Bangkok, Thailand

Getting Around


By Boat

Chao Phraya Express Boat
A ride on the Chao Phraya River should be high on any tourist's agenda. The cheapest and most popular option is the Chao Phraya Express Boat plying up and down the river. The boats sail between Wat Rajsingkorn and Nonthaburi with stops at most of Rattanakosin's major attractions including the Grand Palace and Wat Pho. Enter the boats from the piers and pay the conductor after boarding. At some larger piers you can purchase the ticket before boarding. When the conductor approaches you, show the ticket that you purchased at the pier.

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The different boat lines are indicated by the colours of the flags at the top of the boat. These flags can be confusing i.e. don't think the yellow King's flag corresponds to the "yellow line" flag!

  • There is a basic "no flag" line runs during rush hours (Monday to Friday from 06:20 a.m. to 8:05 a.m. and from 3:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.) and is fairly slow since they stop at all the piers.
  • The yellow line (Monday to Friday from 6:15 a.m. to 8:10 p.m. and from 3:30 p.m. to 6:05 p.m.) and orange line (every day from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.) are faster don't make all the stops.
The yellow line is the fastest but best avoided as it skips many popular attractions (including Khao San Road, the Grand Palace and Wat Pho). The orange line is your best bet since it covers the major tourist areas.

There is also the blue flag Tourist Boat which stops at a different subset of piers, offering commentary in English and charges 30 baht for a single ride and 150 baht for a day pass. The boats only operate every 30 minutes and stop running by 3:00 p.m.

The signs at the piers are quite clear with numbered piers and English route maps. Sathorn (Taksin) Pier has been dubbed "Central Station", as it offers a quick interchange to Saphan Taksin (Metro) Station. Many piers are served by cross-river ferries and depart every 10 minutes. A ride on the cross-river ferry cost just 3 baht and you pay at the kiosk at the pier.

Chao Phraya Express Boat by Achp ru
Saen Saep Express Boat
The Saen Saep Express Boat serves the long Saen Saep Canal, one of the remaining canals (khlong) that used to flow through Bangkok.
The express boats sail a distance of 18 km (11 miles) and operate from 5:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. The canal runs parallel to Phetchaburi Road from the Golden Mount in Rattanakosin to Siam Square and Pratunam. If you want to continue your journey beyond Pratunam, passengers have to change boats here and the boats head east to Sukhumvit and Ramkhamhaeng.

The service is mostly used by the locals to commute to work. The service is cheap and you can get to see a cross-section of Bangkok's neighbourhoods. Fares cost 14-22 baht and pay to the conductor clambering around on the outside of the boat, ducking at bridges as it sails on the canal. Press the green "bell" button if you want to get off at the next pier or else the boat might just skip the stop.
Saen Seap Express Boat by David McKelvey

River taxi
For trips outside set routes, you can hire a long-tail river taxi at any major pier. These are fairly expensive and operators will attempt to charge as much as 500 baht per hour. Therefore, riding on a river taxi makes sense for travelling in small groups. To circumvent the touts who attempt to get a large cut for every ride, agree for the price of the shortest possible ride (30 minutes) and then negotiate directly with the captain once on board.

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