Forget the taxi rides, motorcycle tours and endless walking; how about hopping aboard a restored rice barge and going on a leisurely cruise? The expedition takes you from Bangkok, through the famous Chao Praya River to an ancient city, Ayutthaya. In fact, this is one of the most popular cruises from Bangkok, and it ought to be on top of your “to-do” list when you arrive in Thailand.
In ancient times, the Chao Praya River was one of the key routes which people used to get from place to place. This mammoth 372km river stretched all the way from Nakhon Sawan to the Gulf of Thailand. As a result, it connects a number of important cities and temples, making it your preferred option to take you on a memorable journey through Thailand’s rich history. The best part is that booking one of these cruises is a cinch, when you talk to the likes of Anantara Cruises. Thailand is best explored by barge, and you’ll have to jump on board to believe it.
Ayutthaya was the undisputed capital of the Siam empire for over four hundred years. Today, you will take the same route that ancient kings and their kinsmen used to pay homage to an array of temples located on the banks of Chao Praya.
One of your first stops is the Kalayanamit Varamahavihara Temple. Its 19th century Chinese architecture and white stucco walls make it recognisable even from a distance. Early travellers believed that entering through the stone gates guarded by Taoist demigods ensures a safe journey.
Right next door is another ancient temple, Wat Arun, also known as the “Temple of Dawn”. It was constructed during the heyday of Ayutthaya as an indicator to sailors that they have arrived in Bangkok. The design is similar to that of Mount Meru, the centre of the universe according to Buddhist and Hindu beliefs.
Once modern-day Bangkok passes by, you’ll see gorgeous stilted wooden houses positioned above the river with overhanging balconies. Of the 500 temples that once graced Ayutthaya, today, you’ll see the remnants of only 168.
Caleb Falcon is a travel writer who specializes in writing content based on the many exciting world adventures that await intrepid travellers.