A better mode of travel to get around and explore Bangkok
Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand, is known for its vibrant nightlife, cultural heritage, and stunning architecture. However, navigating the bustling city can be challenging, especially during rush hour traffic.
To avoid the congested streets, many locals and now tourists turn to water taxis as a convenient and enjoyable mode of transportation.
One of Bangkok’s most long standing and reputable water transport operators is Chao Phraya Express Boat and much of the information presented here is based on their services.
In this article, you’ll get everything you need to know about water taxis in Bangkok
Water taxis in Bangkok are a form of public transportation that operate along the city’s many canals, also known as khlongs.
These taxis are boats that are used to ferry passengers to various destinations along the canals. They are typically smaller and more agile than the larger, slower tourist boats that also operate on the canals.
Water taxis in Bangkok are a popular and convenient way to get around the city, especially in areas that are difficult to access by road. They are often used by locals to commute to work or run errands, as well as by tourists who want to explore the city’s waterways and visit the many temples and markets located along the canals.
There are several different types of water taxis in Bangkok, including public boats that follow fixed routes and private boats that can be chartered for a specific trip or period of time. The cost of a water taxi ride varies depending on the distance travelled and the type of boat used.
Here are some tips for tourists using water taxis in Bangkok for the first time:
- Plan your route: Before taking a water taxi, plan your route in advance, so you know which pier to get off at. You can use maps or apps to help you navigate. Consider downloading ViaBus to your smartphone to track the boats.
- Be aware of the schedule: Water taxis have a set schedule, so make sure you check the timetable before you travel. If you miss the last boat, you may need to find an alternative way back to your accommodation.
- Be prepared for crowds: Water taxis can get very crowded, especially during rush hour. Be prepared to stand or squeeze in with other passengers.
- Wear appropriate clothing: Be sure to dress appropriately for the weather, as water taxis are open-air boats. Bring a hat and sunscreen to protect yourself from the sun, and a raincoat or umbrella in case of rain.
- Carry small change: You’ll need small change to pay for your water taxi fare, so be sure to carry coins and small notes. The fares are inexpensive, but the boat operators may not have change for larger bills.
- Hold on tight: Water taxis can be bumpy, so hold on tight to the railings or seats to avoid falling over. If you have mobility issues, it’s best to avoid water taxis altogether.
- Be respectful: Remember to be respectful of other passengers and the boat operators. Don’t block the entrance or exit, and avoid loud conversations or music.
- Enjoy the experience: Water taxis are a unique way to see Bangkok, so sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride! Take in the sights and sounds of the city as you travel along the waterways.
- Some hotels, particularly those in the riverside area such as Shangri-La and The Mandarin Oriental, offer complimentary water taxi services to Sathorn Pier connecting with the BTS Saphan Taksin station.
- Piers have signs in English and have ticket stations available. If language seems to be a barrier make sure to download an app on your phone to help. Google Translate is possibly the best to use and is free.
- Download ViaBus on Apple IOS or Google Android to track your water taxi. This app will help you track the boats coming and going.
- Unsure where to start? Consider heading to Central Pier (Sathorn Pier) and beginning your journey there.
Water taxis are a great way to see Bangkok for several reasons:
- Unique Perspective: Bangkok is a city of waterways and canals, and the Chao Phraya River, in particular, is the city’s lifeline. Water taxis offer a unique perspective of the city, allowing visitors to take in the beautiful architecture, colourful markets, and stunning temples from a different angle.
- Avoid Traffic Jams: Bangkok’s roads can be incredibly congested, leading to frustrating traffic jams. Water taxis provide a more efficient mode of transport, allowing visitors to bypass the traffic and arrive at their destination quickly.
- Cost-effective: Water taxis are an affordable way to explore Bangkok, particularly for those on a budget. Fares are typically lower than traditional taxis, and the boats are readily available throughout the day.
- Convenient: With numerous piers located throughout the city, water taxis offer a convenient mode of transport for visitors. They are easy to access and provide a direct route to many of Bangkok’s top attractions.
Water taxis are a great way to see Bangkok. They offer a unique perspective, are cost-effective, convenient, and provide a unique experience that visitors to Bangkok should not miss.
