How to Get Around Bangkok by River Boat and Ferry (Local & Tourist Ways)

How to Get Around Bangkok by River Boat and Ferry (Local & Tourist Ways)

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How to escape Bangkok’s crazy traffic jam and overpriced BTS & MRT? Get on a boat!

If you are a first timer in Bangkok, your first choice of getting around the city is probably taxi, train or bus. Granted, they’re all more convenient than boats.

River boat is a robust and affordable transportation method in Bangkok that is not well-known and adopted by tourists yet.

As a huge proponent of DIY travel, I encourage you to learn about Bangkok’s boat system so that you can make the best decision about what type of public transportation to use when you’re in Bangkok.

After all, what’s not to love about Bangkok’s boats? It’s cheaper and way faster than taxis, trains and tuk-tuk (during peak hours).

1. Local Canal Boats (Khlong Saen Saep)

Bangkok local canal boat Khlong Saen Saep
Khlong Saen Saep, Bangkok local canal boat

What is Khlong Saen Saep?

It’s a local canal boat that serves the area between Wat Sriboonreung and Phanfa Bridge (where Wat Saket, the Golden Mount temple is located at).

Basically, locals commute from home to work with this boat.

Bangkok local canal boat Khlong Saen Saep

Famous areas served by this boat include:

  • Ramnueng Pier (near Ramkhamhaeng Station of the Airport Rail Link)
  • Asok (near Phetchaburi MRT Station & Makkasan Station of the Airport Rail Link)
  • Pratu Nam (near Central World and Pratunam Market)
  • Phanfa Bridge (here, you can take short bus ride to Grand Palace)

Opening hour is from 5.30 am to 8.30 pm. So, if you’re out until after 8.30pm, boat is no longer an option. You might want to try bus, tuk tuk or taxi instead.

When should you use Khlong Saen Saep?

You should use this boat if your hotel is not near any BTS or MRT station, but near a boat station.

But, why would someone not stay near BTS/MRT station? Because hotels not near BTS/MRT usually offer more values for a cheaper price.

Bangkok local canal boat Khlong Saen Saep

How much does it cost?

Between 9 to 19 Bahts, depending on the distance. In comparison, a BTS ride costs between 16 to 59 Bahts.

When you tell the boat crew your destination, he or she will tell you the price. You can pay by cash only.

What are the routes?

This is the route of Khlong Saen Saep. Pratu Nam is the Interchange. So if you’re traveling beyond Pratu Nam, you need to change boat at Pratu Nam.

Bangkok local canal boat Khlong Saen Saep - route map
Khlong Saen Saep route map (click to enlarge)

How to take the boat?

First, use Google Maps to check the nearest boat station to your original location and your destination.

Then, wait at the pier. Make sure you have cash. Some stations serve boats for two directions, so wait for the right boat.

When the boat arrives, get on the boat carefully while holding the pole or ropes.

Bangkok local canal boat Khlong Saen Saep
Getting on and off the boat is a real challenge for non-locals

When the conductor comes, tell him or her your destination and pay your fare.

When the boat is approaching your destination, press the bell to signal that you’re going to get off.

Bangkok local canal boat Khlong Saen Saep
The bell at the ceiling

Tips for taking Khlong Saen Saep

Be very careful when entering and exiting the boat. Don’t rush. The boat will wait for everyone to settle down before leaving the pier.

Even though I noticed some locals wearing heels, I do not recommend anyone to wear heels. Standing still is hard enough on flat shoes!

Avoid rush hours if you can (between 7am to 10am and 5pm to 7pm) because the crowd is too big and there’s hardly room to breathe.

Bangkok local canal boat Khlong Saen Saep
Rush hour looks like this!

Do not expect personal space. You’ll be squeezed left and right. Don’t be selfish and take up a lot of space, though.

If you sit at the edge of the boat, you’re the expected volunteer to hold the plastic sheet to protect other passengers from the splashing river water.

2. Chao Phraya Express Boat

Bangkok Chao Phraya express boat

What is Chao Phraya?

