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Plan for travelling to Bangkok – Waterways

What should you plan to do during your next travel to Bangkok?

I love Bangkok. In short – Bangkok is a perfectly unperfect city that is one of my favourite travel destinations. Interestingly enough, I am not the only one. What is it exactly that makes it, so a great spot to visit? There are many things. Make no mistakes; you will not manage to see it all during one visit alone. It is a big city, and it will tyre you down. Bangkok is one of the major Asian and international transport hubs. That means that chances are of you visiting more than once. It could be for a short stop-over. Whatever, Let’s plan it together! Waterways of Bangkok!

Bangkok is Thailand’s never-sleeping capital, the Land of Smiles. Those travelling to Bangkok will need to quickly find the rhythm of the fast-paced city or be left in the wake. Those that embrace the chaotic good will have avenues open up that lead to a magical world of street food, boisterous markets, art, culture and an intricate story that once placed Bangkok at the centre of the world. 

Every country has their culinary scene, and each city has its specialties. However, the street food scene in Bangkok is different. The aromas float around every corner, greeting you with open arms as you explore the city. You never quite know what you’ll stumble upon each day, making your experience even more exciting and unpredictable. Suggesting going on a street-food binge was on my mind. However, this is a very specific type of tourism that will be left who are into this. One thing I can say – the food street in Bangkok is yummy. Is it safe? It is reasonable to say it is safe.


Once the home to Thai kings, the royal courts and later the nation’s government, the Grand Palace has played many roles. But the stunning architecture and golden spires that shimmer under the Thai sun makes it a must-visit. 

Grand Palace

The Grand Palace was built under the rule of King Rama. The three-year construction was completed in 1785. It was then that the capital of Thailand was moved to Bangkok from Thonburi. You can enjoy a dazzling view of the palace from many parts of the city, with its enormous complex of temples, statues and bell-shaped towers on full display. As you approach the Grand Palace, much of that is covered by the thick walls. But upon entering, you’ll be amazed by the sheer scale of the palace, its ornate architecture, gilded woodwork and the mix of red, white and gold.

One of the highlights of the Grand Palace is What Phra Kaew. This is where you’ll find the impressive emerald statue of Buddha. Like all temples and sacred places in Thailand, you should dress modestly with shoulders and knees covered. 

You should plan this visit to The Grand Palace as an all-day event. An all-day event is an all-time between breakfast and (late) lunch. You can feel free to plan more events, of course. However, I prefer to see things in a relaxed manner.


The Chao Phraya River is the main waterway through Bangkok. The bustling space is laden with boats, ferries and cruises taking goods, guests and everything else up and down. So exploring the city on a boat is as easy as it is scenic. It is often an underrated (and cheap) way to see a different side of Bangkok along its many canals.

Bangkok travel guide - waterways
<em>A local ferry on the Saen Saep canal<em>

Forget taking public transport or dealing with rush hour traffic through the heart of downtown. Take to the Saen Saep canal that runs through the city’s centre. Public boats run up and down, forming another aspect of Bangkok’s various public transport systems. 

Along the canal, you’ll pass temples, such as the soaring Wat Saket, local markets and shops, and Khao San Road. Because it’s popular among locals, it’s an authentic way to get from A to B while enjoying a pleasant cruise with the wind providing natural air-conditioning.

Tickets can be purchased on board, and cost between 10 and 20 baht, depending on your destination.


Exploring the Chao Phraya River is a must on any trip to Bangkok. It is a chance to witness Bangkok’s impressive skyline while navigating several waterfront communities, temples and attractions. There are many ways to do this, and in typical Thai fashion, budget travellers are well represented.

Bangkok waterways - travel guide

Public boats run along the river in either direction, providing an inexpensive cruise between bustling markets, Thonburi, Grand Palace and north towards Khao San Road. There are also stops where you can connect to the BTS Skytrain creating an efficient network.

To make the most of the experience, start towards the north or south ends of the river. Because it has access to the Skytrain and is closer to downtown, it’s usually easier to begin a Sathorn Pier. From there, jump on a boat heading to the right. As you make your way up the river, you’ll be able to admire the many skyscrapers, golden wats located along the banks and the general chaotic excitement that is quintessential Bangkok.

There are 25 stops along the Chao Phraya River. Be sure to check the destinations of your specific line before boarding. The tourist boat (blue line) has an unlimited single-day pass for 60 baht.

Important points about waterways in Bangkok

Bangkok’s waterways are divided into 3 parts:

  1. The main Chao Phraya River
  2. Klong Saen Saeb – cuts across Bangkok city from east to west
  3. Klongs of Thonburi – a network of canals on the opposite side of the river

There are 6 main types of boats:

  1. River taxis (also called Express Boats)
  2. Long-tail boats
  3. River-crossing ferry
  4. Canal boats
  5. Private river cruise
  6. Hotel shuttle boats

There are 5 types of Express Boat River Taxis:

  1. No flag (Local Line) – stops at every Pier
  2. Blue Flag Line (tourist boat) – stops whenever you want
  3. Orange Flag Line – stops at the main piers
  4. Yellow Flag Line – large express boat for commuters
  5. Green Flag Line – express boat for commuters

Long-tail boats are like tuk-tuks on water. These narrow yellow boats can be rented privately. You can negotiate the cost with the driver, but we highly recommend booking a tour for convenience.

Sathorn Central Pier is directly in front of Saphan Taksin BTS Skytrain Station, providing shuttles from the riverside to the rest of the city.

Many people ask what the best time of the year to visit Bangkok is. My answer is – any time. However, weather and some other considerations are essential when planning your travel. I have the answer to your question about the best time to visit Bangkok here.

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