All the pictures on this page were made with a Sony Mavica FD71 digital camera.
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The Thai word "Tha" means "Pier". Most of the Piers are stops
for the Express Boat, which is -as I mentioned
elsewhere on this site (on my pages
about public transport in Thailand)- a very convenient means
of public transport along the Chao Phraya River.
Tha Chang is a very good place to disembark if you want to visit the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew. You almost walk into the grounds of these major tourist attractions when you walk out of the pier.
Practical tip: Guides will be trying to tell you you should hire them for your visit to the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew at the entrance of the grounds. Only do so if you want a person as a guide, because at the inner entrance, you will receive a guidebook for the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew free of charge.
At Tha Chang you are also near to Wat Pho, one of the most impressive Temples in Bangkok, because of the gigantic Reclining Buddha. Just turn right when you step outside Tha Chang and you are on your way to Wat Pho. And if you walk even further in the same direction, after your visit to Wat Pho, you go to Pak Klong Talat, meaning Pak Klong market. As will be repeated below: This is a very large flower and vegetable market, certainly worth a visit.
If you turn left after stepping outside Tha Chang, you will walk towards Sanam Luang, mentioned before (while I mentioned the Democracy Monument on the first page of landmarks). I repeat: Near Sanam Luang you will find the National Museum, the National Theatre and the National Art Gallery. Before you come at Sanam Luang, you will pass Wat Mahathat, a Temple with an interesting bookshop and where courses in meditation are being given. Should you like to make a long walk, then you can walk past Sanam Luang, turn left at the National Theatre and then walk all the way to Banglampoo, but that really is a long walk (although I made it several times).
Alternatively you can take a cup of coffee (or something else) in the Royal Hotel at the far end (coming form Tha Chang) of Sanam Luang. The Royal Hotel became (in)famous during the bloody demonstrations for Democracy in 1992. You can read more about this on my page about HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej. And form the Royal Hotel you can turn to Rachadamnoen Avenue and walk to the Democracy Monument. If you do so, you will pass a large selling place for lottery tickets. Try your luck.
This is an ideal location to see several sights. You get there
might expect- by Express Boat. If you have memorized the picture above,
you can hardly miss the pier close to it, which is called Tha
(which means Sapan Phut Pier). If you disembark there, go to the left
and you will pass the bridge. Walk straight on to explore Pak
(Pak Klong market), a very large market for flowers and vegetables. Do
not forget to walk into the large market grounds on the left hand side
and the right hand side of the street you are walking in.
As far as vegetables are concerned this is a wholesale market, like Covent Garden in London once was and Les Halles in Paris once was. In Thailand the main wholesale vegetable market is still in the center of Bangkok! If you walk on after you have passed Pak Klong Talat, you come to Wat Pho, also mentioned earlier.
If you turn back to the bridge after having seen Pak Klong Talad, you should turn left at the bridge (so that the bridge is behind you) into Chakkrawat Road and you are on your way to Chinatown. But before you arrive there you pass "Old Siam", a not so large, but still nice shopping center. Around this shopping center you find several shops that sell guns and pistols. So if you had planned to buy one ... this is the place to do so.
OK, you are walking along Chakkrawat Road again. Then turn right when you arrive at Yaowarat Road and you are in the very heart of Chinatown. Take a look in some of the small "soi's" to see the Chinatown market. Near the end of Yaowarat Road you will come to Wat Traimit or The Temple of the Golden Buddha. The Temple itself is hardly worthwhile, bur the solid golden Buddha Image is certainly impressive! Don't forget to walk into the Chinese Shrine opposite Wat Traimit. It is also worthwhile and quite different from a Thai Temple! If you are at Wat Traimit you are also very near Hua Lampong Railway Station, where you should check if you can make the State Railway trip to the River Kwai. See my separate page about it. Recommended!
This is not much of a sight, but you should go there because
it is the Northernmost point of the Express Boat Service.
I strongly advise you to go from this point to the Southernmost point
of the Express Boat Service (see below) as a bargain sight seeing tour.
Go to my page about the Chao Phraya
River (after you have read this page!) to see what you can
expect on your way.
In Nothaburi you can take lunch in the floating restaurant close to the pier. It does not look very hygienic, but it is. The food is safe and good. And while walking to the restaurant, look up at the lampposts. You will see that they are decorated with durians at the top (see the picture above). Nonthaburi is traditionally a place where durians are being grown. Walk around a bit in the market of Nonthaburi and go back to Bangkok by Express Boat.
This is the Southernmost pier of the Express Boat Service. That is to say: during daytime. Only in rush hours there is an Express Boat going even farther South (see below). Near Wat Rajsingkorn Pier you find the Temple of that name. Well, now that you are there anyway, take a look inside. On the walls leading from the pier to the street you see some wise Buddhist sayings painted. Take some time to absorb them. In fact there is not much more than the Temple to see here. The nearest hotel is the Menam Hotel. You can walk there and you might want to eat or drink something there. There is another pier closer to the Menam, so on your way back, don't take the same road, just walk to the river.
During rush hours there is a (different) Express Boat Service going from (in the North) Siriraj Hospital way down to the ultimate Southernmost point along the river: Rama IX Bridge, which is -according to Thai sources- the longest suspended bridge in the World. If this is true or not I do not know, but it certainly is impressive, as can be seen from the above pictures. If you want to see it, take an Express Boat early in the morning and it will bring you there. On the other hand: In fact there is nothing else there. So if you have enough after having seen this picture, don't go there. Well, there is a shopping center with some restaurants, but it is far from impressive, although I had a good Japanese "suki" lunch there.