Looking into the murky depths of the Chao Phraya River, we’ll forgive you for thinking that nothing much could come from it other than undesirable viruses and a quarantine to your hotel room for the rest of the sojourn. But once the initial incredulous head shake and dubious sniff of fresh air is behind you, you’ll quickly come to realise what numerous other begrudging tourists and savvy Bangkokians have learned to embrace; there really is no better way to travel and experience the teeming metropolis than through the river that flows across it.
Once safely seated in a ferryboat, getting on one being an adventure all of its own, you’ll be at leisure to admire the eclectic array of hotels that skirt the banks, the breathtaking temples peppered across the city and the abundance of buildings reminiscent of a 19th century Europe. But the real beauty of the ferries lies in seeing all that while watching in awe as your vessel navigates the busy waters of the river, narrowly avoiding other barges brimming with cargoes of all kind, expertly dodging children frolicking in the shallower ends or trying to guess the exotic foods being sold on wooden sampans passing by.
With five public boat lines and numerous tourist boats in operation, you could easily start your day off with a visit to the Pak Khlong Flower Market to take in the wonderful smells of the fresh fruits, vegetables and spices on offer before moving on to the Phra Arthit Road. Filled with blink-and-you’ll-miss-it restaurants and shop-houses and countless bars and cafés boasting live acts most nights, the Phra Arthit Road will prove to be a perfect place to spend time before letting the tide take you away once more through the heart of the city to the steps of the legendary Mandarin Oriental Hotel, a true oasis of peace after the chaotic beauty of the river.
So just take that first shaky step into one of the passing ferries and lose yourself in the beauty of the Chao Phraya River and all the wonders it’ll lead you to. If nothing else, you couldn’t ask for a better place to be quarantined than a room in the Mandarin Oriental or the Peninsula.