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Chao Phraya River - How to use the express boats
Chao Phraya River – How to use the express boats

The Chao Phraya river express boats are an easy and cost-effective way to see Bangkok as the river zigzags its way through some of the most important tourist attractions. Before you head out though, read about how to identify the right one for you.

How to use the Chao Phraya river express boats

There are a number of boats on the Chao Phraya river that cover different routes and stop at different boat stops. The routes covered by the boats are primarily identified by the color of the flag the fly. They are also named so – orange flag, blue flag, green flag and yellow flag express boats. There are also some other boats that have no flag. These are either ferry boats or special shuttle boats belonging to some hotels.

See the map below for the different routes/stops covered by the different colored boats. If you are a tourist, the orange flag express boat and the tourist boat (blue flag boat) cover all the stops that you need to visit.

Map of Chao Phraya River express boat routes/stops

Map of Chao Phraya River express boat routes/stops
Map of Chao Phraya River express boat routes/stops

Central Pier and Nomenclature

The Central Pier, at Sathorn (Taksin), divides the Chao Phraya river into northern and southern parts. Except for the three stops to the south, most of the stops are located north of the Sathorn. The boat stops are numbered and those that lie to the north of the Sathorn started with ‘N’ and those to the south start with ‘S’.

Chao Phraya express boat schedule – routes, fares and frequency

Chao Phraya river express boats - routes, service time and frequency
Chao Phraya river express boats – routes, service time and frequency

If the picture above is not clear, I repeat the basic information about schedule, routes, fares and frequency below:

Local Line : No Flag

Route: Nonthaburi (N30) – Wat Rajsingkorn (S3)
Service: Monday – Friday
Time: 06.45 – 07.30 hrs., 16.00 – 16.30
Frequency: 20 to 25 min

Green Flag Express Boat

Route: Pakkret (N33) – Sathorn (central pier)
Service: Monday – Friday
Time: 6:10 to 8:10 hrs.
Frequency: 15 min.

Route: Sathorn (Central Pier) to Pakkret (N33)
Service: Monday – Friday
Time: 16:05 to 18:05 hrs.
Frequency: 20 min

Yellow Flag Express Boat

Route: Nonthaburi (N30) – Sathorn (central pier)
Service: Monday – Friday
Time: 06.15-08.20 hrs.
Frequency: 8 to 10 min. (check frequency per hour in the image above)

Route: Sathorn (central pier) – Nonthaburi (N30)
Service: Monday – Friday
Time: 16.00 – 20.00 hrs .
Frequency: 20 min.

Orange Flag Express Boat

Route: Nonthaburi (N30) – Wat Rajsingkorn (S3)
Service: Everyday
Time: 5.50 – 19.00 hrs. (Mon – Fri), 6.00 – 19.00 hrs. ( Sat, Sun and holidays)
Frequency: changes hourly from 5 to 20 min. see the detailed information in the picture above.

Route: Wat Rajsingkorn (S3) – Nonthaburi (N30)
Service: Everyday
Time: 6.00 – 19.00 hrs.
Frequency: changes hourly from 10 to 20 min. see the detailed information in the picture above.

Blue Flag Boat -Tourist Boat

Route: Sathorn – Phra Arthit
Service: Everyday 9:30 -16:00

How to pay fare on Express boats?

Chao Phraya Express boats fares
Chao Phraya Express boats fares

For all the boats except the tourist boat, you can pay the fare onboard the boat or buy the ticket from the counter before boarding. If you buy the ticket before boarding, keep it safe with you and show it to the conductor when asked.

Some routes are charged based on the distance (See info below). For the tourist boat, tickets can be bought at Sathorn (Taksin) or Phra Arthit.

If the picture above is not clear or didn’t load, I repeat the fare information below:
No Flag Boat : 9 / 11 / 13 Baht (charged based on distance)
Green Flag Boat : 13 / 20 / 32 Baht (charged based on distance)
Yellow Express Boat : 20 Baht
Orange Express Boat : 15 Baht
Chao Phraya Tourist Boat : 50 (one stop, one way)/ 180 (unlimited hop-on hop-off day pass)

There are some point to point boats that just take you across the river. You can find one at the temple – Wat Arun. These boats are very cheap and cost about just 4 Baht per person one way.

