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Chao Phraya River

Chao Phraya River public boat transportation Express

Chao Phraya is the river that runs through Bangkok. There is a public boat-bus system set up called the Chao Phraya River Express. I was picturing something like the Grand Canal in Venice where there are basically three kinds of boats–gondolas, bus boats, and others making deliveries. I was also imagining a formal ticketing system (like Venice) where you purchase a ticket before riding the River Express. Finally, I figured the boats would be clearly marked as part of the River Express (maybe they are marked in Thai–but there are no Roman letters to be seen).

Not so on all counts. First of all, the boat “bus” stops are nearly impossible to recognize. They are dilapidated, mini piers with no signs getting you there and only one sign once you are there (visible only from the river). The people working on the piers are trying to sell you a ride on one of their boats, not the River Express. The River Express is 9 baht. Their boats are 1,000+ baht.

To make matters worse, there are dozens of different kinds of boats landing at these piers. No announcement is made when the River Express lands. There is no time schedule posted, etc. The River Express employees make no announcements when they arrive or depart. You merely have to know that you are getting on the correct boat. The boat pictured above is the correct one.

The boats arrive and depart without warning. If you don’t immediately get on, you will not be getting on. It’s that simple (or frustrating depending on whether you get on the correct boat or not).

We took the River Express (there is nothing “express” about it by the way) from Pier 1 (Oriental Pier) to Pier 9 (Tha Chang Pier). Even though the water is seriously polluted, and we had to stand the entire way, the ride was somehow refreshing–much cooler anyway than standing or walking around Bangkok in the middle of the day.

Chao Phraya River bangkok Wat Kalayanmit

A few temples (wat) can be seen from the river. One is Wat Kalayanmit, pictured above. The boat pictured in front of this temple is a long tail boat, which you can rent to cruise the Bangkok waterways or to get to one of Thailand’s many islands.

Chao Phraya River wat arun temple dawn

Another of the temples that can be partially viewed from the Chao Phraya River is Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn).

lunch thai food off Chao Phraya River

Once we arrived at Pier 9 we found ourselves in the middle of a shopping/eating center of sorts. We had brunch at the place above. There are few other places in the world where a family of four can all be happy with their meal and the bill come to less than $10 total.

2 Responses to “Chao Phraya River”

  1. 1

    great images. the temple of dawn is stunning. i have heard the food i thailand is wonderful and inexpensive. Happy New Year and I wish you many good photos in 2010!

  2. 2

    You were probably going to the Grand Palace.

    We took this trip too but we boarded from Sathorn Pier. There were posters, actually, stating which boat (identified by their flag color) to take depending on which station would you like disembark. Say for instance, in our case, we boarded a boat with orange flag which stopped both in Sathorn Pier and Tha Chang Pier (N9)