Tuk Tuk Tours
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On Bangkok's "River of Kings" - The Chao Phraya
Take an evening wander alongside the Chaophraya river in Bangkok, and you’ll see them: some daintily floating along, others blaring music as loud as you like, and many with impressive, romantic displays of light against the night sky. A dinner cruise along the river can be a memorable way to spend a few post-dusk hours in Bangkok, and it figures on many an itinerary for a visit to Thailand. But not all Bangkok dinner cruises are created equally – here’s our pick of a few you might want to check out on your next trip.
(This is not operating as of October 2020)
While Bangkok river cruises on the Chaophraya river might be exciting, luxurious, and romantic – not to mention a great way to see the sights of Bangkok by the dark of night – they can also have a reputation for serving mediocre food, meaning you end up paying for the views but don’t get anything particularly memorable to eat.
The good news is that’s definitely not the case on the Supanniga Cruise. This 40-seat dinner cruise, from the people behind the growing number of branches of celebrated Supanniga Eating Room restaurants, serves up the same top-notch eastern and northeastern Thai food you’ll find in its land-based outlets – made to the owner’s grandmother’s time-honoured recipes.
Supanniga Cruise aims to combine authentic Thai food with genuine hospitality and majestic Chaophraya river views, on a route that runs from Asiatique to old-town Phra Nakhon’s Rama VIII bridge, passing countless famous riverside attractions along the way. On-board, the seasonally rotated set fine-dining menu includes a range of high-end, traditional Thai dishes, and features a full selection of six courses from amuse-bouches and appetisers to soups, salads, stir-fries, curries, and desserts.
These are offered alongside drinks (one soft or alcoholic drink included depending on the cruise booked) in collaboration with trendy Silom cocktail bar Vesper and Taittinger Champagne, and finished with petits fours and tea. Aside from its full two-and-a-quarter-hour Dinner Champagne Taittinger Cruise (3,250 baht), Supanniga Cruise also offers shorter one-hour cruises (990-1,550 baht) with either a cocktail or glass of champagne and savoury snacks.
From five-star Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort, the Manohra Cruises use a fleet of handsomely restored wooden rice barges for a two-hour sailing expedition down the Chaophraya river past some of the Thai capital’s most renowned historical sites.
The standard Manohra Cruise (2,000 baht, including tea but excluding other drinks) offers a fairly average menu of Thai classics that will be recognisable to most visitors – you won’t many revolutionary or particularly uncommon dishes here, although appetisers like mieng kham betel leaf wraps and desserts such as tubtim grob red water chestnut rubies in coconut milk are a nice addition. The rest of the menu is made up of the likes of tom yum goong hot and sour prawn soup, beef cheek massuman curry, fresh spring rolls, and prawn cakes.
Pleasingly, Anantara’s Manohra Cruise caters tailored menus for children (under-13s half price; under-3s free) – featuring prawns on toast, satay, sweetcorn soup, pad thai with prawns, and mango and sticky rice – as well as menus for guests with dietary requirements, such as vegetarian options and those without pork or seafood. Breakfast cruises are also available.
Thai restaurant Baan Kanitha – which has four branches around Bangkok, in Asok, Thonglor, and Sathorn, and at Asiatique – offers a regular two-hour dinner cruise that, like other operators, uses converted colonial-style wooden rice barges and sails from Asiatique in Sathorn to the Rama VIII bridge that borders the Banglamphu district of Bangkok’s old town.
The set menu (2,800 baht) on this 60-seater cruise features an impressive range of popular and authentic Thai dishes from the land-based restaurants’ menu, and a selection of drinks is also available on-board on either an à-la-carte or pre-paid package basis.
You would expect a classy river cruise from a top-range five-star hotel in Bangkok like the Banyan Tree, and the Apsara Dinner Cruise (approximately 2,900 baht) along the Thai capital’s Chaophraya River delivers just that. Smaller and more intimate than some of the other Bangkok dinner cruise operations, the Apsara serves either a set menu or a buffet depending on season and passenger numbers, either way incorporating a praiseworthy selection of Thai dishes.
Guests also receive a welcome drink before setting sail to take in some of Bangkok’s most familiar riverside attractions from a new vantage point. This two-and-a-quarter-hour trip takes a similar route to other dinner cruises in Bangkok, and passes many of the same popular historical sites along the way – it also comes with a souvenir photo to take home at the end of the evening.
First things first: unlike the others the Chao Phraya Princess dinner cruise in Bangkok is big, brash and touristy – but then things like this tend to be popular for a reason. The Chao Phraya Princess operates a total of six unique cruise ships – including double-decker boats that can seat up to 480 people – that plough their way up and down Bangkok’s mighty river on a nightly basis for a two-hour excursion. The more mass-market nature of this cruise compared to others means that it is also rather more affordable (1,500 baht, or 1,100 baht for children).
Unlike the set menus served with most other Bangkok dinner cruise operators, the Chao Phraya Princess offers a buffet selection of Thai and international appetisers, main dishes, and desserts, plus a welcome glass of fruit punch. There is soft pop and jazz music performed by on-board saxophonists and singers to accompany the meal, while the second half of the journey gives way to an hour of ‘upbeat groovy songs for dancing’ (we’ll leave you to decide whether that sounds like heaven or hell).
The Chao Phraya Princess cruise runs to and from River City pier in Sathorn, touring the Chaophraya river – like other dinner cruises in Bangkok – as far as the Rama VIII bridge in the old town. Chao Phraya Princess cruise boats are also available for charter hire for private functions, travelling from Bangkok to Ayutthaya and elsewhere.
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