Taking a boat trip along the Chao Phraya is a must for anyone planning a stay in Bangkok.
I could put up a few photographs of the shoreline and end this post now, but I’m sorry to disappoint you, I won’t…I have to practice writing if I want to be a writer. Apparently, practice makes perfect, which would explain how I became highly skilled at cake eating. But I’m still not good enough to be a ‘writer’. Anyway enough of this nonsense, let’s have a serious post about Bangkok.
The Chao Phraya is the major river in Thailand, flowing through the country for 231 miles. In Bangkok, the river serves as an essential transportation artery for the seemingly hundreds of boats that travel up and down it. A network of river buses, ferries, and water taxies (also known as Longtail Boats) criss-cross the river, giving it a life of its own.
My Chao Phraya Boat Trip
Piers line the river just as tube stations connect London, but all ferries seem to stop at the dock nearest to me, Sathon Pier, so it’s the ideal place for any Chai Phraya boat trip to begin. Now, I could have taken a photograph of the pier, but you can’t expect me to be this charming and the ability to plan, can you? I was probably thinking about something else at the time.
I wasn’t hungry, so I wasn’t thinking about food, but I had bought some shares recently, which then proceeded to lose over 6% in value within two days of me buying them. I’m pretty good with things like that, so if you want any money advice, I am free for a small fee of 45% of all your future earnings. While you mull over this fantastic offer, let’s crack on with this post, shall we?
To get this post off and running here is the first picture I took as the ferry rocked its way onto the river.
The hotel is known as The Shangri-La and rose into the Bangkok skyline in 1986. It looks rather posh and a little out of my price range…yes, despite the fact I own stocks that plummet in my spare time, I’m actually quite careful with money.
Views From The Boat
The riverside along the Chao Phraya is a mixture of the old and new with derelict government buildings sitting alongside shiny new hotels. It’s not unusual to also see houses that look likely to fall into the river after an unusually powerful sneeze…
I wouldn’t describe myself as an expert on city rivers, but in my limited experience of them, I’d say the Chao Phraya is one of the most used. River taxi’s, tail boats and ferries criss-cross along the river carrying Thai families and tourists up and down to over 20 piers that cover an area not much more than two or three miles. (This doesn’t include the docks along the miles of canals that split off from the river…I doubt if that figure is known as the final figure will surely be in the hundred’s).
I think now is a good time to say…’ just look at those clouds!!!’ (yes, three exclamation marks!) I don’t know if it’s the time of year here or if it’s just been a coincidence recently, but the clouds here in Bangkok have been stunning! So many swirls and patterns fill the sky as far as the eye can see. Sometimes they don’t look real, as if a painter has frozen time and to give everything a once over.
Buildings Along The Chao Phraya
As I mentioned a moment ago, you will see so many different buildings along the Chao Phraya. Buildings from a different time and styles. Old temples and modern skyscrapers, as well as buildings from a period when Bangkok was first beginning to welcome western traders to it’s riverbank. One such building is the Old Customs House.
Built in 1888 by an Italian architect, it’s a prime example of Thailand’s (then called Siam) modernisation during King Rama V’s reign. Every item of cargo arriving in Bangkok until 1949 came through this building. It now sadly seems to be abandoned with it’s best days long behind it.
One building that has stood the test of time is the Holy Rosary Church.
Built by the Portuguese in 1897 it stands as a sign of Bangkoks religious diversity. Portugal was one of the first western countries to form ties with Thailand and the entire area around this church was home to a settlement of around three thousand Portuguese. (P.S. LOOK AT THE SKY!)
Another striking building just a little way along from the church is the Royal Seminary.
It was built over 130 years ago by King Rama V as a memorial to his daughter after she drowned in the Chao Phraya. If that story has made you feel a bit blue, have a look at those clouds… what’s going on with the sky in Bangkok?!
One Last View On My Chao Phraya Boat Trip
As my Chao Phraya boat trip came to an end, their was still one last building to see from the river. Granted I could probably do a better job if I was taking pictures with something a bit stronger than the lens on my iPhone, but if you look closely, you’ll see the top of The Royal Palace and The Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
If you can’t make out the Palace just run your peepers over those clouds!!
What can I say about The Royal Palace that hasn’t already been said…well you could just have a look at a previous post that has all the information about this magical place. The Temple Of The Emerald Buddha
Many other stunning temples dot the banks of the Chao Phraya such as Wat Arun: Temple of Dawn
I could be really informative now and give you lots of details about ferry times and piers but I’m going to leave that in the hands of the website below. What I will say is that travelling the Chao Phraya is a must for anyone visiting Bangkok. Not only is it a beautiful way to see the city, it’s also incredibly cheap – and as a man that owns diving stocks, as cheap as possible is good!