The Chao Phraya River is the heart of Bangkok and the riverside one of its most charismatic areas from which you can explore the city from the water or watch the world go by on its riverbanks.
Although the Chao Phraya River stretches through Bangkok, the area of most interest to visitors lies in central Bangkok, where the river borders the royal island of Rattanakosin and the opposite riverbank is full of attractions.
This part of the city is home to some of the city’s most luxurious hotels and most impressive temples, along with several other landmarks. Accessible by BTS and riverboat, getting around the riverside area is pretty easy, even for a first time visitor. Make sure that you don’t miss the opportunity to take one of Thailand’s iconic long-tail boats or perhaps opt for a more sedate cruise up to the ancient city of Ayutthaya.
We offer just a few things to find along the river, whether you’re after a museum, a traditional Thai massage, or looking for a shopaholic experience, Bangkok’s riverside has it all.
Wat Arun also known as the “Temple of Dawn” is an impressive riverside temple dating back to the Ayutthaya Kingdom. Reaching Wat Arun from the river is easy: take the Express Boat to Tha Tien Pier (N8), then take the cross-river ferry to the temple.
Wat Prayoon is a white Buddhist temple located on the Thonburi side of the river. Quiet and far less crowded than Wat Arun, the grounds of Wat Prayoon contain ponds with turtles and catfish. Take the Express Boat to Memorial Bridge (N6) then cross the bridge to arrive.
Asiatique: The Riverfront offers riverfront shopping and dining in a location that’s easy to access from all of the riverside hotels. Hundreds of stalls, a Ferris wheel and riverside dining make this a fun destination for families. Take the free shuttle boat from Sathorn Pier (CEN).
East Asiatic Company Building was built in 1901. The old Bangkok headquarters of the East Asiatic Company stand out from the huge luxury hotels that dominate the Chao Phraya area. Currently unused, the East Asiatic Company Building is fun to spot while you travel along the river from Sathorn Pier.
Assumption Cathedral Bangkok is obviously better known for its Buddhist temples than its Catholic cathedrals, but the beautiful Assumption Cathedral—located on Charoen Krung Soi 40—is worth a visit if you’re staying near the river.
Siriraj Medical Museum If you have a weak stomach, it’s best to avoid Siriraj Medical Museum. If not, you’ll enjoy visiting this fairly morbid museum, which contains everything from embalmed corpses, including that of the cannibalistic Thai serial killer, Si Quey, to Elephantiasis-infected body parts.
Thai Massage and Spas The Riverside area is home to several of Bangkok’s most luxurious hotel spas, as well as an assortment of inexpensive Thai massage shops. Try Nemita Spa for something special.
Khlong Tours While the Chao Phraya River is usually busy with traffic all day, most of the khlongs (canals) on the Thonburi side of the river reflect a quieter side of Bangkok life. Pandan Tours offers a great canal tour that lets you see Bangkok’s ancient waterway transport system up close.
Getting to Riverside
By BTS: Sathorn Pier, the central pier for the Chao Phraya Express Boat, is a short walk from Saphan Taksin BTS Station. Most of the high-end hotels along the river run a free shuttle boat to and from the Sathorn Pier.
By River Boat: Almost all of the top sights along the riverside can be reached on the Chao Phraya Express Boat. Oriental (N1) and Si Phraya (N3) piers cover most of the Silom/Riverside area, while Tha Chang Pier (N9) provides easy access to Rattanakosin and the Grand Palace.