Chao Phraya Express Boat is a famous boat service in Bangkok that serves commuters along Chao Phraya River.

It’s also a traveler’s favorite because it passes through the famous landmarks, such as Grand Palace, Wat Arun, Wat Pho, Khao San Road, Chinatown (at Rachawongse), Sathorn (Taksin) where you can connect to Saphan Taksin BTS Station, as well as the Asiatique The Riverfront.

Chao Phraya Express Boat is different from Chao Phraya Tourist Boat. I will get into details about the latter in the next section. For now, we will focus on the Express Boat that is cheaper and more flexible.

Bangkok Chao Phraya express boat

When should you use Chao Phraya?

You should use Chao Phraya when you are planning to visit famous landmarks around Chao Phraya River.

If you’re staying at the backpacker haven Khao San Road, this boat is the perfect transport system to get to the famous landmarks that I mentioned earlier.

How much does it cost?

It depends on which line you’re on and the distance of your travel. In general, it’s between 9 to 32 Bahts.

What are the routes?

Bangkok Chao Phraya express boat route
Chao Phraya Express Boat route (source)

Chao Phraya Express Boat has 4 lines of service.

1. No-Flag Boat

The No-Flag boat is the cheapest (between 9 to 13 Bahts) but the slowest boat because it stops at every single station between Nonthaburi (Pibul 3) station and Asiatique.

2. Orange Flag Boat

Similar to No Flag, the Orange Flag boat serves the areas between Nonthaburi (Pibul 3) station and Asiatique, but skips a few stations. It costs a flat 15 Bahts per ride.

3. Yellow Flag

Yellow Flat boat serves the area between Nonthaburi (Pibul 3) station and Sathorn (Taksin). It doesn’t go to Asiatique and it skips more stations than Orange Flag. It costs a flat 20 Bahts per ride.

4. Green Flag

Green Flag boat serves the area between Pakkret (further north from Nonthaburi Pibul 3) and Sathorn (Taksin). It costs between 13 to 32 Bahts a ride.

Bangkok Chao Phraya express boat

How to take the boat?

Go to the pier and have some cash ready. Certain piers have counter where you need to buy a ticket first before you can enter the pier. Meanwhile, at other piers, you can pay when you’re on the boat.

If you’re lucky, sit down on the available benches. If not, then grab a pole and stand firmly on the boat.

Tips for taking Chao Phraya

If you’re not sure whether the boat at the pier is the right boat to get to your destination, ask the locals or conductor. If they can’t understand you, type out the name of your destination on your phone and show them.

Bangkok Chao Phraya express boat

If you just want to cross the river to the other side, eg: from Grand Palace to Wang Lang Market, you can take the river crossing boats (instead of Chao Phraya boat) because they are cheaper. It costs only 3 to 5 Bahts to cross with river-crossing boats.

Then again, Chao Phraya Express Boat is considered quite cheap so if you mistakenly take Chao Phraya to cross the river, you’ll probably end up paying 20 Bahts (less than 1 USD) which is not a lot for tourists from developed countries.

Similar to Canal boats, be very careful when entering and exiting the boat.

3. Chao Phraya Tourist Boat

Chao Phraya tourist boat
Chao Phraya Tourist Boat (source)

What is Chao Phraya Tourist Boat?

Also known as Blue Flag, the Chao Phraya Tourist Boat is a boat that runs every 30 minutes between Phra Arthit (Khao San Road) and Saphorn (Taksin).

In the late afternoon (between 4 to 6pm), the boat also goes further south from Saphorn (Taksin) to Asiatique.

The operating hours of Chao Phraya Tourist Boat is from 9.30am to 8.30pm.

When should you use Chao Phraya Tourist Boat?

If you’re staying at Khao San road and you want visit the following famous landmarks in one day.

