Tag - chao phraya river

Khao San Road Transport

Khao San Road Transportm Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Transportm Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Transportm Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Transportm Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Transportm Bangkok, Thailand
Khao San Road Transportm Bangkok, Thailand

Getting to and from Khao San Road is easy as this area is well connected to the rest of Bangkok by bus and ferry. Most taxi and tuk-tuk drivers also know this area well, so visitors should have no trouble getting here from any part of Bangkok or the surrounding area.

There is a direct bus to Khao San Road from the airport, and the journey takes around an hour. The air-conditioned AE2 bus takes passengers to the top of Khao San Road for 150 baht, while there are also small local buses that complete the journey for just 35 baht. Those who are travelling in a group may find it more economical and convenient to catch a taxi from the booth outside the main entrance. The fare should cost around 350 in total, including a small charge to cover the toll way tax.

Khao San Road isn’t located near either the underground or sky rail system. However, the Chao Phraya River is just a ten-minute walk away and pier 13 is located at the end of Phra Athit Road. Taking the ferry along the river is a great way to see the sights and it stops at a number of different districts such as Chinatown and Thonburi. There is a Skytrain station at Central Pier, which whisks visitors into the heart of Bangkok in a matter of minutes.

Buses pass by Khao San Road on their way to most parts of Bangkok and those in the know will be able to get around fairly easily by bus. The travel agencies on Khao San Road are a good source of information and most are happy to give advice about which bus to take.

All air-conditioned taxis in Bangkok are supposed to use the meter, which starts at 35 baht. However, most of the taxi and tuk-tuk drivers that par at either end of Khao San Road have to pay a fee to stay there are unwilling to use the meter. The fee they charge for trips is often quite high and it is better to walk a few meters from Khao San Road and flag one of the passing taxis, insisting that they use the meter.

The three-wheeled vehicles known as tuk-tuks are good at nipping through the Bangkok traffic, which can save time in the rush hours. It is important to negotiate the price before getting into the tuk-tuk as fare prices are not fixed. The quoted fare will usually be high to start with, but with a little gentle persuasion it is possible to end up paying around half the starting price.

There are a number of tuk-tuk drivers on Khao San Road who offer to take tourists on a trip around the city for just 20 baht. While this may seem like a cheap way to see the sights, visitors should know that these drivers make their money by taking tourists to a number of different jewellery shops on the way. They make a commission for anything you buy and if you plan to make a purchase anyway this could still be a good deal, but unsuspecting travellers could end up with more than they bargained for.

The River of Kings

Chao Phraya River, Bangkok, ThailandAt one time the very life blood of Bangkok, the majestic Chao Phraya River and all the various canals and waterways gave rise to the city’s former worldwide reputation as being “The Venice of the East”. Since the founding of Siam’s new capital in 1782 by King Rama I, to the people of Bangkok the Chao Phraya River has been a source of protection, trade, food, fun and worship. Although many of the riverside’s traditional Thai wooden houses have been replaced by modern skyscrapers and hotels, to all Thai people the Chao Phraya River will forever be the river of life.

Either on it or by it, a little of the city’s very own CPR will breathe fresh life into party weary limbs and provide a chilled out journey into history, so for those of you whom are up for a day of messing about on the water, here are a few highlights of river life to check out while cruising down the heart of Bangkok.

Zone A

Located in the north, the tiny island of Koh Kret is where Bangkok’s Mon community settled during the reign of King Tak-Sin. Sights to see are Wat Paramaiyikawas (Temple), Wat Chimplee (Temple), Wat Klong Kret (Temple), The Ceramics Centre, and Khanom Wan Canal (Dessert Canal).

Zone B

Beginning at the Wat Chalemphrakiat Worawihan, heading south along the river other sights to see are Nonthaburi Provincial Government House, Wat Khemapirataram (Temple), The Rama VI Bridge, Wat Rachathiwas Worawihan (Temple), Bang Khunphrom Palace, and the Phra Sumen Fortress. 

Zone C

A short journey west along Bangkok Noi Canal sights to see are the Royal Barge Museum, Wat Suwannaram Ratchaworawihan (Temple), Baan-bu Village, Thonburi Railway Station, and Wat Srisudaram Worawihan (Temple).

Zone D

Continuing south along the main river visitors will see Ratcha Woradit Pier and Rachakij Winijchai Throne, Wat Arun (Temple of Dawn), Wat Kallayanamitr Woramahawihan (Temple), Santa Cruz Church (Catholic), Phra Buddhayodfah Bridge, and Sullaka Sathon (Former Taxation House).

Zone E

Located south west of the main river along Sanam Chai Canal you can see Wat Nang-Nong Worawihan (Temple), Wat Raja Orasaram Ratchaworawihan (Temple), Wat Sai, (Temple), Wat Nang Shee Shotikoram (Temple of Nuns), and Wat Nang Ratchaworawihan (Nang Temple).

Zone F

A short journey south west of the main river along Bangkok Yai Canal visitors will see Wat Hong Rattanaram Ratchaworawihan (Temple), Wat Moliokkayaram Ratchaworawihan (Temple), Wat Intaram Worawihan, Charoen Mosque, and The Old Palace. 

