showing the Chao Phraya River tourist boat schedule. Please take note of these timings if you don't want to miss the last boat.

However if you do, all's not lost. There are still take the regular Chao Phraya River boat available every 20 minutes till 1840 hours. Don't miss this one. Enjoy your Chao Phraya river cruise.

Reviews by visitors

The Chao Phraya River is a main River, big, long and important in Thailand, located between Bangkok Noi side and Bangkok side. The best way to experience thai's culture, the beautiful views of the city, a lot of temple beside the River

~narisa

We took a river and canal cruise from Tha Chang Pier. We paid 500 baht each which is around $15 for a 1 hour private tour. 
For $5 more the will drop you at the Temple of Dawn for 30 minutes. 
We ran up and down the river and around the canals which are lined with everything from factories to tiny shacks to mansions to temples. It is a fascinating ride that will give you insight into a different culture than what you can get from the street. They provide you with a bottle of water for the trip.

~janet

This imposing waterway of Thailand is always bustling with activity...from goods laden barges to tourist boats, from fast motor boats to regular ferry services, it is a lively river and me and my family enjoyed excellent views of it from our room at the Chatrium Hotel riverside....

~mark

One way to enjoy this river is by taking a dinner cruise. A number are offered, but we were fortunate to cruise the river on a renovated rice barge, dinner offers a wide variety with great views of the city by night. Highly recommended

~sandy

You need to take at least one boat ride on the Chao Phraya River to see a different view of the Bangkok City. Access the boat pier from many station along the river; some piers are also at the Skytrain stop, so it's very easy. It's also convenient to take the boat on the River to visit sites such as Wat Arun or Wat Pho.

~truong

This is the real heart of Bangkok along which many iconic temples and other buildings are located. The river boat service (either normal or "tourist") is the best way to see these wonderful riverside sights. If you choose the normal local river boat please move inside as directed by the boat's crew. I noted that a couple of annoying farang tourists did the "don't you tell me what to do" carry on when the conductor was simply trying to keep the access way on the boat clear.

~andrei

We walk most of our time in Bangkok, although it was hot and humid but walking is the best thing to do. There are so many things to see around, but we've seen Bangkok a few times already. We just strolled around and walk on to the river side

Chao Phraya River is a major thoroughfare for the people of Thailand. This is one of the largest and most important rivers in the country. A lot of major attractions such as the Wat Arun, Wat Pho and so on are also built on the banks of this river.

A boat trip on Chao Phraya river is a MUST we have done it already, if you haven't done it yet is certainly a worth to try. For 14 baht one way you can do sightseeing along the river. Travel on the river is a great way to see more of Bangkok. The entire area on both sides of the river is magnificent

~melanie

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!

~julie

We decided to have a day exploring the different stops along the Sky Train so bought a day pass and off we went. We got on and off as we wanted and we even had a Thai lady tell us we were going the wrong way as this was not a tourist area. Anyway after lots of fun on the trains we went back to the river and decided to go north to the last boat stop which is Nonthaburi another province of Thailand but classed as a suburb of Bangkok due to being so close. 

We used the tourist boats to the end of the line which is Pier 13 (Navalai River Resort) where everyone gets off including us then we used the express boats to carry on to Pier 30 the end of the trip at Nonthaburi. 

What fun this is, I though express meant missing a few stops, but no this boat still stops for about one second, people just jump on and off so quickly, absolutely no waiting for anyone even is your 2 seconds from getting on the boat. 

Nonthaburi was fantastic; everyone was very friendly and happy to talk to us as we walked along Pratcharat Rd which is the main road for a few minutes to the Central markets which will be on your right. These authentic Thai markets are amazing, packed with everything you could possibly think of with stall after stall of fruit, vegetables, fish, flowers, spices etc along with some delicious food stalls.

After a good look around here and something to eat we caught an old style bicycle rickshaw back to the pier for another 30 stops/pier stations to our starting point. 