  • Royal Barge National Museum (at Thonburi Railway stop)
  • Grand Palace (at Tha Maharaj stop)
  • Wat Phra Kaew, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (at Tha Maharaj stop)
  • Wat Arun
  • Wat Pho (opposite of Wat Arun)
  • Flower Market (at Pakklong Taladd stop)
  • Chinatown (at Ratchawongse stop)
  • Lhong 1919
  • Iconsiam
  • Asiatique
Chao Phraya tourist boat
Wat Arun is one of the stops of tourist boat

How much does it cost?

1. All Day All Night Pass (300 Baht)
Unlimited rides during the operating hours of the boat (9am to 8.30pm) on the purchase date. The best option for those who want to cover all of the places in 1 day.

It depends on what ticket you want to buy. There are 4 types of tickets.

2. One-Day River Pass (200 Baht)
Unlimited rides between 9am to 5.30pm on the purchase date. Best for early risers.

3. One-Night River Pass (200 Baht)
Unlimited rides between 3pm to 8.30pm on the purchase date. Best for those who hate the sun.

4. Single-journey Ticket (60 Baht)
Only for one-time use. If you need to ride for another time, you need to purchase another ticket.

What are the routes?

Chao Phraya tourist boat route
Chao Phraya Tourist Boat Route (source)

Tips for taking Chao Phraya

Before taking your first ride, purchase your tickets at the counter located at the pier.

You can also purchase online from their official website, but you must exchange the e-ticket to physical ticket only at 2 locations (Sathorn and Maharaj pier). Sometimes they have promotions on their website so do check their website before your trip.

4. River Crossing Ferry

Bangkok river crossing ferry

What is River Crossing Ferry?

Also known as Ferry Crossing Service, this ferry serves commuters who want to cross the river to the other side.

Examples:
– between Grand Palace and Wang Lang
– between Wat Arun and Wat Pho

How much does it cost?

Between 3 to 5 Bahts. It’s really cheap!

Bangkok river crossing ferry

Tips for taking River Crossing Boat

In order to know whether there’s any ferry crossing service at a pier, you can check Google Maps. If there’s a dotted line that connects a pier to the pier that’s across the river, it means there is a ferry crossing service.

When you’re already at the pier, look for signs that says “Ferry Crossing Service” or something like that. When in doubt, always ask the locals.

5. Long Tail Boat

Long Tail Boat isn’t exactly a public transportation in Bangkok. It’s a private boat that can be hired to bring you around places of your choice.

Hiring a long tail boat is expensive. But it gives you the freedom to travel at your own pace.

To hire a long tail boat, head to Sathorn (Taksin) pier. Since there’s no fixed route and price, you need to discuss your itinerary with the boat driver and haggle.

Personally, I do not recommend taking long tail boat because there’s a risk of being scammed. I advise that you stick with public boat instead because it’s cheaper and the route is clear.

6. River Cruises

Bangkok Chao Phraya Princess River Cruise

Technically, Bangkok’s river cruise isn’t exactly a transportation method to get you from Point A to Point B.

However, it is a fantastic way to see Bangkok in the evening when the night lights are out.

The cruises typically include dinner, so it’s a great way to bond with your friends and family members, or to wind down after a hectic day of traveling.

There are so many companies that provide river cruise in Bangkok. Below are some of the most popular river cruises in Bangkok.

1. Chao Phraya Princess Cruise
2. Supanniga Cruise
3. Apsara Dinner Cruise by Banyan Tree
4. Grand Pearl Dinner Cruise
5. Chao Phraya White Orchid River Cruise

Bangkok Chao Phraya Princess River Cruise
Me, taking the Chao Phraya Princess Cruise in 2012
Bangkok Chao Phraya Princess River Cruise
Love the view during golden hour
Bangkok Chao Phraya Princess River Cruise
Bangkok Chao Phraya Princess River Cruise
How to Get Around Bangkok by River Boat and Ferry

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you make any purchase through my links, I will receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thank you for your support 🙂

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Amazing article, helped me a lot to plan my visit to Bangkok, thank you very much! 🙂

    1. Glad it’s helpful 🙂

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