So, whether you decide on one of the leisurely evening dinner cruises, or purchase a day river pass entitling you to unlimited travel between Nonthaburi in the north (Zone A) to Thonburi in the south (Zone F), or even would simply like to travel to one of Thailand’s former capitals, Ayutthaya, by boat, a visitor’s trip to the Kingdom would not be complete without a journey along “The River of Kings”. Enjoy.

And remember…

Keepitreal

Royal Barges in Thailand

Royal Barges in ThailandOne of Thailand’s most spectacular sights for visitors would have to be the flotilla of Royal Barges carrying the Thai Royal Family elegantly down the Chao Phraya River during traditional annual celebrations. Although such a spectacular marine procession can only be seen just a few times a year, the Royal Barges themselves, when unused, are housed and maintained in sheds located about 45mins walk & ferry away from KSR and can be viewed daily by the general public between 8:30am to 5:00 pm at an entrance fee of just 30 Baht. It’s a chilled out way to spend time between waking up and happy hour and another great opportunity for visitors to get up close and personal to some unique and important Thai works of art.

Beautifully hand crafted, a Royal Barge procession would total an approximate number of 25 boats; however, only few of these are the “actual” Royal Barges with most numbers taking up roles of Royal Escorts, and fantastical Mythical Creature Barges. Once you’ve found the Royal Sheds (which requires a little patience) you will see that every Royal Barge is headed by a mythical figure or creature and is ornately decorated. The barges themselves reach an approximate length of around 50m and require a crew of over 40 men to row each. These majestic barges are all hand crafted, intricately carved, colourfully painted and inlayed with hundreds of tiny mirrors/glass shards to make each barge seem to shimmer and sparkle, day or night. Of course, as expected, the largest barge of all named “Suphanahong”, is reserved for the King alone. The barge itself is over 50m in length, is wonderfully decorated and has to be powered along by 50 oarsmen.

Royal Barges in ThailandGetting over to the Royal Barge Museum is quite easy. The sheds themselves are located along Khlong (canal) Bangkok Noi, which is just across the Chao Phraya River, and is very close to the Pinklao Bridge. You can head over to the Museum in a taxi or Tuk Tuk, but if you’d prefer to avoid the traffic around Pinklao Bridge, then take the river instead. From KSR take a short walk around to Phra-Athit Pier, on Phra-Athit Rd and catch a ferry boat just across the river to Station Pier. When you?ve crossed the river, follow the road up to the Arun Amarin Road junction. Here, take a right and head across the bridge for the canal, getting off the bridge on the other side via the stairs to your right. A small sign and the few food stalls around mark the entrance to the museum. Although the entrance path is quiet long (hence the need for patience), just follow the signs as you zigzag between local homes; spotting the “house of beer” will mean that you’re on the right track, until you finally reach the Royal Barge Museum. Enjoy.

And remember…

Keepitreal

Park Life

Bangkok Parks
Bangkok Parks
Bangkok Parks

I’ve often heard visitors to Khaosan Road complain that it is too developed, there are too many tuk-tuks and taxis and nowhere for them to relax and collect their thoughts in peace.

These people are obviously unaware of one of Banglamphu’s most beautiful and natural areas. For me, Santichaiprakan Park is a piece of Eden, a place to sit and read under the shade of a tree, watch the sun set or look on as groups of Thai teenagers and brightly-dressed backpackers do their thing.

As I wander through the park, I never know what sights await me. The park is situated on bank of the Chao Phraya River, and as I follow the zigzagging pathway a cool breeze blows across the river, welcome in the heat of the day. All around the park are benches so that people can sit and gaze out over the river. Many couples are doing just that, the natural setting acting as an enhancement for romantic feelings.

I pause for awhile under a huge tree tied with coloured scarves. This is the ancient Lam Phu tee, from which Banglamphu takes its name. The tree is believed to be more than 100 years old and is the last of its kind in the area. Nearby is another sacred tree – the Pho Si Maha Pho. The fruit, flowers and bark of this tree all have special medicinal properties.

The park was originally dominated by a sugar factory. 3.3 acres of this land were cleared and relandscaped as a public park to commemorate the 6th cycle of King Rama IX on December 5th, 1999.

Although often referred to as Phra Sumen Park, the official name is Suan Santichaiprakan. The name was provided by H.M King Rama IX and means: The Park with a Fort that Symbolised the Victory of Peacefulness.

It’s true that the fort has seen better days, but it is still an impressive structure. Situated at one end of the park, the octagonal brick and stucco bunker is 45 meters wide and a towering 18.50 metres tall.

Phra Sumen Fort, or Phra Sumeru Fortress as it is also known, was one of 14 forts built to defend against potential naval invasions. Now only two of these forts exist – the other being Mahakan Fortress, situated at Democracy Monument, near The Golden Mount. The fort is encircled by large cannons and has 38 rooms for ammunition and weaponry in its center.

