You’re probably wondering, what’s the big deal about touring a river, after all, it’s just ariver, right? Wrong! Well, yes, Chao Phraya is a river, but you’d be surprised at how many things you can do here, in Bangkok. And by that, we don’t just mean sightseeing and taking pictures with the river as your backdrop. There’s a whole lot that this River offers, and the list below is testament to that.
For starters, the Chao Phraya river is the star attraction of Bangkok (yes, Bangkok isn’t just about incredibly cheap shopping, temples and delicious food). It’s also the go-to place for the city’s major events, such as Songkran (Thai New Year in April) and annual Loy Krathong Festival (in November), to name a few.
But go ahead and give the below a read, you’ll certainly be pleasantly surprised at how many things you can do.
Asiatique is a night bazaar/mall that operates from 5pm till midnight. The place bursts into life as both tourists and locals alike come to visit the 1,500 boutiques and some 40 odd restaurants, excluding small vendors along the walkways and massage places. You most definitely don’t want to miss a visit to this place, for it offers everything you want under one roof – and it won’t hurt your pocket cause here’s where you can bargain! You may also get aboard the Ferris wheel, or catch shows at the Joe Louis Puppet Theatre and Muay Thai Show.
This 28.88 acre market can get quite overwhelming for first-time visitors, which is why this place is divided into four sections for convenience: The Factory District (comprising of modern lifestyle shopping such as the Apple store and dining scene), The Waterfront District (houses fancy restaurants, and venue for events), The Town Square District (a stretch of Thai restaurants and Western sports bar), and The Chareonkrung District (place to get Thai souvenirs and performing arts venue).
*Opening hours: 5pm to midnight.
2. Check out markets
There are markets aplenty in Bangkok, but you should head to the Thewet Market – a short walk from the Tha Thewet River Pier and well worth a visit. For here is where you’ll find various kinds of flowers and plant vendors flanking both sides of Khlong Phadung Krung Kasem, as well as fish and vegetable stalls at the intersection of Samsen Road and Krung Kasem.
*Opening hours: Daily from dawn till mid-afternoon.
3. Head to famous temples.
It would be a crime to visit Bangkok and not see their famous and beloved temples. At least Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn), as it is known to be the most stunning temple in Bangkok. Its unique design andstunning location at the Chao Phraya River make this a sight to behold and the perfect photo op for you. By the way, even though this is the Temple of Dawn, sunset holds this temple in all its glory.
Tourists can climb up the Wat Arun, but the steep steps make going up just as challenging as coming down.
And whilst you’re here, make some time to visit Wat Pho temple (Temple of Reclining Buddha), as it’s directly opposite Wat Arun – just take a river boat that’ll ferry you across. Here you’ll marvel at a 46 meter long reclining Buddha covered in gold leaf. Apart from housing impressive structures, this temple is the leading school for massages, so if you ever tire out, here is the place for a massage – and you know you’re in good hands! Other temples to note are Wat Kalayanamit and Wat Phra Kaew to name a few.
*Opening hours: Wat Arun – 8.30am to 5.30pm. Wat Pho – 8am to 6.30pm.
**Wat Arun: 50 Bhat entrance fee. Wat Pho: 100 Bhat entrance fee.
4. Walk around Chinatown
This is the perfect place to concoct the image of what Bangkok was like in its yesteryears. You won’t run out of things to see and do in Chinatown; from shopping to eating, you can spend hours here.
The 1km strip is a sight to behold with Chinese temples, market stalls, street-side restaurants, gold shops, and rows of wooden shop-houses. This place is deemed so popular, that even locals venture here just for the food – which makes for a great mix of tourists and Thais.
5. Catch a show
Thailand has created a reputation for itself with “Ping-Pong Shows” and “Lady Boy.” Of course you want to know what the fuss is about, so get in on the mysteries and catch a show in Bangkok that’ll help do some explaining. The Calypso Cabaret Lady Boy show at Asiatique, is one that’s much talked about.
It’s where these lady-boys don up to the nines and mime Cher. A little heads-up: some of the lady-boys are so attractive, they make naturally born female jealous (which also makes it hard for the inexperienced eye to decipher a lady-boy from a female!).
6. Get on a bicycle
Whoever said getting from point A to B had to be done in a car? And whoever said that travelling couldn’t burn off calories? Well, on this tour you’ll ride your way through some pretty nifty tourist spots, and work that body out. Check out the amazing Wat Arun temple and Sao Ching Cha (a giant swing that represents the movement of Lord Shiva).
Some of the most creative and entertaining cycling tours actually happen in Bangkok, with a large selection of tours to choose from. By Night, By the River, In Chinatown, and so on. Check it out !
7. Hop on a scooter
Cab rides are aplenty in every place you go. So trade the comforts of an air-conditioned four-wheeler, with a scooter. This tour allows for an overview of Bangkok and its plenty attractions, all while your tour guide communicates with you via a headset. And if there’s any place you want to see, or have already visited on the list, simply plan with them ahead of time, and they’ll be glad to heed your request.
8. Cruise along the river
Well, if you’re touring along the river it only makes sense to be able to sail over it. So get aboard this Apsara Dinner & Cruise by Banyan tree, for it offers romantic settings and a six-course set dinner.
Enjoy the pampering onboard, as you sail past famous landmarks such as the iconic Wat Arun temple and Grand Palace. Whip out those cameras to capture passing temples and towering skyscrapers, defining the Bangkok beat. However, if you truly want to experience Bangkok for what it is, get aboard a longtail boat. This tour offers you just the right balance between sightseeing and the and the local’s way of life.
Find here best cruises & boat tours of Bangkok.
9. Sip a drink by the river
Along the Chao Phraya River you’ll find plenty of places to sip a cool beer, but if you had to pick one, let it be a bar along Asiatique. That’s because not only are most of the bars facing the calm and serene river, but also because some showcase amazing live bands. You’ll be glad to know that the bands don’t just blast pop music, but have stellar jazz performances that are sure to impress anyone.
One such bar is Checkmate, that’s opened till 1am. Alternatively, head to Rivercity Shopping complex for a quieter time, where the Balco Bar located on the fifth floor offers a panoramic view of the Bangkok skyline. It’s lesser known to the masses, and offers mouth-watering Thai barbecue at the restaurant.
Checkmate Opening Hours: Daily 5pm to 1am.
Other bars that worth being visited for an impressive view over the river can be Balco Bar, The Deck, The Mandarin Oriental or The bar by the river @ Peninsula Hotel.
10. Hop on a tuk-tuk.
You’ll quite enjoy a tuk-tuk ride in Bangkok, for its uniqueness – because how many countries have one, really? It’s an open ride, three-wheeler, with enough space to stretch your legs out, and seating for 3 people (or five, or six, because if you fit you can sit). So get comfortable on your very own “chauffeur” driven transport as you ride past several attractions, busy streets, and mouth-watering food places. Get a feel of what you’re really signing up for reading through our past article where the eOasia team experienced the iconic Bangkok Tuk-Tuk tour. For we’ve been-there-done-that and are pretty stoked to be sharing this one with you!
Although, the whole Tuk-Tuk tour doesn’t take place along the river, it will cover a few riverside spots, among them some of the temples mentioned earlier. Get ready for an intimate experience in the night lights of Bangkok.
So here are the few activities that anyone can engage in along the Chao Phraya River. Of course you’re not limited to just these, as there’s an extensive list of must-see and do things. If you have any ideas or suggestions of what activities are available along the River then we’d love to hear them from you. And if you tried any of the above-listed ones, what was your experience like? Sharing is always caring 🙂
By Rachel Erasmus