How to see Bangkok’s Tourist Attractions By Express Boats

As mentioned before, if you are a tourist, the orange flag and the tourist boat (blue flag) are the most important to you. These cover most of the tourist spots.

Chao Phraya Tourist Boat
Chao Phraya Tourist Boat

The tourist boat is ideal; it’s less crowded as it’s not used by locals and it has an english speaking guide on board. The Day Pass works as a hop-on hop-off ticket. So, you can hop-on and hop-off the blue flag boats as many times as you like. However, it’s expensive compared to the orange flag boats.

The orange flag express boat stops at all the stops on the tourist boat and is much cheaper. However, it may be crowded as locals use it too. The boat doesn’t necessarily stop at every stop unless there’s someone who needs to get off. So, before your stop arrives, make sure you head to the back of the boat and indicate to the guy with the whistle that you need to get off.

Tourist Attractions and the Express Boat Stops

The important stops for a tourist and the attractions you can see at these stops are listed below:

  1. Sathorn (central pier) – shuttle boat to ICONSIAM mall. The orange boat also stops at ICONSIAM just before Sathorn.
  2. Ratchawongse (N5) – Chinatown
  3. Pak Klong Taladd (N6) – Flower Market
  4. Tha Tien (N8) – Wat Arun. you can catch a cross-ferry to see Wat Pho and Grand Palace
  5. Tha Maharaj (N9) – Some of the best Bangkok temples such as Grand Palace, Wat Pho. Take a cross-ferry to see Wang Lang
  6. Thonburi Railway Station (N11) – Siriraj Phimukhsthan museum, Royal Barge National museum
  7. Phra Arthit (N13) – Khao San Road

I hope you found this guide on how to use the Chao Phraya express boats helpful. If so, please don’t forget to share it with your friends visiting Bangkok.

Bangkok temples are a place of beauty and splendor. Its no surprise that millions of tourists visit Bangkok every year to get a glimpse of the golden Chedis and marvel at the intricate gold mosiac work and architecture. If you are planning to visit Bangkok, then here’s a list of best Bangkok temples to visit and some not so well-known temples that are great as well.

Wat Phra Sri RattanaSatsadaram or Wat Phra Kaew

Bangkok Temples - Grand Palace
Bangkok Temples – Grand Palace

Wat Phra Sri RattanaSatsadram, also known as Wat Phra Kaew is the temple of the Emerald Buddha. This famous temple is located inside the Grand Palace complex. The main attraction is the big golden stupa known as Phra Siratana Chedi. Apart from the Chedi, there are about 30 smaller buildings and structures inside the Grand Palace complex that are noteworthy as well.

Entrance Fee to The Grand Palace / Wat Phra Kaew :

500 Baht (approx. $15 USD)

Opening Hours:

08:30 am – 3:30 pm

Scam Alert:

There are lot of scammers around the Grand Palace. If anyone (especially a tuk tuk driver) tells you that the Grand Palace is closed and they’ll take you to a better place, please ignore them. Go to the Grand Palace and check for yourself. Don’t fall prey to these scammers.

Wat Chaeng or Wat Arun

Bangkok Temples - Wat Arun
Bangkok Temples – Wat Arun

Wat Arun is on the banks of Chao Praya River and can be accessed by a Ferry if you are staying on the other side of the river. The main attraction at Wat Arun is not the temple but the giant spire beside the temple. There are steps to climb the spire and walk around the narrow ledge that wraps around it. There are more steps to get to the top of the spire. Unfortunately, this is closed to the public.

Entrance Fee to Wat Arun:

100 Baht (approx. $3 USD)

Opening Hours:

08:30 to 17:30

Cost of ferry to cross river:

4 Baht

Wat Prachetupon or Wat Pho

Bangkok Templesv- Wat Pho
Bangkok Templesv- Wat Pho

At Wat Pho, you’ll find a very large statue of Buddha in a reclining state. It’s so large that it’s difficult to capture a picture of the Buddha Statue in its entriety. On the other side of the Buddha statue, for 20 Baht, you can purchase a bowl of coins. The ritual is to drop these coins into the 108 bowls lined up against the wall. It’s meant to bring you good luck. Other things to note in Wat Pho are the Buddha statues lined up inside another temple just as you enter.

