Bangkok is an exciting city to visit and see the sights. It’s full of attractions that are both new and ancient. But it can be difficult getting around in Bangkok, especially if it’s your first time in the city and you’re unfamiliar with all the public transportation options.
Sightseeing by road should be avoided if at all possible. Bangkok’s notorious traffic is often at a standstill, and you’ll waste valuable time if you get stuck in it. But visitors who often make Bangkok a favored stop on their travel list know a little secret that avoids road traffic and makes accessing some of the city’s best-known attractions easy and fun.
Take Advantage of the River’s Water Taxis
The Chao Phraya River slowly winds through Bangkok and served as the transport hub of the city as it expanded outwards into the thriving metropolis it is today. The river still acts as a transportation hub, with water taxis, freighters and longtail boats traveling up and down the river.
As Bangkok was founded beside the river, its oldest and most iconic and revered attractions are along the river. You can easily travel to all the attractions by taking the water taxi line that’s been specifically set up for tourists.
Convenient Travel to Sights Along the River
Central Pier is very close to your hotel in the Sathorn area of Bangkok. It’s at the bottom of Sathorn Road on the river. The Saphan Taksin BTS station is right above the pier for visitors who have discovered the rapid rail transit systems of the city.
When you first visit the pier, it can be somewhat confusing. There will be passengers constantly embarking and disembarking from the boats that pull up momentarily to the pier. There are also many ticket kiosks on the pier, all selling tickets for different water taxi lines. But the lines are all color-coded, and all you need to do is head for the blue-flagged kiosk.
This is the kiosk selling tickets for the tourist water taxi line. The water taxi line has been set up to stop at every pier along the river. They also have some English-speaking employees in the kiosks and on the boats to answer questions for tourists.
Buying a one-day ticket on the blue line allows you to ride the water taxis as often as you want during the hours of operation and to hop on and off the boats at any pier that catches your fancy.
This is the fastest and most economical way to see every attraction along the river. It’s also a lot of fun to see Bangkok from the water. You can ride the water taxis from sun-up to sundown giving you plenty of time to enjoy a full day of sightseeing.
Must-see Attractions Along the River
Riding the water taxis allows you easy access to the “Big-3” attractions of the city. These attractions are some of the oldest and most revered Royal and Buddhist sites in Thailand, and they should not be missed.
Wat Arun (the Temple of the Dawn) is easily the most photographed icon of Bangkok. To reach it from the water taxi piers, get off at Tien Pier (N8). A smaller ferry is there and will take you across the river to Wat Arun pier. The ferry costs 4 Baht, and you just pay on the ferry. Wat Arun has an entry ticket price of 100 Baht.
Wat Pho is also near Tien Pier. Simply follow the well-placed English signs, and the Wat, with its famous large golden reclining Buddha, is just a few minutes’ walk from the pier. Wat Pho also has a ticket price of 100 Baht.
The next pier north of Tien Pier is Tha Maharaj Pier (N9). This is the pier closest to the Grand Palace. You can see the Grand Palace from the pier, and it’s just a few minutes’ walk to the entrance. The Grand Palace has a ticket price of 500 Baht.
Please remember that all of these sites are sacred to Buddhists, and visitors must wear proper attire during their visit. This means long pants for men and skirts or pants at least knee-length for women. Both genders must avoid wearing shirts or tops that expose their shoulders. You’ll be expected to remove your shoes when entering the most sacred areas of the attractions.
Favorite Modern Attractions
The riverside area also has a wealth of modern attractions where you can shop and eat to your heart’s content. One of the most famous is Bangkok’s Chinatown, where you can wander the streets and markets and find bargains on silk, jewelry, spices, electronics and practically anything you can think of.
Hop off the water taxi at Rachawongse Pier (N5) and follow the crowds until you pick up the mouth-watering aromas of street food.
To visit one of the other major contemporary attractions along the river, you’ll have to take the water taxi back to Sathorn (Central Pier). There you’ll board the free ferry to Asiatique.
A visit to Asiatique should be left till last. Asiatique is a development of shops, restaurants and entertainment attractions in old converted warehouses from the 1900s. The development features a Ferris wheel and a tall ship tied up to the pier, which visitors can tour.
But the main draw of Asiatique is riverside dining in one of the many delicious restaurants. Relaxing with a cold drink while you await a seafood meal and gazing out at the sunset on the water is an ample reward for the sightseeing effort you put in that day. The ferry to Asiatique runs until 11 PM, so you can relax and enjoy your dinner by the river.
The next time you’re planning a trip to Bangkok, book a room at the Amanta Hotel and Residence Sathorn. You’ll have easy access to Central Pier and can spend your holiday touring the sights of the city by water taxi instead of stuck in Bangkok’s notorious traffic.