One 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.
Getting 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.