Famous for its cultural heritage and waterfronts, Bangkok is an exotic holiday destination in Thailand. This capital city is locally known as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, and is the most populous city in the country. Bangkok occupies a little over 600 square miles of land area in the delta region formed by River Chao Phraya, and is, therefore, one of the best places to enjoy water sports, and leisure activities, especially the Bangkok cruise. The city has successfully made its mark as one of the best holiday destinations for international tourists.
With no dearth of things to do in Bangkok, a considerable number of tourists are drawn to the city every year. The best way to explore this stunning delta city is by cruising through the Chao Phraya river that meanders through the city centre. The ships cruise along the waterways of the river allowing you to get a different perspective of the city landmarks. Choose to have a romantic date with someone or yourself on an evening cruise and watch the skies turn orange as you enjoy that glass of wine.
What to Expect on a Bangkok Cruise
There are a variety of Chao Phraya river tours available in Bangkok. Sunset cruises, dinner cruises, private cruises are some of them. Depending on your budget, you can choose between a traditional Thai riverboat cruise, a long-tail boat ride, or a luxury cruise package. The most basic kind of river cruises are economical, are also taken by most locals, and last only a few hours. The day-time cruises last 5 to 8 hours and cover a comparatively bigger stretch of the waterways and include an impressive view of the city along the shoreline. The longer cruises offer longer rides, overnight stays, and cover a maximum stretch of the river.
Each cruise follows a certain route through the Chao Phraya river which includes some important city attractions like The Grand Palace, Wat Arun, and Wat Pho. You can expect some amenities for the overnight cruises; however, there is little offered for those who opt for the economical cruises. Foodies are not left out too. If you are one, get prepared to enjoy some scrumptious Thai, Asian or International cuisine. Several ships also have bars that serve a variety of alcoholic or non- alcoholic drinks. Most cruises offer entertainment too; traditional dance and music performances being the most popular. However, it is also quite often that some cruises will have a jazz or pop live show.
Choosing the Right Bangkok Cruise
Budget: There are several Chao Phraya river cruises you can choose from depending on your budget. The range starts around $35 (1,057 THB) for an economical boat cruise over a traditional ship and can go as high as $900 (27,200 THB) for a private luxury cruise.
Experiences on offer: The experiences each river cruise offers include the onboard services, which depends on the package you choose. But, you also get to see and enjoy the city infrastructure along the edge of the Chao Phraya river, some stunning works of architecture, and the ambience as you enjoy a glass of drink or scrumptious dinner along with some entertainment.
Sightseeing Route: Each river tour begins from a pre-decided pickup point on the Chao Phraya river. Tourists need to reach the pier to board their cruise ships. Most dinner cruises begin from River City Pier, while most ferries and long-tail boats begin from Sathorn Pier and head northwards. The route goes from under the Phra Pok Klao Bridge and covers tourist attractions like Wat Pho, Wat Rakang Kositaram, Wat Arun and The Grand Palace.
Time and Duration of Cruise: The time and duration of each river tour depend on the package you have chosen. The meal cruises last 2 hours approximately, while the day-long tours last for about 4 to 6 hours. You can opt for a morning cruise, an afternoon or an evening cruise depending on your schedule. The overnight cruise usually begins in the evening and lasts till the early morning of the next day (10 to 12 hours). Some river tours can be booked for 2 to 5 days.
Best Bangkok Cruises
Chao Phraya Princess Cruise offers dinner cruises that last 2 hours or so. You can choose from one of the six ships they have and enjoy a delicious buffet dinner with someone special. The first thing you will notice on the Chao Phraya Princess Cruise as you sail through the Chao Phraya river is the cool evening breeze, perfect to unwind after a long day of sightseeing. They also have live music shows. Do visit the deck for a moment to soak in the tranquillity and watch the city lights shimmering along the shore.
White Orchid River Cruise is one of the cruises that offers a complete Thai river cruise experience. As the ship sails through the serene Chao Phraya river, passengers can enjoy a delicious Thai meal along with traditional dance performances. The best part of this cruise is that it is guided by one of the dancers who shares information about the attractions that the ship sails by. Evening cruises are romantic and you could get a chance to enjoy a cabaret performance too.
Apsara dinner cruise is another cruise famous for its Thai dinner, background music, and its old-school charm. Sail through the Chao Phraya river in a traditional riverboat, where you will be welcomed with some flowers and a welcome drink upon boarding from the River City Pier. The route covers The Grand Palace and Wat Arun and lasts for about 2 to 3 hours. This cruise is highly recommended for those who want to spend some quiet time in the serene waters of the Chao Phraya river.
As the name suggests, Grand Pearl Dinner Cruise is a river tour on a huge three-storey ship. You can explore any floor of the ship. Dine on one floor and hang out on the other as you enjoy the city lights along the shoreline and the pleasant breeze. The cuisine they serve has international dishes too, so you have more food options. Grand Pearl Dinner Cruises also offer full-day tours and cover most attractions along the shore.
As the name suggests, Manohra Cruises offer an intimate experience for the passengers. The cruises are famous for dining on a wooden boat sailing through the Chao Phraya river. The wooden décor and the cosy size of the ship makes it perfect for large groups and families. They also mostly serve traditional Thai food. Their signature dishes often draw several people back to the cruise. These river cruises offer delicious food and a quiet cruise experience; perfect for those who want to spend a relaxing evening by the sea.
Ensure you avoid revealing, short and tight apparel. You may carry a jacket or a shawl just in case the breeze is cooler than expected and avoid wearing shoes with a weak grip or with heels.
- You may carry a camera or your camera phone to shoot pictures on the cruise. Try to avoid anything that needs sturdy support as it may fall down and break. For the cruises that have stops at some attractions, there may be restrictions on photography. It is, therefore, advisable that you check with the cruise manager in advance. Also, do not take pictures of the locals or people sitting around you without asking them.
- Be sensitive towards the culture, avoid public display of affection, using improper language and avoid being aggressive with the locals.
- Leave a small tip for the waiter after your dinner on the cruise.
- Do not move anything with your feet as they are considered unclean.
- You will mostly be greeted by a smiling staff. Smile back at them. Your experience will be pleasant for sure.
Do all the cruises arrange for hotel pick-ups and drops?
Not all cruises offer these services. You must check with them in advance and arrange for a drop till the pier if required.
How long do the dinner cruises last?
The dinner cruises last 2 to 3 hours max.
Are the cruises overcrowded?
Not all cruises are overcrowded. You may check online for more information about the cruise before booking.
Are all cruises wheelchair accessible?
No, not all cruises are wheelchair accessible.
When is the best season to go on a river cruise in Bangkok?
The best season to go on a river cruise in Bangkok is between November and May, which is the driest time in the city.
Can I get vegetarian food on the cruise?
That depends on the menu they follow. Check with the manager about the kind of food they serve and if they take additional requests.
Can I get seasick on the cruise?
The river water is usually calm, so you would hardly feel sick. You may want to carry your medication if you suffer from motion sickness just in case it is required.
Are these cruises safe?
The cruises are safe. You may contact the cruise manager if you have questions regarding your safety. It is recommended that you know what to do during an accident or a disaster.