Chao Phraya River frontage

As Bangkok's largest river, the Chao Phraya River is an historic landmark. Flowing into the Gulf of Thailand, the Chao Phraya River was chosen by King Taksin and other early settlers as the area for their new capital based on the fertility of the land and the abundant fish provided by it. When King Rama I later founded modern Bangkok, the river contributed to Bangkok’s labelling as the ‘Venice of the East’.


The ‘River of Kings’, as it was labelled, is now used by some 50,000 people each day, where ferries and barges run frequently and children play in the russet waters. The Chao Phraya River Frontage stretches over several kilometres up and down the river, and houses some of the most luxurious hotels in Asia, including the Shangri La, The Oriental, and The Peninsular. Eighteenth century European temples, churches and civic buildings line the edges of the river alongside the hotels, with sampans selling noodle soups and other delicacies scattered inbetween. 

This area is a hub of activity; the Chao Phraya River still provides a major transportation corridor from the Gulf of Thailand up to Nonthaburi, Ayutthaya and beyond. The river offers a contrasting mix between the heavily laden barges, being towed by old tug boats snaking their way to the gulf, and the high-end hotel ferries and dinner cruise ships filled with tourists hungry for the taking in the fantastic atmosphere. The river holds juxtapositions of calm and chaotic, and modern and traditional, with its eclectic mix of busy river workers and serene waters.

The river frontage is easily accessed via the BTS (Elevated skytrain), which stops at Saphan Taksin along its route from Central Bangkok westwards. From this BTS station, the hotels are all within easy walking distance, and those that are on the other side of the river offer complimentary ferries that generally depart from River City. Public boat lines operate along 34 piers, stopping at selective piers outside of rush hour. 

River taxis ply the route between Nonthaburi in the north of the city and the south of the city, and for a relatively small fare (currently about THB 20), you will be able to visit some of the top tourist attractions in Bangkok including the Grand Palace (please note the dress code required to enter the palace) and Wat Arum.

It is worth taking a tour through the klongs (canals), where you will get a notion of how the Thai people co-exist with the river, and will leave you with lasting impressions of Bangkok.

Image Credit: mattjamestravel Philip Roeland bangkok_diary