Entrance Fee to Wat Pho:

100 Baht (approx. $3 USD)

Opening Hours:

08:30 am to 06:30 pm.

Wat Bowwoniwet Vihara

Bangkok Temples - Wat Bowwoniwet Vihara
Bangkok Temples – Wat Bowwoniwet Vihara

Compared to the temples listed above, this is a small temple. If you are visiting Bangkok for only a few days then you may skip it. However, if you are here for longer and looking for a reprieve from the crowds then visit this temple. Without the onslaught of tourists, this temple maintains its calm environment. Especially, if you visit the temple during the early hours of the morning, you can hear the monks chanting. It will instantly release all your day to day stresses.
The temple itself is also beautiful with a double Buddha statue.

Entrance Fee:

Free

Opening Hours :

9:00 am to 5:00 pm.

Wat Chana Songkhram

Bangkok Temples - Wat Chana Songkhram
Bangkok Temples – Wat Chana Songkhram

This is also a small temple located right opposite the famous Khao San Road. Though it is situated near a very busy street, it’s rarely visited by tourists. Just like Wat Bowwoniwet Vihara, if you are craving some peace and calm, you can visit this temple. The best part of the temple is the gateway that overlooks the temple on the other side away from Khao San Road. This gateway is really beautifully with stairs on both sides that lead you to a viewing platform where drums are kept. From the viewing platform, you can see Wat Chana Songkhram on one side and a quite peaceful neighborhood consisting of old houses on the other.

Entrance Fee:

Free

Opening Hours :

8:00 am to 6:00 pm.

Disclaimer: Before you read the article let me be clear, the experience I talk about here has nothing to do with the real Tourism Authority of Thailand and they are in no way connected to this. They are legitimate. This experience is about a travel agency and a bunch of scammers making you believe that you are be interacting with the Tourism Authority of Thailand when in fact you are not.

It’s just day number 3 in Bangkok and I have already been scammed!

I had heard before coming to Bangkok that scams are quite common here but I never thought I would fall for it. So here’s what happened.

My husband and I were walking from our hotel, near Khao San road, to a temple nearby. We were using Google maps for directons to the temple.

A Friendly Stranger

A stranger passing by noticed this and beckoned us. We ignored him at first, but then he approached us and asked us where we wanted to go. His English was very good and he seemed very friendly. After giving us directions to the temple we were looking for, he advised us about all the places we should visit while in Bangkok. He even taught us how to say “thank you” and “hello” in Thai. We were very pleased with how warm the locals seemed. That was the beginning of the scam.

The stranger then mentioned that it was “Lucky Buddha day” today, a special day which happens only once a year. On this day, entrance to certain temples is free and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) offers 20% discount on hotel and travel bookings. He advised us to book our hotels through Tourism Authority of Thailand only as they are the best source of information and cheap deals. He also asked us to take a tuk tuk that would take us around to some temples and Tourism Authority of Thailand at just 40 Baht as part of the “Lucky Buddha Day” deal.

We thanked him and were about to set off on our own. However, he insisted that we should take a tuk tuk as the walk up to the temple is quite long and immediately called a nearby tuk tuk. He spoke to the tuk tuk driver in Thai and told him where to take us and how much to charge. We felt this was a bit weird but we couldn’t decline as he was being so nice to us. This was the second mistake.

Tuk Tuk Ride and More Friendly Locals

The tuk tuk driver took us to three temples. The temples were not as impressive as other Bangkok temples we had already seen. However, the temple didn’t charge any entrance fee so we just shrugged it off.

In the second temple, there was another “friendly” stranger who approached us. He asked us where we were from. He also talked about the Lucky Buddha day and the deals at Tourism Authority of Thailand . However, he said that the Lucky Buddha day happens every week. This should have been our clue that something is off but we were too daft to notice. After we told him that we were visiting from Canada, he proceeded to tell us about a friend in Calgary who visits Bangkok often. He then told us that his friend had once been scammed by Booking.com and that’s why he now always books his trip through Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT). This reinforced the idea that we should always book through TAT.

