A River View of Bangkok



A River View of Bangkok

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The two great rivers of the North, the Ping and the Nan, join at Nakhon Sawan in the Central Plains to form the Chao Phraya (“river of kings”), Thailand’s most important waterway. This vital transportation link drains some of the country’s most fertile rice-growing land. The stretch shown here is actually a canal, built in the 16th century as a shortcut at a point where the Chao Phraya took a huge meander along what is now Khlong Bangkok Noi and Khlong Bangkok Yai. Along this busy “royal mile” you can catch glimpses of the Grand Palace, temples, and colonial buildings, and experience a flavor of old Bangkok’s colorful riverfront.

The Buddhaisawan Chapel in the National Museum is home to the Phra Buddha Sing, one of the most venerated Buddha images in Thailand after the Emerald Buddha. Elsewhere in the museum is a fabulous collection of arts and crafts from every period of Thai history. Exhibits include Buddha images, weapons, and pottery.

Wat Phra Kaeo contains one of Thailand’s most sacred Buddha images, the Emerald Buddha. The temple and palace complex is a superb collection of buildings with lavish decorative details.

Wat Pho, the city’s oldest temple, dates from the 17th century. It is famed for its school of massage, as well as for fine details such as this painting of a Chinese soldier.

Wat Rakhang is a little visited but rewarding temple containing fine murals painted in the 1920s.

The Memorial Bridge spans the Chao Phraya River, connecting traditional Thon Buri to the modern Downtown area.

Wat Arun is covered in pieces of broken porcelain. This Buddha image is outside the main bot.

Riverboats on the Chao Phraya

The Chao Phraya is a major transportation artery, for both goods and people. Hefty rice barges, tiny boats laden with fruit and vegetables, and a variety of ferry services continually ply the river. No visitor to Bangkok should miss seeing the city from the water, and jumping on the Chao Phraya Express is one of the easiest and cheapest ways to do so. The stops are indicated on the Street Finder (maps 1–2, 5–6). There are also cross-river ferries from almost every river pier, as well as countless long-tail boats that operate as buses or can be specially chartered to explore the city’s khlongs.

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