We will definitely go back to Nonthaburi and have a better look around as there is so much to see and do in the area. Eventually we ended up at Khao San Road, hated it there, so back to the hotel after another huge fun filled day

~miley

Using the river boat system on the Chao Phraya is a must! It is affordable and convenient with access to the many tourist attractions. Most people start from the Central Pier (Saphan Taksin is the stop from the Sky Train). But once at the Central Pier, things can be very confusing. 

First, do not buy a ticket from anyone that approaches you. They will try and sell a ticket at an inflated cost and push a private long boat for about 500 baht.

You have two options, there is a tourist boat and all day pass for 150 baht or 40 baht for one way trip. Or, do what the locals do and just pay the local transport boat which is only 15 baht. The tourist boat does have an English speaking tour guide that explains what is at each pier they stop. This is good if you have not done much research. I did the tourist one way route for 40 baht and did learn a good amount of what is at each stop. The remaining days I just paid the 15 baht and explored on my own.

The key here is not to buy a ticket from anyone that approaches you. In the photos you can see people in the light blue polo shirts. They work for the tourist boat. a line forms behind this area for the local boat that cost 15 baht. If you've done your research this is the best way to go. All the piers are well marked so you know where you are.

~timberly

Not an exceptional river front, but has been developed and maintained very well for the many river cruises that are hosted on the river every day. Very scenic skyline all along the river and makes for a lovely dinner cruise from the bay. If you have an evening to spare, the dinner cruise is a good way to explore and enjoy the river.

~tushar

Taking any of the regular bus-boats is a great and inexpensive way to see the main sights - and it's the nicest way to commute if you need to get anywhere reasonably close to the river. No traffic jams, no pestilential fumes, no rip-offs, nice breeze, great views... and it gives a sense of what life used to be in this erstwhile Venice of the east.

~rosanane

Fortunately we stay in a hotel which did provide shuttle boat for us for transpoting guests to near by pier. We got the chance to enjoy the Mekong Chao Phraya River at the same time. The river was really big but not crystal clear water. It was busy with all source of boats or vessels sailing up and down. Different kinds of boats seeing most of the time. We also enjoy certain moden and old structures along the river. Great experience!

~eddie

If you visit Bangkok you will surely find yourself using the River at some stage. It is filled with boat taxis, hotel sponsored ferries and long boats, and provides the perfect medium to hop between major sights. The road traffic in Bangkok is horrible (although you should experience a Tuk Tuk trip between a couple sights) but the river provides an uncongested water way. You get to see plenty of the city from the river and there are plenty of piers to hop on/off at.

~mark

The river itself is interesting but if you can find a way to take one of the long boat trips up the canals. The standard larger tour boats don't really take you up any of the smaller canals. The last time I was in Bangkok, I got a tour up some of the tinier canals and to one of the local markets where the express boats can't get to. Worth the trouble and really great if you can get a long boatman who speaks English.

~john

Taking the ferry/boat ride on the Chao Phraya River is an excellent alternative to beat the notorious traffic jam in Bangkok. It is also very cheap mode of transport which cost only 14 bahts for the whole length of the orange flag boat service. 

It is also one of the better way to enjoy the views of the city and experience cruising down the Chao Phraya River. 

The many stops at the various piers provide much convenience to tourists and locals alike on an alternative mode of daily transportation and to the various tourist attractions. 

I would also like to compliment the police officer at the Kiak Kai pier for being helpful in giving us clear information in taking the boat ride. 

Highly recommend to all tourists.

~rictan

14 bahts one way irrespective of the no. of stops. It is definitely the cheapest way to cruise along the river and also as a means of commuting to stay away from the hectic traffic jam in Bangkok. Nice & pleasant if you got a seat. Yet it can get terribly crowded and at one time while standing our pants got all wet from the waves caused by another boat passing by. If you are not in a rush, wait for the next boat for a seat. Then sit back, relax and enjoy!

~benjamin

Chao PhraYa is the major river of THailand. It could be said to be responsible for the existence of Bangkok as Siam became an important source of rice, and the small fifteenth century trading post became the natural consolidation and shipping hub.
Today visitors can enjoy a variety of river boat tours with views of temples and riverside baan type houses, and access to several floating markets.

