There are many ways to get around in the city of Bangkok, Thailand. Along with sky-trains and subways, you can take a boat along its canals. This is intended as a form of transportation used by the local people to go to work and school, but you can ride the boats for the sheer experience. It gives you an opportunity to see some sites otherwise missed. Start along one of the piers in the city. The canals wind through most of Bangkok, so you can ask your hotel for the closest pier. The first boat trip will start in one of the canals, and will end at the Chao Phraya river. The cost is 18 baht (about 65 cents).
The boats are long tail skiffs, and fit about 60 people. If you’re lucky, it won’t be too crowded. You only have one or two few minutes to get aboard the boat. The boat driver will start moving the boat quickly, and the deck hand will pull a rope to raise a tarp on both sides. This will protect you from the spray of water, as these boats go very fast. The seats are just wood planks, similar to a row boat’s seats.
Alternatively, you can take a sky-train to the Saphan Taksin pier and start there with the bigger boat.
When you reach Saphan Taksin pier, you get off the skiff and get onto a new boat. This boat is bigger and moves slower. The seats are more comfortable, padded, and sit higher. The cost will be about $1. From here, the boat moves slowly up river and there is no need for a protective tarp. You can see a lot of great sites, Buddhist temples, statues and monuments along the river. Get off at any stop you like, when you see a market or anything that looks interesting. This boat will stop about every 7 minutes.
Don’t be alarmed if you see pythons, giant lizards or large fish in the river. When the northern provinces flood, I’ve seen some amazing creatures get washed down toward the city. None of these will hurt you. They are just looking for smaller creatures in the water. Still… don’t fall in. The weather is always nice in Bangkok, and the breeze off the river will make it even more pleasant. Sit back and enjoy the sites.
The last stop of the express line is the Nonthaburi stop, where you can find an impressive market. This is one of the largest markets in Bangkok. Part of it is outdoors, and part of the market is covered. There are also some nice places to eat here, specializing in grilled seafood and vegetables. There is a floating restaurant just right of the pier, worth trying.
You can take another boat all the way to Ayuthaya, the former capital of Thailand. This will take almost 2 hours, but will be worth the trip if you spend one night there too. If you’re not into such a long trip, just get off at Nonthaburi, or wherever you feel comfortable.
For the trip back, you can retrace your route by boat. Alternatively, just take a taxi or sky-train back to the hotel. At the end of a long day of adventuring, you might want a quicker return back home to shower and get ready for the evening. Most of these boats only travel from 6 am until 8pm. They consider it too dangerous to sail after dark. Try an evening boat ride on a larger dinner cruise ship, which you can catch right there from the Saphan pier where you caught the 2nd boat. The large ships cruise all night long.