One of the best ways to kick off a morning in Bangkok is to try out a day-long canal tour down the Chao Phraya River. Imagine: after a full breakfast and rested sleep, waiting at the pier for a long, relaxing speedboat ride to see different temples or a palace. During these morning hours, you’ll be on a James Bond boat cruising down the river as the locals get ready for their day.
You’ll see how Thais live their lives by the river, smell the fresh and spicy breakfasts from the smoke coming out of the wooden houses, colonial mansions, or the mobile floating kitchens by the riverside. You’ll see the men fishing or harvesting plants on the river’s surface.
Surely picturesque, the places offered on this kind of tour is definitely worth the time and money. Ranging from 60 to 67 USD, the places you can see include the Temple of the Reclining Buddha, Temple of Dawn, the Emerald Buddha Temple and the royal residencies—the Grand Palace .
One of the most popular destinations in this tour is the Reclining Buddha in Wat Pho. The temple is one of the oldest and largest in Bangkok, housing a working monastery and school, as well as one of the earliest Thai massage schools. Another temple that is popular is the Temple of Dawn or Wat Arun, an awe-inspiring temple that reflects the first rays of sunlight off its tall prangs or pagoda, as its surface built with seashells and bits of porcelain.
The most popular place to see, however, is the Emerald Buddha. This Buddha is considered to give Thailand its protection and luck, so all visitors are kept at a very respectful distance. Funnily, the statue has been a source of conflict throughout the neighboring kingdoms, having been stolen and returned across borders, across kingdoms, across wars, until finally being placed in its current location. The Wat Phra Kaew, which houses the statue, is in the same complex that the other temples and the Grand Palace are on.
Other than the temples, the other most popular destination on this boat ride is the huge Grand Palace, formerly housing the Thai monarchy before its abolition and currently still housing some royal offices. Upon entering the palace, visitors are usually overwhelmed with the place as there is so much to see—even a whole day will not be enough.
After a leisurely boat ride and tour, visitors are usually taken to a nearby gem factory for souvenirs and transportation back to their hotels for a good night’s sleep or a romp in Bangkok’s nightlife.