A ride on the Chao Phraya River should be high on any tourist's agenda. The cheapest and most popular option is the Chao Phraya Express Boat, basically an aquatic bus plying up and down the river. The basic service plies from Wat Rajsingkorn (S4) all the way north to Nonthaburi (N30), with stops at most of Rattanakosin's major attractions including the Grand Palace (at Tha Chang) and Wat Pho (at Tha Tien). The closest pier to Khao San Road is Phra Arthit. Enter the express boat at the numerous piers and pay for the trip at ticket collector, who will approach you bearing a long metal cylinder. At some bigger piers you can buy the ticket before boarding. When the metal cylinder lady approaches you, just show her the ticket you bought on the pier.
The different boat lines are indicated by the colours of the flags at the top of the boat. These flags can be confusing; don't think the yellow King's flag corresponds to the yellow line flag! There is a basic "no flag" line (9, 11 or 13 baht) that goes along all the piers, but it only runs during rush hours (M-F 06:20-8:05 and 15:00-17:30) and is fairly slow. It is better to take the faster yellow (19 or 28 baht, M-F 06:15-08:10 and 15:30-18:05) and orange (14 baht, every day 06:00-19:00) flag lines, but you have to be sure where you're going as they don't stop everywhere. The yellow line is the fastest, but is best avoided as it skips many popular attractions (including Khao San Road, the Grand Palace and Wat Pho). The orange line is your best bet, as it covers the major tourist areas and is fairly quick too.
In addition to the workaday express boat, there is also a blue flagged Tourist Boat which stops at a different subset of piers, offers commentary in English and charges a flat 150 baht for a day pass. Single ride tickets are 25 baht. The boats are slightly more comfortable and may be worth considering if you want to cruise up and down the most important tourist sights. They only operate once per 30 minutes and stop running by 15:00.
The signposting of the piers is quite clear, with numbered piers and English route maps. Sathorn (Taksin) pier has been dubbed "Central" station, as it offers an quick interchange to Saphan Taksin BTS station. The boats run every 5-20 minutes from sunrise to sunset (roughly from 06:00-19:00), so ignore any river taxi touts who try to convince you otherwise.
Many piers are also served by cross-river ferries. These are particularly useful for reaching Wat Arun or the many piers at the Thonburi side of the river. Cross-river ferries run around every 10 minutes and only cost 3 baht — pay at the kiosk on the pier and then walk through the turnstile.
The Most Frequently Asked Travel Questions about Bangkok
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