Full day self tour but recommended to split over two days
This self tour using the Chao Phraya Tourist Boat (Blue Flag) and regular commuter boats from the Chao Phraya Express Boat Company take you up the river stopping at the piers where you can get off and visit the local attractions and then hop back on the tourist boat to the next pier. The fare is very cheap for the day allowing unlimited travel on the tourist boat and all the other regular local line boat and flag boats.
Buying tour packages can eventually become a very expensive way to see Bangkok. Organizing a self tour will make for a cheaper vacation in Thailand.
There are many attractions which could be visited in one day but it is recommended to split the attractions over two days if you want to see everything at lesuire.
You must tell the boat guide you want to get off at any particular pier when they ask everyone, else they will not stop.
The regular boat line and the express flag boats are used for locals commuting between work and home. They can be very crowded during peak times and not recommended if you have young children.
The tourist blue flag boat is specifically for the tourist as a hop-on-hop-off service which departs every 30 minutes from Central Pier (Sathorn Pier) and all the other 9 tourist piers.
There is a tourist One Day ticket for 200 Baht for 9:00am until 5:30pm, One Night ticket from 3:00pm until 10:30pm, and an All Day ticket from 9:00am until 10:30pm.
From 4:00pm until 6:00pm the route is extended beyond Central Pier to Asiatique Pier.
Take sun-screen lotion and wear full covering clothing to prevent sun burn and allow access to the several temples that require you to have respectable clothing. Bring plenty of bottled water to drink although you will easily be able to buy water at the many small stalls along the way. Most attractions charge an entrance fee. Ignore any strangers approaching you who will say the temple is closed today but they can take you to alternative attractions, this is a scam to get you to visit expensive shops.
To get there
Take the BTS Skytrain to Saphan Taksin station which is almost above Central Pier on the Chao Phraya river. Take the stairs down to the main road and walk a short distance to the river.
See the Chao Phraya River Famous Attractions map at the end of this article.
There is also the Bangkok Transport Map for skytrain and subway routes, the central Bangkok map for each district in the city, and all the Bangkok district tour maps that have a list of attractions to visit.
You can visit Asiatique The Riverfront in the evening after seeing the other attractions. This large mall is situated south of Central Pier. All other tourist piers are north of Central Pier. The large promenade of Asiatique stretches along the front with hundreds of shops and many restaurants inside this complex.
Opens 4:00pm until midnight 12:00am . Address: 2194 Charoen Krung Rd, Wat Phraya Krai, Bang Kho Laem, Bangkok
The tourist boat has services every half hour between 04:40pm until 06:40pm as an extended service between Central Pier and the Asiatique shopping and entertainment area. There is also a private shuttle boat service between Central Pier and Asiatique.
Boat Temple (Wat Yannawa)
Prior to getting on the tourist boat which does not start until 9:00am you can visit the Boat Temple which is open at 8:00am and is only 10 minutes walk around the corner from Sapahan Taksin BTS station. Walk east back towards the city up Sathon Tai Road a short distance and turn right (south) at the first road which is Charoen Krung Road. Walk about 100 metres until you reach the ornate arch on the right which is the entrance of Wat Yannawa. This temple is very unique for Thailand and well worth a visit. There is also the prayer hall building next to the boat Temple.
Central Pier (Sathorn Pier)
Walk from Saphan Taksin BTS station westerly down Sathorn Tai road towards the river which is a very short distance. At the front of the pier there is a stall selling private and expensive khlong long boat tours that can take you up the several canals that diverge off the main river, but there are also public klong long boat tours that are cheaper.
Go to the ticket booth on the pier and purchase a 200 Baht full day or 300 Baht per person all day/night river tourist boat ticket. Don't forget to purchase the map booklet showing the tourist piers with nearby attractions. The ticket can also be used on all the colored flag express boats and the no flag regular line. The tourist boat (Blue Flag boat) does not start services until 9:00am. The other boats start at 6:00am for regular commuters and will be very full with the locals going to work.
The Icon Siam shopping complex is open at 10am. You can find over 500 retailers here, many luxury brands, as well as entertainment, restaurants, art and performances, and an indoor floating market. Next to Icon Siam is the Klongsan Plaza that has more shopping and food.
Here you will find Chinese style architecture designed in the Feng Shui tradition and has the MaZu goddess of the sea Shrine. Open from 8:00am until 8:00pm
Yaowarat Chinatown can be reached by walking up Ratchawong Road which is the exit road from the pier and up to Yaowarat Road. Turn right (south) down Yaowarat Road which continues on until you reach the huge red China Gate.
Phahurat Indian Markets (Little India) and the Sampheng Lane Market are located are also located near this pier.
Nearby is Wat Mangkon Kamalawat. This is the most important Chinese temple in Bangkok which is very busy during the Chinese New Year.
Pak Klong Talad
At this pier you can find nearby attractions, Yodpiman River Walk and Pak Klong Talad Flower Market. You can take a river crossing boat to the other side to see the Kudi Chin Portuguese ancient community and the Santa Cruz church.
The tourist boat stops at Wat Arun.
Wat Pho, Museum of Siam and Tha Tien Market is on the other side of the river and can be reached via the cross-river ferry ride from Pier 4 next to Wat Aurn to Tha Tien Pier on the other side. Crossing fee is 4 Baht.
Tha Maharaj is a popular attraction which has restaurants and shops.
The Grand Palace is located closeby which also has Wat Phra Kaeo inside the palace grounds. There is a strict dress code for the palace and temple. This is a highly recommended tourist attraction in Thailand.
Bangkoks' National Museum and City Pillar Shrine are also popular attractions.
Wang Lang markets are on the other side of the river where you can find food and fashion products, take a crossing ferry from Pier 3.
Thonburi Railway Station Pier
Here you will find the National Museum of Royal Barges located on the other side of the Klong canal. Open from 9:00am until 5:00pm. There is an entry fee of 100 Baht.
Phra Arthit (Pier 13)
Phra Arthit Road and its markets are located immediately outside the pier exit. Phra Sumane Fort is a short walk north from Phra Arthit pier.
Khao San Road with its popular markets is 350 metres south-east of the pier and further on walking south from Khao San Road on Chakrabongse Road is Banglumpoo Market.
Between 4:00pm and 6:00 pm at Phra Arthit pier services begin for the tourist boat all the way back down to Asiatique Pier via Central Pier. Asiatique is a shopping and entertainment area just south of Central Pier that opens at 5:00pm. The blue flag tourist boat stops at all the tourist piers on the way back.