The Chao Phraya Express Boat is a good alternative means of transportation to try out and experience when visiting Bangkok, Thailand. The Chao Phraya Express provides transportation along the Chao Phraya River that goes through downtown Bangkok. When you want to visit the area near Wat Pho and the Grand Palace, you can’t take the Skytrain or the MRT there, but there are piers nearby where the Chao Phraya Express Boats stop. The locals use the boat as well for commuting, especially those who live on one side of the river and work at the other side.
Our experience to take the boat was when we traveled from our hotel Bangkok Loft Inn in Thonburi to the Grand Palace area. The hotel manager suggested that we took the Skytrain and then connected to the Chao Phraya Express Boat as an economic way to go (the alternative would be to take a cab). We thought that would be an adventure in itself to learn about the public transportation in the city.
When we arrived at the Sathorn Central Ferry Pier, we were unsure about where to go and what to do, as most signs were written in Thai. I did remember our hotel manager mentioning about the boat having a flag to indicate its route (more like which one stops at the destination you’re going to), and we generally knew the direction that we’re going (northbound on the river). So when a boat came with the flag color that we’re looking for, we just followed other passengers on board. We had not bought any ticket, and didn’t see any place to purchase tickets, and no one around seemed to speak English. So we just went on board, and we thought we just figure it out then. It turned out that it was the right thing to do. There was a lady on the board walking around collecting the fee and giving each passenger a little paper ticket. We just gave her the money, and she gave us the ticket and change in return.
The photo below was taken on the boat. You can see it’s a wooden boat, and it’s quite orderly and quite clean on board. Most people were commuters, mixed with some western tourists (they stood out with their more casual attires and cameras). The boat ride itself was quite nice, it provided a different vantage point to observe the daily life in the city of Bangkok.