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River cruise in Bangkok ' sightseeing on the Chao Phraya

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A river cruise in Bangkok gives an insight to the community
life on the Chao Phraya River and the legacies on this river of
kings, a picture of stark contrasts.

It needn't have to be an elaborate affair; you can cut the frills
and expenses. Plan the river cruise yourself for a more
meaningful Bangkok sightseeing tour from the Chao Phraya
River.

The Chao Phraya River is the longest river in Thailand
stretching 370 km from Nakhon Sawan, more than 200 km
north of Bangkok. The river continues past Bangkok to flow
into the Gulf of Thailand in Samut Prakan to the south.
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Chao Phraya is also the highest title in ancient Thai nobility,
similar to the Duke in British nobility. The title is no longer in
use.

Attractions, landmarks and views in a river cruise in
Bangkok


Start the river cruise from the Sathorn Pier near the Taksin
Bridge; five minutes walk from the Taksin Bridge skytrain
station, the terminal station for trains from the city center.

Proceed northwards passing the scenic water front hotels like
the old Oriental Bangkok where famous writers like Joseph
Conrad and Somerset Maugham left their mark.

The first recommended stopover, in a river cruise in Bangkok,
is the Ratchawong Pier which leads to Yaowarat Chinatown,
Soi Sampheng where Chinatown started and Soi Sun Yat Sen
named after the father of the Chinese Revolution.

The Memorial Bridge, the next stop, is dedicated to King Rama
I, the founder of Bangkok. His monument, near the bridge,
depicts King Rama I on a throne gazing at the bustling city he
founded more than 220 years ago. Pahurat, the Indian
community in Bangkok is further inland.

Historical aspects of the Chao Phraya

Further upriver on the Thonburi bank, near the mouth of the
Bangkok Yai Canal, the white ramparts of Fort Vichai Prasit
come into view. This was an old Ayutthaya fort built in 1688.
King Taksin's Palace is here in the complex that's now the
Royal Thai Navy HQ.

Next to this old citadel, stands the glittering Wat Arun, Temple
of Dawn, a temple built in the Ayutthaya era.

The Bangkok Yai Canal and the Bangkok Noi Canal, further
upriver, used to be the original course of the Chao Phraya
River.

This long meander was straightened out by a canal in 1542 to
shorten sailing time to Ayutthaya. The new canal subsequently
became the present course of the Chao Phraya River.

The river cruise in Bangkok will now pass the most majestic
sight along the Chao Phraya River, the Grand Palace and the
Temple of the Emerald Buddha in old Rattanakosin, the
historical center, which is the origin of modern Bangkok.

The Thonburi bank, across from the Grand Palace, is where
old communities have lived long before Bangkok was
established as the capital. The Bangkok Noi Museum, further
inland, preserves the history of these communities.

The Royal Barge Museum is located in the Bangkok Noi Canal
near the Phra Pin Klao Bridge.

The river cruise in Bangkok next passes Fort Phra Sumen,
built in 1783 to fortify the old city. Located near the mouth of
the Banglampoo Canal, the second protective canal ring, it's
one of the two remaining forts left from the Bangkok era.

River life and scenes on the Chao Phraya

On the banks, rickety old wooden houses on stilts can be seen
in stark contrast to the spanking new houses and
condominiums. The noodle vendor in a boat sells her food from
house to house as restaurants provide riverside dining near the
some of the piers.

The most spectacular bridge across the Chao Phraya River
encountered in a river cruise in Bangkok is the King Rama
VIII Bridge, a suspension bridge that stands out like a giant
harp over the water. Bang Khun Phrom Palace, which houses
the Bank of Thailand Museum, is nearby.

Bridges across the Chao Phraya River serve as useful
landmarks in a river cruise in Bangkok. Some piers, located
near these bridges, are named after them. You'll pass under
eight bridges in the entire river cruise.

Further upriver life gets less touristy and more rustic,
particularly on the Thonburi bank. Many piers are named
after wats (temples) located nearby, around which community
life is built. Some of these temples, though less well known, are
equally beautiful as their city counterparts.

Chao Phraya boat services for a river cruise of
Bangkok

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