~bill

You can use BTS Silom Line to reach the Chao Phraya River. Saphan Taksin station is very near the pier. When you reach there, you can either use tourist boats or ferry boats. You can also buy a day ticket (150 BHT) and use it like Hop on Hop off. There are many piers on the river that you can get of and discover the riverside. Many of the temples and Grand Palace are very close to the river. You should be on the river one day when you visit Bangkok, You will enjoy it.

~giray

This is the cheapest way to explore Bangkok combined with BTS. The Saphan Taksin BTS connects the Chao Phraya Express from the Sathorn Pier. There are 5 types of services - The Orange Flag Boat, Green Flag boat, Yellow Flag Boat ,No flag (Local Line) and the Tourist Boat (Blue Flag). Tourist Boat provides service to 8 piers where most of the attractions are located. One day pass for tourist boat cost 150 Baht and can be used for unlimited trips from 9:30 AM - 19:30 PM from any Pier. 
The Orange Flag boat is much more cheaper costing only 14 Baht per trip. Tickets can be purchased from the boat or the counter near the entrance. This takes you to all the Pier covered by the tourist boat. Wat Arun is the first major attraction on the way. from there you can take a ferry for 3.5 Baht which takes you across the river to the Tha Tien Pier ( Grand palace and Wat Pho is located at a walk able distance).

~amal

1,5 hours drive on a long tail boat on river, first impressions of Bangkok. Very expensive experience, compared to what else you get for the same money. 
High season pricing, I suppose. Could have negotiated better, 
One can find better experiences for the same money.

~leila

Hire a long-tail boat for an unforgettable tour of the Chao Phraya river along with a tour of the tributaries and inlets that encircle the western part of the city. when approached by the locals in smaller little bats that want to sell some trinkets remember to buy a beer or a soft drink for your boat captain. He will really appreciate it and won't mind stopping at a temple along the way to take some photos. Enjoy!

~aldo

Had a 2 day guided group tour of Bangkok and while OK for a group tour the best part was the river which was buzzing with strange looking boats. Its a good way to get to most of the must-see parts of Bangkok i.e. the Royal Barges and many of the temples. What I loved the most though was seeing the giant monitor lizards lounging on the walls of the river. The only draw back is watch your head when entering and leaving because it's easy to bump the low ceilings and sometimes we had to climb out the side of the boat instead so it helps to be agile.

~donald

We always stay at a hotel at the riverbank. There is always traffic up and down and across the river night and day. Take a 2 or 3 hours sailtour on the river and the klongs on a longtailboat and see how the people lives. This is more interesting than a boat trip in Venice. This is a must when you choose what to see in Bangkok.

~hansen

This was one of the coolest forms of transport we did in Bangkok. No traffic like the taxis, not as dangerous as the mopeds and tuk tuks. it was very relaxing on a sunny day. we enjoyed our cokes and did a tour down the river, meandering past restaurants, houses, temples etc. I would highly recommend using the boats to get where you need to go in Bangkok if possible. part of the city's unique history.

~mateo

Trying out the river taxi services along Chai Phraya river, this is fast and interestingly, we get to see many parts of Bangkok never before. Took a 45mins ride from one end to the floating garden. Ended at Oriental hotel for afternoon tea!! Trip uniquely different than just travelling around in tutu

~kim

After visiting the Golden Buddha temple,a tuk tuk driver ’’trapped’’ us and drove us to this restaurant,on third floor terrace over viewing the river you can see the boats go by.
We ordered two crab,2 beer,a coconut,and a fruit salad,total 4500 baht.
The crab was one of the best I have ever eaten but I found it far to expensive for Thai standards.So if you go there and you are not prepared to spend a lot,keep it simple....

~lee

It's cheap for a round along the river. It was fantastic to see scenic both sides of the river. The river is so big that you can feel so little when looking at it. I got beautiful sunset on the river during my trip. Also, It's good to stop and watch many fishes swimming and eating foods. There are foods sold on the Boat Stop which are made by local people.

