Chaophraya Tourist Boat
The Chao Phraya river makes a great way to get around, since many of the major tourist sites are easily accessible from the river. Chao Praya River Express operates a regular boat service up and down the river. Sort of a bus on the water. Fares are extremely cheap - you can get just about anywhere for 11 Baht to 25 Baht (0.29 USD to 0.65 USD) depending on the distance and the type of boat. There are piers next to many of the riverside hotels. Even if you aren't staying on the river, if you are staying close to the elevated train system, you can catch a train to the Taksin Bridge station. A River Express pier is on the river right below the station, and there is generally someone on duty at the pier to sell you a ticket and help plan your trip. The boats can be dangerously crowded during peak traffic times, so avoid rush hours.
At the beginning of 2003 the River Express operator started a new service specifically for tourists. The new "Chao Phraya Tourist Boat" uses newer more comfortable boats serving just those piers of interest to tourists. The price structure is also different. You must purchase a one-day river pass for 150 Baht (3.90 USD) which entitles you to an unlimited number of trips on the same day. Compared to the cost of just a couple of trips on the regular boats, it's rather expensive but may well be worth the comfort and convenience.
The map below shows the piers you're most likely to use. Click on the names to see a list of the sights you can reach from these piers.
The piers and sights of central Bangkok. Click on any pier name for more information about the sights at each stop.
Tewet pier, north of the Phra Arthit Pier, is rather a sight in itself. A huge school of large fish mill about beneath the pier, waiting for people to feed them. This tends to be rather frequently, as there are a number of vendors selling fish food on the pier. A feeding frenzy ensues the second anything hits the surface of the river around the pier.
Pinklao Bridge Pier: Although it's still a bit of a walk through a labyrinth of walkways, the Pinklao Bridge Pier is the closest stop to the Royal Barge Museum.
Beyond the piers shown in the map, you'll find the following docks between the royal city and the Central Pier at Sathorn:
- Ratchawong Pier
This pier is your "gateway" to Chinatown. From here, you can walk up Ratchawong Road to Sampaeng Lane and Chinatown's main street, Yaowarat Road.
- Si Phraya Pier
- Oriental Pier
- Sathorn Pier
You can find out more about the express boat service at the Chao Phraya Express Boat web site.