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The best of Southeast Asia

Banglampu Maharaj Tha Chang Tha Thien Memorial Bridge Chinatown River City Pier Oriental Pier Sathorn Pier Taksin Bridge Skytrain Rot Fai Pier Pinklao Bridge Pier Rama 8 Bridge Pier Tewet Pier

Bangkok by 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 15 Baht to 25 Baht (0.40 USD to 0.67 USD). 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 100 Baht (2.66 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.

Chao Phraya River Express Map
Express Boat
Click on any pier name for more information about the sights at each stop.

Tewet Pier

The Tewet pier is rather a sight in itself. A huge schoal 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.

Tewet pier is the closest to the Dusit district external link. From here, you can take a tuk-tuk (or walk, but its a long one) to sights such as Vimanmek Mansion and Wat Benjamabophit external link.

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Rama VIII Bridge Pier

The pier at the foot of the spectacular new Rama VIII Bridge external link is the closest stop to the Wat Indrawiharn external link temple.

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Banglampo Pier Sights

The Banglampo pier is your access point to the backpacker-set district of Banglampoo external link, such as:

Wat Chana Songkram external link
People often use the temple as a shortcut between Khao San Road and the river without ever stopping to take a closer look. Big mistake.
Wat Bowoniwet external link
Along Phra Sumen road a few blocks from the Banglampu river pier is the important but seldom visited temple of Wat Bowoniwet. The Chinese style of the temple's decorations suggest it was built, or at least rebuilt, around the time of Rama II in the early 19th century. Nearby is a small section of the old city walls.
National Museum external link
Built around the sprawling former palace of the second king (sort of a crown prince), the National Museum presents an expansive view of Thai history, from prehistoric settlers to relics of the quite recent past. Its a toss-up as to whether its a shorter walk to the museum from Banglampu Pier or Chang Pier.

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Pinklao Bridge Pier

Although its still a bit of a walk through a labyrinth of walkways, the Pinklao Bridge Pier is the closest stop to the Royal Barge Museum external link.

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Rot Fai Pier

About the only reason to stop at this pier is if you're heading for Kanchanburi. Trains for this western province leave from the Bangkok Noi rail station next to this pier.

Wang Lung Pier

There's more to see around this pier than first meets the eye. Look at our map of the Wang Lung Pier area external link, or skip right to the highlights:

Patravadi Theater external link
The Patravadi Theater company is Bangkok's only independent modern theatrical group. Its complex near the Wang Lung pier is a beautiful stop, even if you're not planning on taking in a performance.
Wat Rakhang external link
On the Chaophraya river, almost facing the Grand Palace, is a small ancient temple now called Wat Rakhang Kositharam.

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Chang Pier Sights

The Chang Pier is the closest to the Grand Palace with its Temple of the Emerald Buddha. But wait! There's more:

Wat Mahathat external link
A little north of the Grand Palace compound, between the fine arts Silpakorn University and the University of law and sciences, Thammasat, lies the ancient temple of Wat Mahathat.
Sanam Luang external link/a>
The large oval field in front of the Grand Palace is in effect the nation's front yard.
City Pillar external link
Bangkok's city pillar lies off the northeast corner of the Grand Palace. The wooden stake was driven into the ground at 6:45 in the morning on the 21st of April 1782, a time determined by court astrologers to be the most auspicious.
National Museum external link
The National Musuem lies in the grounds of the former Wang Na, the 'front palace' which was built for the second king, a sort of crown prince.

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Thien Pier Sights

Thien Pier gets you to two of Bangkok's main tourist sights, but its also the starting point for our walking tour external link which shows you the many other sights of the royal city.

Wat Arun
To get to the Temple of Dawn, just take the ferry across the river which leaves from the pier next to the River Express.
Wat Po
The temple of the Reclining Buddha is just a short walk through the market surrounding the pier.

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Memorial Bridge Pier Sights

Memorial Bridge (in Thai Saphan Puut) is a great starting point to see several sights. Check out our walking tour of Chinatown for many of them. Here's a complete run-down of all the places within easy walking distance of the pier:

Pak Klong Market
Bangkok's biggest wet market and flower distribution center is right next to the pier.
Pahurat Market
The heart of "Little India" is a market mainly selling fabrics and wedding accessories.
The Old Siam
Quaint shopping center resembling a covered market.
Sampang Lane
Narrow alleyway lined with shops selling just about everything at the low end. Mostly clothes and cheap household items.
Wat Prayoon external link
Offbeat temple on the opposite side of the river. Noted for its huge pond teeming with turtles.
Princess Mother Memorial Park external link
This charming little park and museum is dedicated to the late Princess Mother, one of the most beloved people in modern Thailand.
Kuan Ou Shrine external link
On the river next to the Princess Mother Memorial Park is the old Kuan Ou Chinese shrine, which dates from the very early years of Bangkok.
Wat Pichai Yathikaram external link
You can see the towering prang of Wat Pichai Yathikaram from the river, but in fact the temple itself is a somewhat forgotten corner of old Bangkok and is worth a visit if you're checking out some of the other sights in this part of the city.

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Ratchawong Pier Sights

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.

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Sri Phaya Pier Sights

River City
Large shopping complex specializing in "antiques." The center is also a good place to rent a long-tailed boat for your own canal tour.
Sheraton Royal Orchid
Big riverside hotel.
Portuguese Embassy

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Oriental Pier

There's more to see around the pier next to the Oriental Hotel than just the obvious. In addition to the hotel, here's some other sights nearby:

Assumption Cathederal
Turn down the first small street on your right after you leave the pier.
Thai Home Industries
Old-style shop selling local handicrafts. Right on the alley leading off the pier.
Oriental Place
A small, classy shopping arcade located just behind the Oriental's car park. Turn left down the first small street you come to after passing the hotel.
French Embassy
One of the oldest embassies in Bangkok, recently restored.

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Sathorn Pier

From the Sathorn Pier you can board the Skytrain to any destination. You can also easily walk to the following places and sights:

Wat Suan Plu external link
Wat Suan Plu is a small temple located on the side street which leads to one of the bigger tourist hotels -- the Shangri-La.
Wat Yannawa external link
An interesting temple with a bot shaped like Chinese junk. From the pier, make your way to the main road (Charoen Krung) and turn right. The temple is less than five minutes' walk.
Shangri-La
One of the largest riverside hotels. Its location on the river and next to a Skytrain station makes it a really great base for exploring Bankok.
Peninsula Hotel
Located on the opposite bank of teh river from the Oriental. Take a free boat operated by the hotel from the dock next to the River Express pier.
Marriott Riverside
Actually, this is some distance further downriver, but like the Peninsula the hotel operates a free shuttle boat between the pier and the hotel.

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Taksin Bridge Station

The Bangkok Transit System Skytrain can take you to Bangkok's main shopping district, in addition to the Jim Thompson House museum and Suan Pakkard Palace.

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