Bangkok’s river has always been and will always be the bloodline of Bangkokians. For hundreds of years, the Chao Phraya has provided all that is required for locals to live and it has driven the original settlement to prosper into present day Bangkok.
Aptly named “Mae Nam Chao Phraya” the river is the original nurturer of Bangkokians. In Thai, “Mae Nam” is a generic term for a river with “Mae” signifying mother and “Nam” water. The Thai royal and noble title “Chao Phraya” may be translated as “Grand Duke”. The two terms together truly reflect the reverence Thais have for this river and it continues to play an important role in the lives of locals.
Bangkok traces its origins back to the 15th century when it began as a small village under the rule of the original capital of Siam, Ayutthaya. Early settlers chose the original site because of the land’s fertility and the water’s abundance of fish.
The source of the Chao Phraya is in the north of Thailand where the Ping, Wang, Yom and Nan rivers merge to form an inlet at Paknam Pho District in Nakorn Sawan Province. It flows southwards through Uthai Thani, Chai Nat, Sing Buri, Ang Thong, Ayutthaya, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi and Bangkok before reaching the Gulf of Thailand in Samut Prakarn province.
The city has expanded far beyond the river’s banks, and like all thriving urban centres of the world, Bangkok has transformed much since its birth. However, locals still live, work, and play along the Chao Phraya with an estimated of 50,000 people using the ferries every day.