We thanked him for the information and left the temple. The Tuk Tuk driver then took us to another temple where surprise there was another friendly stranger who said almost the same things. Looking back, I don’t know why we didn’t connect the dots. We assumed that the locals are very friendly and helpful. I blame lack of sleep and the heat for our slow brains.

Fake Tourism Authority Of Thailand and the Lucky Buddha Scam

The tuk tuk driver then took us to the what was supposedly TAT but in reality was a seedy travel agency.

On entering we were greeted by a friendly travel agent who was also fluent in English. We told him that we were looking to book accommodation in Phuket for a week. Fortunately, our other accommodation had already been booked in advance on Booking.com. Only, the one week in Phuket was unplanned and our journey from Bangkok to Krabi was unplanned.

As per our request, he looked for cheap accommodation near Patong Beach. He finally showed us a room for 480 CAD for 6 nights. we thought it was a reasonable price to pay and approved the amount. He then proceeded to book our train tickets from Bangkok to Krabi. That cost us 200 CAD.

While we were waiting for the confirmation to come through, he proceeded to tell us about the different tours from Phuket to Phi Phi islands. He said it’s better to book it in advance since the tours now take only 60 people per day. I don’t know if that information is true. We enquired about the price and he quoted around 240 CAD for both my husband and I for a one day tour. From my earlier research, I knew the tickets on GetYourGuide.com was way cheaper than that. So we declined.

Realization Of the Scam

For a while, we were not even aware that we were scammed. It’s only when we arrived back at our hotel and had our internet connection, we realised that the room that we had booked in Phuket was available for a much lower price on Agoda.com. The room actually cost 326.84 CAD. Now, you may say that the price difference may be due to the fact that he booked on a different website. Well… no. The hotel confirmation document he gave me said that he had booked it on Agoda.com as well and had a Agoda Booking ID. So, we had been overcharged 153.16 CAD on the same hotel room.

Regarding travel to Krabi from Bangkok, the travel agent told us that the flights were completely booked. So, we booked train tickets. However, this is not true either. When I came back to the hotel, I found several flights available at just $112 for two passengers. The flight just take an hour to go from Bangkok to Krabi. Now we are stuck with train tickets which takes 14 hrs with a transfer in between. I don’t even know if this train ticket is legit. Only time will tell. If the tickets are fake, I would have lost another 200 CAD.

If the train tickets are legit, I looked up online and the train tickets cost around 66 CAD per person. So it comes to 132 CAD in total. So, again I had been overcharged around 68 CAD. So the total overcharge is about 221 CAD.

People will argue that the overcharge is not a scam. The travel agent simply charged commission for his services. This is the normal procedure in most travel agencies. Also, the amount that I was overcharged was not much and just 221 CAD.

To this, I will say I don’t mind the overcharge so much. As a travel blogger I understand that travel agents need to be paid for their services and the information they offer. What I don’t like is the elaborate way in which this was orchestrated – like giving the impression of friendly strangers, the fake Lucky Buddha day, the travel agency masquerading as Tourism Authority of Thailand. This is what makes it a scam. If you are still in doubt, Google “Lucky Buddha Scam” and you’ll see how many people have been fooled by this.

I have to say one thing in the travel agent’s defense though. He actually provided us some information and printout maps of Bangkok. He showed us what places to visit and how to get there. So, we are grateful to him for that.

My impression of Bangkok is a bit tainted right now. However, as someone advised me, I shouldn’t judge an entire place by one horrible experience. I will take it as a life lesson and try to love Bangkok again.

Lessons for future travels and advice on how to avoid travel scams

  1. Not all friendly strangers are good peeople.
  2. Stay alert when visiting Asian countries like Thailand and India. I am including India in the mix because I am aware of such things happening in my home country too.
  3. Do your research before you travel.
  4. If your spidy senses tell you something is off, trust that instinct.