Thailand’s bustling capital Bangkok has many attractions, but a sightseeing tour along the Chao Phraya River is a feature that should be included in every visitor’s itinerary. This significant river provides water for a large part of the country, passing through Bangkok before emptying into the Gulf of Thailand. A cruise on this famous river exploring its canals and waterways is always an exciting and rewarding experience.
The numerous canals and rivers which are called khlong and maenam in the local tongue have traditionally played an important role in the transportation and communication of Bangkok. At the inception of the Rattanakosin era the city contained many canals so that it gained the moniker of ‘The Venice of the East’. In years past Thais first settled near the banks of the Chao Phraya and gradually spread into more distant parts of the country. Remnants of early Rattanakosin era architecture may still be seen in the environs of the river.
Today the Chao Phraya and its canals are a tranquil retreat from the hectic pace of life in the modern city. Tourists may avail themselves of the opportunity to take a scenic boat ride along the expansive river. Visitors will glimpse numerous majestic temples and other buildings of note such as the Royal Thai Navy Dockyard, the First Presbyterian Church, the Thai Maritime Navigation Company, the Royal Boat House and the Old Customs House.
The small island of Koh Kret situated within the river is another popular tourist destination. The Pottery Village is always interesting to visit; visitors will be able to observe at first hand the entire process of pottery making. Villagers may be seen creating flowerpots, pots and mortars in the traditional manner.
Of the picturesque temples seen in Koh Kret several are noteworthy. These include the Wat Phal Lom, with its splendid Ayutthaya style ordination hall; the historically significant Wat Paramal Ylkawat with its marble Buddha statue constructed in the Mon style; and the Wat Sao Thong Thong, with its venerated Ayutthaya style pagoda.