Bangkok is mind-blowing. Negotiating the city at street level is a mix of audio and visual overload as you try and get a look at Thailand life in action. It was with this in mind that we decided to take a more relaxed approach and purchase a ticket for the Chao Phraya River tourist boat.
The boat takes visitors on a circuit of nine piers along the river, where you can depart to visit the surrounding areas. Running from 9.30 in the morning until 3 in the afternoon we headed out early in order to get the most out of our 150 baht ticket.
Our hotel was not far from the Sathorn Pier, the beginning of the route and one of the places where you can purchase tickets. Sathorn Pier is also convenient for the Bangkok Skytrain which takes you into the city centre.
We headed up river to the Maharaj Pier which was around a ten minute walk to the imposing Grand Palace.
Maharaj Pier and Bangkok's Grand PalaceThe palace wasn't well signposted so it was a case of following the crowd and hoping they were trying to reach the same destination.
Full of golden roofed buildings, the palace is quite impressive. The main feature is the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, a highly revered Buddha image carved from a single block of fine jade.
Cruising back down the river the thin boats whizzed by carrying collections of food or flowers for delivery. Arriving at the Tha Tien Pier we took a short stroll to Wat Pho, home to the Reclining Buddha.
Wat Pho - Home to the Reclining BuddhaWat Pho is smaller in comparison to the Grand Palace yet still attracts as many tourists. I was more impressed by the Reclining Buddha than anything at the palace due to how close you get to the statue.
Removing our footwear we took our time as we walked the full 160 foot length of the Buddha stopping occasionally to try and fit the statue into a photo frame.
Despite its size and the amount of visitors Wat Pho felt more peaceful and put is in a good mood as we strolled back towards the river.
What makes the Bangkok river boat so specialOn the way back to the pier a opportunistic local man was taking advantage of the passing foot traffic by selling a variety of juices and flowers.
One of the reasons I loved travelling by boat in Bangkok was for the piers. Walking along raised boards ducking for the low hanging beams above we walked over a rickety jetty to the floating pier. As we waited for the boat to arrive the pier gently rocked every time a boat skimmed the surface nearby.
We were joined by other tourists, the local elderly and a monk and it made me think how this pier would be a health and safety nightmare in the UK which made me love it even more. We need things to be different and not regimented to a set standard, nobody got hurt and it made it a much more enjoyable experience.
If you're in Bangkok and want to get a different view of the city then the river boat is definitely the way. Relatively cheap we found we didn't have to wait very long at any of the piers before the next boat came along. With a few more days I think I'd head over to some of the other piers and see what other historical sites Bangkok has to be proud of.
Have you been to Bangkok? How did you get around? Did you use the Chao Phraya River tourist boat?