The Chao Phraya River and Chinatown

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To get to Chinatown (Yaowarat) Bangkok, the fastest way is via the boat ride, since it avoids traffic and it’s cheap. First, we took the BTS to Saphan Taksin, and once we’re out from the station we followed the crowd and saw Sathorn Pier barely 3 minutes away. At the pier though, it could be confusing because there are several private boat companies offering boat rides for tourists and there’s also the Chao Phraya Express Boat Service (taxi), which is referred to as the ‘boat taxi’. We have been there twice and during our first time, we blindly bought tickets from a counter at the pier for 25  baht/single trip. Looking back, we found out that we’ve actually bought tickets from the Chao Phraya Tourist Boat, which charged a higher price especially to the tourists. The local boat taxi doesn’t require you to buy a ticket at the pier, but only collects the fare on the boat itself, for a cheap 15 baht!

Grand Palace

One of the boats from Peninsula Hotel, Bangkok

Bangkok Taxi Fare

Price of taxi fare in Bangkok

Grand Palace

Chao Phraya Express Boat Service at Sathorn Pier

Being newbies in the first visit, we were anxious of missing the boat so we bought tickets at the first counter that we saw. That was a mistake. The only counter that collects money at the pier is for tourist boats. The Chao Phraya Tourist Boat charges 25 baht for a single trip and a whopping 150 baht for unlimited trips along the Chao Phraya River. The only difference between this boat and the taxi boat is that it came with a tour guide who talked about the Bangkok attractions during the journey. Also, since it’s more expensive, the boat was relatively empty with more seats to go around.

Grand Palace

Chao Phraya Tourist Boat

Grand Palace

25 baht for single trip

Grand Palace

Chao Phraya Tourist Boat

Grand Palace

More empty seats at the tourist boat

During our second trip though, we were more alert and found out the way to take the local boat taxi instead. We were asked to wait at the waiting area nearby the signage below (Sathorn) and were told that the taxi would come in 20 minutes time. You could see many locals and some seasoned tourists waiting patiently at the pier for the taxi to come. Once it arrived, all of us flocked towards to the boat and it was filled to the brim within seconds! There was a conductor who went around collecting fares from the passengers, a mere 15 baht per person. To me, the boat ride was just the same as the tourist boat that we took last time, but at a much cheaper rate.

Bangkok

Wait for the boat taxi near this sign

Bangkok

The local boat taxi at 15 baht/ride

To get to Chinatown, we had to alight at Ratchawong Pier, which is Pier No. 5. If you are taking the boat taxi, do get ready and walk to the boat exit one pier before your destination to avoid missing the station. Since the taxi was crowded with passengers, it was quite a challenge to move about especially if you are sitting near the front of the boat. We only started to move to the exit at the pier itself and almost couldn’t make it out of the boat! When you’re in the boat though, don’t forget to enjoy the ride and scenery – they can be quite gorgeous.

Millenium Hilton Bangkok

The Millenium Hilton Hotel from afar

Millenium Hilton Bangkok

The Millenium Hilton Hotel

Chao Phraya River

View from the boat

Chao Phraya River

Some flats along the river

Chao Phraya River

Saucer with flag of Thailand

Chao Phraya River

Another majestic building by the river

Chao Phraya River

More shop houses

Wat Arun

The gorgeous Wat Arun

Wichai Prasit

Wichai Prasit Fort

Royal Thai Navy Headquarters

Royal Thai Navy Headquarters

Chao Phraya River

One of the piers

We got down at Ratchawong Pier (barely!) and saw the map of the Chinatown area. From the pier, we walked for a couple of hundred meters and saw a narrow lane on our right, filled with colourful shops and packed with people. We thought, that must be it! And so, we joined the crowd and immersed ourselves among the stalls and stalls selling all kinds of accessories, bags, leather goods, shoes, clothes, household items, bed sheets, you name it! Oh, and don’t forget the multitude of street food stalls along the way too. It’s such a narrow lane that when someone stopped to buy food, half of the lane would have been blocked.

Chinatown area map

Chinatown area map

Chinatown Bangkok

Towards Chinatown

Chinatown Bangkok

Colourful mobile phone straps

Chinatown Bangkok

Street food rules!

Chinatown Bangkok

More stalls – handphone accessories, hats, pouches, etc

And if you’re (un)lucky, you would encounter motorcycles and trolleys carrying goods along the narrow lane. Once they come  by, the whole lane would have been blocked and you would have no choice but to escape into the stalls to avoid getting squeezed by them!

Chinatown Bangkok

Coming through!

Chinatown Bangkok

Accessories and crafts

We spent only an hour or so in Chinatown since we were in a rush to go back, and to me, that wasn’t enough! There’s still so much more to see and experience there, especially the temple (Wat Traimit) and the BBQ skewers. This area is so alive and vibrant, it makes one feel happy just being a part of it. :)

Chinatown Bangkok

The crowded boat taxi

*Note: Read the rest of my Bangkok Escapade here!

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Comments

  1. says

    oh, so you were missing from blogsphere and was in Bangkok!! hehe, i didn’t know we can take the boat to chinatown, last time just took taxi~~ i think it’s nice to cruise along the river, especially a lot of the attraction spots lies beside the banks of the rivers..

    • says

      LOL! I was in Bangkok earlier this year actually, but only had the chance to blog about it now. :P So now you know you can take the boat to Chinatown, it’s cheaper and you get to avoid the traffic jam!

  2. says

    Was there many years ago. At least they’ve nicer boats now. The Oriental Bangkok still there? It was one of the top hotels in the world at the time…and very expensive.

  3. Robert Walters says

    Thank you so much for sharing these wonderful pictures. This post should be very helpful for a visit to Chinatown.

    -Robert

  4. says

    ooo, i saw those tourist boats on the river while i was in bangkok, and was wondering what it’d be like to be on them! i did manage to visit the wat arun temple though, and it was really lovely :D

    • says

      Really? I thought BKK air fare should be quite cheap.. :( Maybe many people are going there for the CNY break. Well I’m sure there will be cheap fares coming soon!

  5. Michaelsieng says

    i’m interesting to have dinner in Chao Phraya river….but I want to cheapest one,….no need buffet, so can you give me some information about that

  6. michaelsing says

    Yes, i’m looking for dinner along the river but the cheapest one. I search on web but all is expensive for dinner is 1200-1500 baht so i’m looking for the cheapest hehe
    u said taxi boat is only 150 baht?
    it is only one way or two way ( go and back again )
    thanks

  7. Patricia Wong says

    Hi, thank you for your blog . it was most helpful and comprehension and detailed. Your blog answered all the questions I had in mind. Just 1 question though, I will be going to Bangkok next week and plan to visit Wat Pho and Wat Arun and then head on to China Town.

    From Wat Pho, which colour flag boat taxi should I take? I know I have to take the orange one from Sathorn Pier to Wat Pho.

    And when coming back, what colour boat to take from Ratchawong Pier to Sathorn Pier? would it be easier to take a cap from Chinatown? Thank you

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