Published On: Sat, Jul 21st, 2018

Bangkok River Trip

Bangkok can be a fairly muggy, polluted and oppressive city, with no apparent means of escape. One option that is frequently overlooked is the river. Take a 13 Baht river ferry from central Bangkok and an hour later it arrives at the peaceful town of Nonthaburi. Sitting by the edge of the river is a quiet restaurant that serves superb seafood and fresh fruit shakes. Looking over a quiet stretch of the Chao Praya, surrounded by trees, temples and small houses, it feels a million miles from the city. There is also a lot to be seen on the way.

Bangkok River Trip

Bangkok Public Ferry

The river ferry is a convenient means of public transport along the Chao Phraya river and is used by many. Starting at Saphan Taksin, it stops at numerous places of interest before terminating at Nonthaburi. The boat is large and comfortable although it can get a bit crowded during rush hour as the ferry is a common way to commute for the residents of Bangkok. But even rush hour can have it’s own charm as it gets full of kids, college students, and monks on their way to the Buddhism College by the Grand Palace. Life on the river is a different world from the rest of Bangkok.

Sathorn Ferry Pier

A suggested route begins with taking the skytrain to Saphan Taksin. The pier is directly below the station and is clearly signposted. The pier itself is called Sathorn, not Saphan Taksin. At the pier ask for a Chao Phraya express boat ticket to Nonthaburi. It costs 13 baht for a ferry that stops at all the piers. The most famous stops are Banglumpoo (near the back-packer area of Khao San), Si Phraya (River City mall) and Ta Chang, although there are piers that are interesting but relatively unknown to tourists.

Bangkok Flower Market

The flower market, Pak Klong Talat, is within walking distance from the Memorial Bridge pier. This is where all the flowers from the farms surrounding Bangkok are brought, prior to their distribution to florists all over the city. The best time to visit is the early morning although it’s possible to get exotic but cheap bouquets at any time.

Thewat Pier

Another interesting stop is Thewat. By the pier it is possible to see the thrashing of thousands of fish as they wait for food to be thrown from passers by. The food is sold by local vendors on the pier. The sounds and splashes of water caused by the large fish as they fight over slices of bread are violent yet fascinating.

Bangkok Sights from the river

The boat floats past numerous places of architectural interest with a wide variety of ages and styles. There are upmarket hotels such as the Oriental and the Shangri La, hundred year old Thai houses, modern condominiums, the temples of Wat Po and Wat Arun, the Grand Palace, and the Royal Thai Navy dockyard.

The lifestyles evident along both sides of the river are unique and interesting. Expensive apartments are just a few metres from old, small houses. Groups of boys laugh as they jump into the river while their parents wash their clothes. Tourists relax at riverside restaurants after hours spent walking and shopping on the Kao San road. It can make for some fascinating sights and superb photography.

Nonthaburi

After about an hour, the ferry will pull in to its final stop at Nonthaburi. Reminiscent of a Bangkok from 50 years ago, downtown Nonthaburi is fascinating and worth a visit. A walk around the pier to see the local market, the old official buildings, and the clock tower are entertaining and impressive.

By the pier are a couple of local restaurants that are built over the river where you can sit at wooden tables and eat fresh seafood. The Thai food there is simple but delicious and at reasonable prices. The fresh cool breeze from the river creates a relaxing atmosphere and a welcome breath of fresh air.

About the Author

- Paul Linus is an eminent online journalist who has been writing news, features and editorials on different websites from across the world for about a decade. He can be contacted at knowledgeherald@gmail.com

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