Traditional commuter boat on the Chao Phraya river in Bangkok
No visitor to Bangkok should miss seeing it from the river. Yes, the Chao Phraya (“River of Kings”) is a polluted, chocolate-colored waterway, but it takes you past traditional barges, gleaming wats (temples), old warehouses converted into markets, and modern skyscraper hotels, giving you a perfect overview of the city.
The Wat Arun temple seen from the river at sunset
The cheapest and easiest way to experience it is to jump on the Chao Phraya Express, the commuter boat with noisy engines, fumes, lots of pushing and shoving from other passengers, and river marshals yelling at everyone to hurry up. Alternatively, hop on the “tourist boat,” which doesn’t give you the authentic or locals’ experience, but is the most convenient and reliable boat service. It stops at the busiest and most central piers by the main attractions, and has an open top for unobstructed city views and the best photos.
Downtown Bangkok seen from a boat crossing the Chao Phraya
With the all-day all-night pass you may hop off one pier for one attraction, and back on again for another.
It’s an experience worth having at night, for the beautifully-lit temples.
The Grand Palace seen from a cruise
For the all-day pass for unlimited rides on the hop-on-hop-off Chao Phraya river cruises, look here: