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Ferries and boats in Bangkok: The cheapest way to see the city

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Bangkok

Joanna Horanin

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Last updated at 28/09/2023, 10:15

Hi there! 👋 I’m Joanna, author of The Blond Travels. If you find my articles helpful, I’d be happy if you could follow me on Instagram, or . Support from readers like you means a lot to me and helps to keep this website alive. Thank you! 🙏Joanna Horanin

Bangkok has a wonderful network of boats and river ferries, which are part of the local public transportation. It is the cheapest way of moving around the city. If you come here for only a few days, it’s a good idea to use them as your main mode of transport. If you are staying longer, you might have to take a boat every day.

There are a couple of types of boats in Bangkok. They are marked with different colours and don’t stop at the same places. Understanding the whole system takes a little time, but you can get used to it quickly. ‘Beginners’ should carry a list of the boats with them, or alternatively can use the metro, BTS or taxis, if they find taking a boat too stressful.

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    Types of boats

    Here are the main types of boats you will encounter in Bangkok.

    Express Boat River Taxi

    There are 5 types of Express River Boats in Bangkok: without flags (for local markets), with blue flags (tourist boats), with orange flags, yellow and green.

    The boats without flags operate from 6 until 18:30 every 20 minutes, from Monday to Friday and cost 10-20 Baht. They stop at every pier from Wat Rajinsgorn (S1) to Nonthaburi (N30).

    The boats with blue flags are for tourists. They stop wherever you want and start running from 9:00 to 19:00, cost 40 Baht one way or 100 Baht for a whole day.

    The boats with orange flags stop at main piers. They run from 5:00 to 19:00 and cost 15 Baht. They start in Wat Rajsinkorn and finish in Nonthaburi.

    The boats with yellow flags work only during rush hours, from 6:15 to 07:00 and 16:45 to 20:00. One tickets costs 29 Baht. They are bigger, faster and more comfortable. They stop at 10 stops and they are mainly used by people travelling to work from the north part of Bangkok.

    The boats with green flags work from Monday to Friday from 0^;00 to 08:10 and from 16:05. One ticket costs 32 Baht. Those are fast track boats and the only ones that get to Pakkret (N33). They stop at 13 stops out of 33 and they are the fastest to get to Koh Kret.

    Long Tail Boat

    Long Tail Boats are usually featured in colourful booklets advertising Thailand. They are tourist boats and are available for private hire.

    Drivers can be seen around main piers, especially near the Grand Palace and Wat Pho.

    There are no fixed prices. The cost depends on the place, time and distance. It’s best to bargain for a good price. If one driver refuses to take you, you can always find another one.

    Small boats that get you to the other side of the river

    There are 32 piers in Bangkok, from where you can get to the other side of the river. Boats that operate there look like metal rafts with roofs. They are slow, but cost only 3 Baht!

    Canal Boats

    Bangkok lays on water and has an extensive network of canals. The main one, Saen Seab Canal cuts the city in half. You can go through these canals using one of the boats. They run every 5-20 minutes and cost 9 to 19 Baht, depending on the time of your journey.

    Canal Boats have 2 lines – west (with the final stop at Golden Mount) and east (with the final stop at Wat Si Bunrueang).

    How to buy a ticket for a boat in Bangkok?

    You will buy tickets for ferries and express boats at the boat station. Usually there’s a cash desk, or a booth. You pay a few Baht and then hop on the boat. Please show your ticket before you board.

    Canal boats operate a bit differently – you get on and pay to the person that sells tickets inside. They usually have a metal can that they hit. They will ask you where you’re going and then sell you a ticket accordingly. You can check the price on a special board at the boat station.

    How to find the right boat?

    The easiest way is to check on Google maps. Put your destination and the map will tell you where to go. Once you’re at the boat stop, ask the people there if you’re at the right one. At least, this is what I usually do and it always works.

    Safety

    To be honest, I don’t know how safe the boats in Bangkok are. They seem to be stable and work fine. Some are quite overcrowded, but you will always see life vests around. I also haven’t heard about many accidents there, so I guess it’s OK to take the boat when you’re in the capital. I take it every time when I’m there and it’s always been fine.
    Mind your belongings and wallets when you’re on an overcrowded boat.

    Bangkok has an extensive network of transportation and boats are definitely a unique way for getting from one point to another. I’d say that I wouldn’t like to commute by them every day, but as a tourist it’s always fun to see the city from that perspective.

    Do you have any questions? Would you like to find out more? Leave a comment!