Backpacking in Thailand: Chao Phraya River Cruise, Bangkok

Backpacking in Thailand: Chao Phraya River Cruise, Bangkok

I don’t write about Thailand much, it bored the living daylights out of me, but it seems to be on everyone’s travel list and I started this article about 5 years ago and never finished it, so here it is. Bangkok has normally been on my “try to avoid” list mainly because loads of people I had met on my early journeys talked endlessly about it, as if it was the place to be. In my mind, that made it the place “not to be”. And loads of people who have done no travelling always say “I’ve always wanted to go to Bangkok” and loads of people think going to Bangkok is the coolest thing ever. I’ve never wanted to go there really, and especially not to become part of the hub of British and German tourists who flock there to party and get laid, or so we hear. Yes – that really happens.
Now, to be a hypocrite…when I finally spent some time in Bangkok, I liked it. I had 2 hours in the airport in 2009, avoiding a stamp, and quite content not to have actually been to Bangkok city, then suddenly 2 years later, to the day in fact I was there for real. Yes, I have been to Thailand. Thailand was country 63 on my journey.
In October 2011, Panny and I decided to do a weekend there. It was around the same time as Northern Ireland’s home match with Estonia. I have a mate called Lewis who lives in Bangkok, and had hoped to watch the match with him. But unfortunately we didn’t meet up that time, as we were both Northern Ireland fans living in Asia at the time. My reasons for going to Thailand finally though – were nothing to do with travel or football…

Getting my tattoo removed in Thailand

Ridiculously, the main reason for going to Thailand was actually to get one of my tattoos removed, as Bangkok seems to be cheaper than most places (we later found a cheaper place locally in Kwun Tong, Hong Kong). 
This gave Panny and I an excuse to do some sightseeing. So we decided on the river cruise. We got on the boat at Sathorn (Taksin). It was around the same time as the major floods in Bangkok and part of Thailand, and this was evident due to the high water levels.
Panny and I on the boat cruise. You basically just hop on any boat and can get off when you want. It was very relaxing and we just sat back and enjoyed it. I had just had my laser surgery so wasn’t meant to get my arm wet, but all was fine.
The woman comes over and you pay her on board for a ticket. It’s a single journey ticket.
On board the boat. I love being on boats.
The waters were high, coming right up to the roads and buildings in parts, the sky was extremely grey and drab, but I was totally loving the views and the relaxation of a cruise on the Chao Phraya River.
Panny and I had no actual plan for Bangkok and just decided to get off the boat whenever we felt like it.
Passing typical Asian temples and riverside monuments, this was a pleasant cruise along what is known as the Chao Phraya River.
It was very hot, but humid and smoggy.
We randomly decided to get out at Banglumpoo Pier, which by coincidence was near Khaosan Road, the famous hippy hub of Bangkok. OK, I was becoming a real hypocrite now…I was properly backpacking it in Bangko with the masses. If you can’t beat them, join them eh?
After the one hour cruise we got a Tuk Tuk to Khaoshan Road, the street which I may write about separately. After some food, shopping and walking the full length of the road, you know what…I fancied a Guinness and sure enough found an Irish Pub. There you have it – long term backpacker finally made it to Thailand and went to Khaosan Road and had a pint of Guinness!
Panny on a soft drink, I’m on a Guinness at The Shamrock Irish Pub.
We walked back to the same boat terminal we had got off at – the sky was looking immense as we neared sunset. I had been very impressed and surprised by this experience in Bangkok.
Sandbags to cross onto the boats which proves the flooding of the river, which worsened after we left. Very sad to see.
My Northern Ireland flag does a river sunset in Bangkok.
Our boat back down the river – same way we came up.
Amazing views on the cruise back to where we began.
A bicycle through the water.

A hat-trick of decent photos I took on the way back. You can really see how high the water levels are.

More sunset on the river, my South East Asia guidebook which I bought in Bangkok at Khaosan Road and read on the way back, and arrival back at Sathorn! It was an excellent river cruise. Bangkok was a lot more enjoyable than I could have imagined on that trip, but somehow it’s just a city I haven’t ever warmed to or liked.

City – Bangkok

Country – Thailand

Who Went – Jonny Blair, Yu Pan Yu

Transport Used – River Boat, Tuk Tuk (on this report only)

Strange Currencies – Bahts

Key Song –


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7 thoughts on “Backpacking in Thailand: Chao Phraya River Cruise, Bangkok

  • I don’t see you as being a hypocrite for visiting Bangkok as it was a joint decision you made with Panny. Travel also requires a bit of compromise with a partner, so it is completely understandable. But, I also don’t think there is anything wrong with those who want to visit Thailand, either. I would hope that they would make the effort to venture in the North and learn more about the culture and history of the Kingdom and that those experiences would inspire them to get out of their “comfort zone” a little more to see other less visited areas in the world. But, everyone has their own preferences and likes when it comes to travel. I have to respect those as much as I would want them to respect my style of travel in return.
    Ray recently posted…Wrigley Field TourMy Profile

  • Hi Ray, thanks for the comment. I think the whole commercial and marketing aspect of travel blogging influenced my opinions on Bangkok. I loved Hong Kong so much that I saw Bangkok and KL as “rival cities” somehow and I didn’t like the way people spoke about them. As if Bangkok is the hero’s place to live and work. It’s not – it’s nothing special. I’d far rather live in Gdansk, Belfast, Toronto, Sydney – in fact about 400 cities before Bangkok but those that are not from Thailand and choose to live there – good luck to them. Tourist wise, I tend to pass through Thailand once every 2 years now but I never warm to it. Indonesia, China, East Timor all ousting it down my league. As ever though, each to their own. Safe travels. Jonny

  • And that is a fair opinion to have about Thailand. Your posts about North Korea, Malaysia, East Timor, and Hong Kong, for example, have made me put Thailand further down my “priority list” for travel in Southeast Asia. Eventually I know I will find myself in Thailand at some point. But to me, it is like the “Western Europe” of Asia – it’s popular and commercialized – so it won’t change too much whether I go there next year or 10 years from now. Can’t say the same about places like China, Vietnam or North Korea, for example.
    Ray recently posted…Wrigley Field TourMy Profile

  • Been to Thailand a couple of times, enjoyed it.. Would not want to live in BKK, lots of places in Thailand would be better than there.. Lots of other places I want to see around the world..

  • Hi Bernie, thanks for the comment. I have been to Thailand a few times and feel the same. It wouldn’t make my top 100 countries from my journey. Safe travels. Jonny

  • Hi Ray, thanks for the comment. Yes I agree about Thailand – over hyped, but I still managed to visit it a few times on my journey. Safe travels. Jonny

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