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Approximately 6 miles (10 km) north of Bangkok, Nonthaburi offers a relaxing slice of provincial life. The town is best reached by riverboat from one of Bangkok’s express piers. The journey takes 50 minutes and offers several interesting sights, the first of which is the Royal Boat House near Wat Sam Phraya pier, where some of the royal barges are kept. Others are housed at the Royal Barge Museum in Thon Buri. Past the Krung Thon Bridge is a small community of rice barges on the east bank, and shortly before Nonthaburi pier is Wat Khian, a temple that is half-submerged in the river.

Nonthaburi has a pleasant, provincial atmosphere that contrasts with the chaos and pollution of the capital just down the river. The town is particularly well known for the quality of its durian fruit (see p137) – reflected in the unusual decoration of the lampposts on the promenade. You may find the famously smelly fruit for sale in Nonthaburi’s colorful, lively market by the side of the river. A round-trip boat ride from Nonthaburi along Khlong Om will take you on a slowpaced journey through durian plantations and past riverside houses. The tiny river island of Ko Kret, accessible only by boat, is home to a community of craftsmen, who are famous for their distinctive style of pottery. Another worthwhile excursion from Nonthaburi is the river journey to Wat Chalerm Phrakiet, on the west bank of the Chao Phraya. The wat occupies the site of a 17th-century fortress, built by Rama III in the 19th century for his mother.

A particularly striking feature is the intricate detailing, including porcelain tilework, on the doors, gables, and window frames of the bot. Behind is a chedi, added by Rama IV. The grounds have Chinese-style wooden statues, including one of Santa Claus.

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