Exploring Bangkok by boat is a fantastic way to see the charm of the city. I want to share with you our experience while traveling the Chao Phraya River, a major river in Thailand. With majestic sites and attractions lined up on both banks of the Chao Phraya River, getting around Bangkok by boat is a great way to sightsee and moving around the city.
There are so many different boats on the river, so it is important to understand their function. As we researched, we found out that there are different functions of the boats. The river taxis also called Express Boats, the long tail boats, and river-crossing ferries. Oh yeah, there are also canal boats, private river cruises and hotel shuttle boats; no wonder there are so many boats on the Chao Phraya river.
The express boat taxis have flags on them. I was wondering what they meant, so I asked around. If the boat does not have a flag, it stops at every pier; the orange flag means it stops at the main piers, the green and yellow flag is a commuter boat for locals. Important to know if you are visiting Bangkok.
Long-tail boats are like tuk-tuks on water. These narrow yellow boats are generally rented privately. You can negotiate the cost with the driver, and you can even book the tour early. The ferries get you from one side of the river to the other.
Let me share with you our boat ride. It took us around a loop allowing us to experience how people lived along the river. We saw temples, schools and passed many bridges. It was a great way to get first-hand experience of seeing how some in this community live. A fun day for both of us exploring our surroundings.
We developed a video so you can experience it too.
Ok, next we tried getting around town with tuk-tuks, oh boy what crazy rides we had. Honestly, the first time I rode one, I thought I might not see another day, but I did. Tuk-tuks, buses, taxies, cars, motorcycles, and even bikes jostle for a spot on the road. When you first get in one, the traffic around you is a bit overwhelming and overstimulating but you get used to it. We liked getting around on a tuk-tuk which is the most economical way to get around town. There are thousands of tuk-tuks around town, many trying to flag you down to give you a ride. We generally used “Leo” our friendly driver. He would be waiting for us in the same spot every day. Tuk-tuks get you around town, but not out of town.
Traffic is crazy here in Bangkok. They say it is the worst traffic in the world (from CNN 2017 story), especially in rush hour. We got stuck at a red light for 30 minutes in our tuk-tuk. So we decided to discover what the BTS (Sky Train) and MRT (subway) were. Both rapid transits were built to solve some of the traffic problems in Bangkok. They are cost-effective and help you save time while getting around Bangkok. BTS is a Skytrain that run across Bangkok from North to South East area. MRT is a subway that runs along with the main road in Bangkok. Both have an air conditioning system with comfy chairs (if you can find one), which keeps you comfortable from hot humid in Thailand. BTS and MRT are very popular transportation of the local commuters in the city.
You must be aware of the scams the taxi and tuk-tuk drivers do here in Bangkok; it has happened to us. So, by using the rapid transit system, you can easily avoid a scam and confusing bus system. Yes, they do have buses but with the traffic jams, you can’t count on being on time for an appointment.