As I wander around the fort, I come across a group of young Thai men playing Takraw, a special Thai game
similar to volleyball. Players cannot touch the ball with their hands but can use any other part of their body. Each team consists of three players and three contacts are allowed before throwing back the ball to the other side. I stand and watch for a few minutes as the players jump and twist their bodies into the air to smash the ball back at their opponents.

Around the other side of the fort near the river, an interesting event has just begun. People of all ages meet here at 6 pm each day to join this open air aerobics class. The class also draws a large number of spectators too as people of all nationalities gather to take in the site of dozens of lycra-clad bodies bending and stretching in the twilight.

The sun is nearly ready to set now. I walk through the park once more, past the dreadlocked backpackers playing bongos and wooden flutes under the trees. Their music makes an interesting accompaniment to the electronic beat of the aerobic class’ dance music.

I pause and watch a small group of jugglers practicing on a patch of grass. They skillfully twirl batons and throw balls into the air, twisting their bodies to catch the equipment with fluid grace. Nearby, a group of Thai teenagers are break-dancing, taking it in turns to impress each other with the latest moves.

The sun has begun to set now and I sit on a bench watching as it slips down the horizon.

Then it is back to Khaosan Road for a night of drinking, dancing and debauchery.

About the author:

Kirsty Turner (Kay) is a freelance writer currently living in Bangkok. She has kindly agreed to write for KhaoSanRoad.com and share her love of all things Thai and, especially, all things Khao San Road!

Loy Krathong – of Light and Water


Loy Krathong - of Light and Water
Loy Krathong - of Light and Water
Loy Krathong - of Light and Water
Loy Krathong - of Light and Water
Loy Krathong - of Light and Water

“November full moon shines, Loy Krathong, Loy Krathong, And the water’s high in the river and local klong, Loy Loy Krathong, Loy Loy Krathong, Loy Krathong is here and everybody’s full of cheer, We’re together at the klong, Each one with his krathong, As we push away we pray, We can see a better day.”

This is an English translation of the song sung by Thai students to celebrate Loy Krathong.

Quite the opposite of Songkran, Loy Krathong is by far my favourite Thai festival. In Thai, Loy means “to float”, whilst krathong is the name of the small lotus-shaped rafts, which are specially constructed for the occasion. Loy Krathong is held on the evening of the full moon of the 12th month in the lunar calendar. This usually falls in November and is celebrated this year (2007) on November 24th. Loy Krathong is long anticipated all over Thailand and especially in Bangkok, where people gather in their thousands on the banks of the Chao Phraya River and take boat trips along the intricate canal network.

Last year, I took a small ferry boat across the Chao Phraya River after dark. The sun had only just set, yet there, near the Phra Pinklao Bridge, several hundreds of people had already gathered.

I walked around the small park area, where groups of people had gathered to celebrate together. Folding metal tables and chairs had been set up everywhere, the tabletops already covered with bottles of Sangsom whiskey, glasses and buckets of ice. All around, stalls were set up selling krathongs in every size and colour, fireworks, toys and even baby turtles as many people believe that it is good luck to release turtles into the river during festivals.

At around 8 pm the boat parade began. I found a spot on the river bank and watched in awe as about two dozen elaborately decorated barges glided down the river. Each barge was strewn with coloured lights and decorated in a certain theme. Of particular note was a barge bearing an enormous saxophone, a tribute to His Majesty the King’s musical talent.

There was a spectacular fireworks display at the end of the parade. Several children joined in by firing tubes containing small rockets into the air with reckless abandon.

Then it was time for me to launch my krathong. I patiently waited my turn at the water’s edge, then lit the candle and incense sticks in the center and lightly placed my krathong on the water, making a wish as I did so. Many people believe that their wish will come true if their candle continues burning until the krathong is out of sight.

I watched in wonder as my krathong drifted into the river and weaved amongst the hundreds of others already floating there. The flickering lights of the candles on the water created a magical atmosphere.

The Loy Krathong festival dates back about 700 years. Coinciding with the end of the rainy season and the rice harvest, it is a way of apologizing for polluting the water. Thai people float a krathong on the water to thank the Goddess of Water, Phra Mae Khongkha. The act of floating away the candle raft sybolises letting go of anger and grudges so that a person can start life afresh.

Another symbol of Loy Krathong are the beautiful kom loy lanterns. As I wove my way across the park once more, I came across a group of students holding aloft one of these large paper lanterns and waiting for it to fill with air. When inflated, a candle was placed inside and the lantern was released, rising high into the air to become another flickering point of light.

Another interesting event during Loy Krathong are the beauty contests, known as “Noppamas Queen Contests” after the consort of the former king of Sukhothai, King Loethai. Noppamas is credited with starting the tradition of krathongs when her beautiful tribute caught the attention of the king as it drifted down the river. Loy Krathong is a great opportunity to experience a Thai festival. Whether you choose to do it simply as and onlooker or get fully involved, Thai people are extremely found of this festival and pleased to share the experience.

About the author:

Kirsty Turner (Kay) is a freelance writer currently living in Bangkok. She has kindly agreed to write for KhaoSanRoad.com and share her love of all things Thai and, especially, all things Khao San Road!