Bangkok is one of the most vibrant cities in the world and a must-visit if you’re in Thailand. It can also be rather hectic and humidity at times, however one way to see it in style is from the water. Here are 5 good reasons why you should try a Bangkok river cruise.
1 – Discover Bangkok’s lifeblood
Chao Phraya River, also known as the River of Kings, is the lifeblood of Bangkok. Many Thai people ply their wares at the floating markets such as Wat Sai. You’ll occasionally come across individual boats in other parts of the river, selling fruit, vegetables, sunhats and more. Our private X2 2 hour luxury river and canal tour started at Sathorn Pier, which is easily reached from the centre. Alternatively, you can ask to be picked up from Taksin Pier. The boat holds up to 14 people and is open at the back but with a cover providing welcome shade. We chose the daytime Bangkok river cruise for maximum photo opportunities although the sunset visit sounded very tempting.
2 – Travel in style to the main tourist attractions
At the moment, there is quite a lot of construction in the centre of Bangkok whilst the Green Line transit extension is being constructed. Due to this, travelling by road can be quite time-consuming. Seeing the sights by boat is a great alternative and you won’t get stuck in a traffic jam. Wat Arun, or the Temple of Dawn, is located directly on the waterfront and well worth a visit. It dates from the seventeenth century although its iconic prana or spires were constructed during the reign of King Rama II in the nineteenth century. Our private boat docked a minute’s walk from the temple and we were whisked straight inside by our charming guides. They’d even thought of a parasol to protect us from the sun. When we visited, there were ongoing repairs although that didn’t spoil our enjoyment of this majestic monument. As you enter the temple, you will notice signs asking visitors to respect Buddha and not to buy decorative items of the deity.
It’s important to cover your shoulders and knees, although you can borrow a shawl inside the temple grounds.
Wat Arun has some striking mosaics made from broken pieces of porcelain that really catch the light.
You can climb up the temple stairs to get a closer look. I’d definitely recommend wearing flat shoes as the steps are quite high. It’s best to visit early morning or late afternoon as the heat and humidity can be quite strong.
As we left the temple, our guide handed us a fresh coconut purchased from a stall holder within the temple – it was wonderfully refreshing. Back on board, they gave us a cool flannel which was very welcome after the heat of the sun.
3 – See off the beaten track sights
As well as the river, there’s a whole network of canals in Bangkok that are off the tourist trail. One of the most fun activities on a Bangkok river cruise is feeding the fish in the Bangkok-Noi canal. It’s located in the Thonburi neighbourhood, nicknamed the Venice of the East. For many years, locals and visitors have been giving the fish food and as a result, there are some huge fish waiting to be fed. You won’t spot them until you throw bread into the water, at which point they’ll appear in their droves.
There’s a boat in front of the temple selling bread but our guides had thoughtfully brought several loaves along for us. It’s a really fun experience seeing the fish leaping up and catching the bread.
4 – Get recommendations from the locals
We asked our guide for a good place to eat authentic Thai food and she recommended Celadon within the Suko Thai hotel. It was a great tip – the food was beautifully presented and tasted delicious. She also told us about her favourite museum near our hotel, Kamthieng House, that we sadly did not get time to visit.
5 – Enjoy a taste of Bangkok’s lively nightlife
Our tour ended at Asiatique The Riverfront, although you can ask to be dropped off at Saphan Taksin Pier if you prefer. Asiatique opened in 2012 on the site of the former docks of the East Asiatic Company.
It is home to many restaurants such as Baan Khanitha by the River.
There’s also Asiatique Sky, a 60 metre high ferris wheel as well as a puppet theatre and a night market.
It was the perfect place to end our Bangkok river cruise. We took in many key sights in a truly relaxing way – thanks to X2 River Cruises for such an enjoyable experience.
Have you ever visited Bangkok and did you travel on the river?