Using Bangkok’s water taxis is relatively easy. The boats operate on a hop-on, hop-off basis, meaning you can get on and off at any of the piers along the route. To use the water taxis, simply go to one of the piers, buy a ticket, and wait for the next boat to arrive.
The most common boats are colour-coded based on their routes, with the red flag boats running from Nonthaburi to Sathorn and the yellow green flag boats running from Pakkret to Sathorn. The boats operate from 6:00 am to 8:00 pm every day, and the frequency of the boats varies depending on the time of day.
Water taxis operate on Bangkok’s network of canals and waterways, which are collectively known as the Chao Phraya River.
The Chao Phraya River is a significant waterway that flows through Bangkok.
The river spans over 372 km and is the major source of water for the city’s inhabitants.
The river is dotted with a plethora of attractions, including historic landmarks, cultural landmarks, floating markets, and bustling riverside neighbourhoods.
The Chao Phraya River is a bustling hub of activity, with traditional water taxis and modern ferries constantly shuttling passengers up and down the river, making it a vital part of Bangkok’s transport infrastructure.
Central Pier (otherwise known as Sathorn Pier) may be considered the main pier. It provides nearby access to Saphan Taksin Skytrain BTS (Bangkok Mass Transit system). This is a great point of reference for tourists in Bangkok as it provides easy access to various landmarks you may wish to visit.
The Chao Phraya Express Boat Service operates predominantly up and down the Chao Phraya River, (read more about it below).
Khlong Saen Saeb would be regarded as another important transit route for water taxis and it operates on an East – West axis.
The water taxis in Bangkok do not directly connect to the BTS Skytrain system. However, they can be used in conjunction with the BTS to reach certain destinations.
One possible connection point between the water taxis and the BTS is at Saphan Taksin station on the Silom Line. From there, you can take the BTS to other parts of the city, or transfer to the Chao Phraya Express Boat service, which operates on the same river as the khlong boats.
Another option is to take the BTS to Siam station, which is located near the Central Pier, a major transportation hub for both the khlong boats and the Chao Phraya Express Boat. From there, you can transfer to either of these services to reach your desired destination.
The BTS system in Bangkok, also known as the Skytrain, is a rapid transit system that serves Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand. BTS stands for Bangkok Mass Transit System.
It is an elevated rail system that operates on two main lines, the Sukhumvit Line and the Silom Line. The Sukhumvit Line runs from Mo Chit station in the north to Bearing station in the south, while the Silom Line runs from National Stadium station in the west to Bang Wa station in the southwest.
The BTS system is a popular mode of transportation in Bangkok, as it provides a fast and convenient way to travel around the city, especially during rush hour when traffic can be heavy. It also connects to other public transportation systems, such as the MRT subway system and the Airport Rail Link, making it easier for commuters to travel around the city.
The BTS system operates from early morning until midnight, with trains running every 3-5 minutes during peak hours and every 7-8 minutes during off-peak hours. Tickets can be purchased at the stations, and fares are based on the distance travelled.
You can use a rabbit card to pay for your BTS transport as well on the blue flag tourist boat service.
The Chao Phraya Tourist Boat Service is the main tourist boat service and is recognised by its blue flag colour code.
It’s the best boat service to get started with for first time visitors to Bangkok.
They have an all day river pass starting from 150 baht and cover 11 piers along the river. You can pay for your fare using the popular rabbit card, which is also used for the BTS.
The tourist boat is also a great option for those who have difficulty getting on and off boats, such as families with young children or those with disabilities. These boats are designed to be more spacious and have toilets on board.
The Chao Phraya Express Boat Service is a popular mode of transportation for both locals and tourists in Bangkok. Here are some things to know about the service:
The Chao Phraya Express Boat Service runs along the Chao Phraya River and stops at 34 piers along the way. The route covers the major tourist destinations such as Wat Arun, Wat Phra Kaew (Grand Palace), and Khao San Road.
The frequency of the boats varies throughout the day, with more frequent service during peak hours. For up to date schedule and prices see the Chao Phraya Express Boat Route Schedule.
This boat line is affordable and offers different services, including:
🔶The Orange Flag boat is available every day from 06.00 to 20.10, departing every 12 to 20 minutes. 16 Baht flat rate.
🟡Yellow Flag boats operate from Monday to Friday, departing every 5 to 10 minutes in the morning (06.15 to 08.20) and every 20 minutes in the afternoon (16.00 to 20.00). 21 Baht flat rate.
