See the City of Angels in a new light, as the banks of the Chao Phraya sparkle with sunset then starlight. Our cruise passes some of Bangkok’s most iconic sights, including the Temple of Dawn and Grand Palace, as well as lesser-known gems of ancient Buddhist temples and Beaux Arts-style mansions and palaces..
Taksin Bridge, named after one of Thailand’s great kings, connects old and new Bangkok – Thonburi with its traditional riverside communities and the gleaming CBD of Sathorn. Below the bridge is Sathorn Pier, where the skytrain and river shuttles link.
Bangkok’s newest landmark, ICONSIAM, is home to a shopping mall of many firsts. Of note are the iconic Apple store and an indoor floating market, and sailing past one can take in the waterfront sound-and-light fountain show and New Year’s fireworks.
The Embassy of France is almost hidden from view by lush greenery. Built in the mid 19th century, the European-style residence evokes the grandeur of old Bangkok with its louvered shutters and spacious verandahs.
The Embassy of Portugal is the oldest mission in Bangkok, and as such commands a prime position overlooking the river. Its award-winning architecture by Joachim Grassi has been carefully preserved, winning the ASA Architectural Conservation Award in 1984.
The Holy Rosary Church was established by Portuguese Catholics who relocated to Bangkok after the fall of Ayutthaya. The Gothic Revival structure is crowned by a soaring steeple, and the church is known for its beautiful stained-glass windows.
Next to the church is the Siam Commercial Bank, established in the early 1900s and as such Thailand’s oldest bank branch. This magnificent building was designed by Italian architect Annibale Rigotti in Beaux Arts style.
The Phra Buddha Yodfa Bridge, better known as the Memorial Bridge, was built to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the founding of the Chakri Dynasty. Attractions nearby include Pak Klong Talad Flower Market and Pahurat, Bangkok’s Little India.
Wat Prayoon is an ancient monastery of the early Rattanakosin era. The striking white stupa contains Buddha relics, while the replica Mount Meru is a tranquil lake where turtles come to feed.
Bangkok’s other founding Catholic church, the Santa Cruz, was constructed by Portuguese Catholics in 1770. It is known by locals as Wat Kudi Jeen for its rather Chinese design, and is recognisable by its red dome.
Wat Kalayanamit was built in the reign of King Rama III, and thus is considered relatively new. The name means “good friend” in Sanskrit, and it is believed that a visit to the temple ensures a life blessed with good friends.
The Royal Seminary is located within Rajini, the first girls’ school in Thailand founded by Queen Saovabha. King Rama V built it in memory of Queen Sunanda Kumariratana who tragically drowned in the Chao Phraya in 1880.
The white-walled Vichai Prasit is an old Ayutthaya fortress constructed under the supervision of French engineer de la Mare. It played a role in the siege of Bangkok in 1699, and today serves as the Royal Thai Navy Headquarters.
One of Bangkok’s most beautiful temples, and reputedly the most photographed, is the magnificent Wat Arun or Temple of Dawn. Built at the height of the Ayutthaya period, it used to be the home of the Emerald Buddha before the capital and the palace were moved to the other side of the river.
Across the river lies Wat Pho, more commonly known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha. It features the oldest reclining Buddha in Bangkok, and the largest in the country at 46 metres long. Wat Pho is also world renowned for its traditional Thai massage school.
The Grand Palace has been the official residence of the Thai monarch since 1782. It plays host to the nation’s most important ceremonies such as coronations. Within its walls lies Wat Phra Kaew, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha.
Wat Rakhang is one of the original temples remaining from the Ayutthaya period. King Rama I lived here before he was installed on the throne, and today the temple is one of the nine that Bangkokians make pilgrimage to on holy days.
Siriraj is the oldest hospital in Bangkok, built in 1888 by King Rama V after one of his sons died from an unknown illness. Today, the hospital is a centre of excellence with patients coming from across the country.
Thammasat is one of the kingdom’s oldest and most prestigious universities. Alumni include former prime ministers, reserve bank governors and supreme court judges. Its iconic dome was the centre of Free Thai resistance during World War II.
Phra Sumen was constructed in 1783 to fortify the old city during the reign of King Rama I. Named for the mythical Mount Menu, it is one of only two forts from that period remaining, and is notable for its octagonal structure.
Next to the fort is the Bank of Thailand Museum, formerly the Bangkhunphrom Palace. Commissioned in the early 1900s as a residence for a prince, the building boasts some of the most beautiful stucco work in Thailand.