~tue

Been on a 2 hour boat trip on the Chao Phraya river. Can not remenber what pier but it is in The Bangrak area near the Shangri-La Hotel

This was worth the money. We did not take a sundowner cruise but one during the day where you can see the famous landmarks along the riverbank, including the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Keo. We were informed by the tour guide of a couple of very interesting sites.

This is a trip that will interest young children, teens, adults, weather on a business tripe or on holiday

~helen

Opportunities to use boats going across, up or down the river. You can take either tourist boats or standard ferries which will take you up and down the river. They drop you of at strategic places from where you can visit many attractions. River cruises are an attraction but some can be money traps - being of short duration with...

~park

This time, i took the tourist boat from The Maharaj to Asiatique night market. I recommend to take this journey in the dusk time. (at around 5:00pm) Open your eyes and the sunset and great view is waiting for you. Princess Jasmine: "Unbelievable sights, Indescribable feelings, Soaring, tumbling, freewheeling"

~karmmy

I think this is interesting when I visited chao phraya river. My friends and I bought tickets to have dinner in the cruise. That's interesting experience for us. The foods are really tasty and there are many kinds of food. You can have dinner while enjoying the night view from the river. That's relaxing. After dinner, many people will singing and dancing. So much fun.

~putu

With piers all along the river, it is very easy access and easy to use. A single ticket costs 14 THB which is really nothing. The boats (different color lines) stop by every 5 minutes or so. 
There are stops at all the main temples, (Wat Arun, The Grand Palace/Wat Pho) and one at the hospital if you want to go to the Medical Museum. 
It is a great alternative to taxis, took-tuks and the BTS.

~frank

I know its a touristy thing but after a 24 hr flight its a relaxing and cool thing to do...the scenery is spectacular. Bangkok is becoming an important and lush destination. Evolving into a super city. Food is buffet style and there are vegetarian options. A must see ..

~barb

To be honest, there isnt much to see when you cruise thru the river, there are a couple of hotels on the banks of the river and Wat Arun (but Wat Arun) is under renovation so i didnt feel anything interesting. If you just want to kill an hour on the ride, you may take a boat ride and travel.

~joe

There are different rates and packages to buy so, study them for a few minutes and be sure to get what you want. We chose a one way on the river as we wanted to get on the Skytrain and then the train shuttle to the airport. What an exciting, vibrant River and so busy with commerce and a great way to visit the many sights in BKK, especially with the 1 price all day pass ticket.

~deacon

Surprisingly easy to travel along the river and at the same time get a different perspective on the giant city.However, you do not want to fall overboard, water projects have a long way to go.Planning clever and you have many of the sights in walking distance from the various piers

~phayao

Lovely riverside to visit in order to travel from one location to another. From Sathorn Pier you can go to Asiatique riverfront as well as Tha Thien Pier.. Lovely view to both sides of the river. Cold breeze journey to different locations and the scenic beauty. you can even go to china market,flower market etc...

~papai

Chao Phraya is the main water way in BKK. It is fun to see how the locals live. We have done numerous Klong boat tours and also road the Chao Phraya Express boat to the Wats along the river. Yes it is smelly and dirty but you got to love it. Love seeing the hustle and bustle of the water way. I do recommend a river tour.

~liza

When we were there in late Nov 2016, the country was still in mourning for their king. A lot of roads were closed around the major temples and the hotel suggested that we take the river ferries to get to the temples. It was great, there are mulltiple routes, we took the Orange route to visit the temples and Grand Palace. Great way to get around to some neat spots.

~cameron

Booked via our hotel the Avani Atrium with an efficient front desk concierge. The boat arrived on time and we boarded for the most amazing and picturesque cruise down the river whilst enjoying a sumptuous 5 course Thai cuisine in absolute leisure.
The service and Thai entertainment was superb.
Thoroughly enjoyed the captivaring evening. 

~sew

Having lived in this city for more than 15 years, taking a regular passenger service up or down this river is still the cheapest and most delightful way of getting to the very heart of what Bangkok is all about.

It still fills me with excitement and wonder after all these years and the value is impossible to beat at less than $1 a pop.

~jennifer

This is the ideal way to see some of