🟢Green Flag boats operate from Monday to Friday, departing every 15 to 20 minutes in the morning (06.00 to 08.10) and every 20 to 25 minutes in the afternoon (15.45 to 18.05).
- Pakkret-Nonthaburi 14 Baht
- Nonthaburi-Sathorn 21 Baht
- Pakkret-Sathorn 33 Baht
No Flag boats operate from Monday to Friday, departing every 20 to 25 minutes in the morning (06.45 to 07.30) and every 20 to 25 minutes in the afternoon (16.00 to 16.30). 9/11/13 Baht for a single trip, depending on distance.
Khlong Saen Saeb Express Boat
The Khlong Saen Saeb Express Boat service is a popular and affordable mode of transportation in Bangkok, Thailand running mostly East – West. Here are some things to know about this service:
- Route: The Khlong Saen Saeb Express Boat service runs along the Saen Saeb canal, which runs through the heart of Bangkok, from Wat Saket (Golden Mount) to Bang Kapi district in eastern Bangkok. The total distance is approximately 18 kilometers.
- Stops: The boat service makes stops at 30 piers along the canal. Some of the popular stops include Pratunam, Central World, Platinum Fashion Mall, and The Mall Bangkapi.
- Schedule: The boats operate daily from 5:30 am to 8:30 pm. The frequency of the boats varies from every 5 to 30 minutes depending on the time of day and the specific pier.
- Fare: The fare for the Khlong Saen Saeb Express Boat service is relatively cheap, with prices ranging from 10 to 20 baht per trip depending on the distance travelled.
While the safety of water taxis in Bangkok can vary, there are a few things to keep in mind to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience:
- Wear a life jacket: Life jackets are provided on most water taxis, and it’s a good idea to wear one, especially if you’re not a strong swimmer.
- Follow the rules: Pay attention to the safety instructions provided by the boat operators and follow them closely. This includes keeping your arms and legs inside the boat, not standing up while the boat is in motion, and not overcrowding the boat.
- Check the weather: Water taxis may be more dangerous during periods of heavy rain or rough waters. Be sure to check the weather forecast before boarding a water taxi.
- Choose reputable operators: Stick with well-known, reputable water taxi operators to ensure that the boat is properly maintained and the operator is experienced.
While there are some risks associated with water taxis in Bangkok, taking the necessary precautions can help ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.
Water taxis have been an important mode of transportation in Bangkok for centuries.
The use of water taxis in Bangkok dates back to the early days of the city’s history. The first canals were built in the late 1700s, as a way to provide irrigation for the city’s rice fields.
Over time, these canals were widened and deepened to accommodate larger boats, and became an important means of transportation for both people and goods.
In the early 20th century, as Bangkok began to modernise and expand, the use of water taxis became even more important.
The city’s roads were (and still are) often clogged with traffic, making it difficult to move people and goods quickly and efficiently. Water taxis, on the other hand, could navigate the city’s canals and rivers with ease, providing a faster and more reliable means of transportation.
Today, water taxis continue to play an important role in Bangkok’s transportation system. They are used by both tourists and locals alike, and are a popular way to explore the city’s many waterways and attractions.
In recent years, the city has also invested in modernising and upgrading its water taxi system, with the introduction of larger, more comfortable boats and improved infrastructure.
Despite these changes, however, the traditional long-tail boats remain a beloved icon of Bangkok’s culture and history. With their distinctive design and unique sound, they are an essential part of the city’s identity, and a testament to its long and rich history.
Water taxis are a popular way to get around Bangkok’s major tourist sites, such as the Grand Palace, Wat Arun, and the floating markets.
They can also take you to lesser-known but equally charming areas, such as the canals of Thonburi.
The experience of riding a water taxi can be thrilling, as the boats are typically fast and maneuverable. The wind in your hair and the spray of the water can make for a refreshing break from the heat and humidity of Bangkok.
Overall, if you’re looking for a unique and authentic way to explore Bangkok’s waterways, water taxis can be a good option. Just be prepared for the noise and crowds, and be sure to choose a reputable operator such as Chao Phraya Tourist Boat and Chao Phraya Express Boat to ensure you have the best experience.