The Chao Phraya is the glistening pride of Bangkok. The River of Kings cuts a regal pathway through the city as it makes its way to the sea. Commanding skyscrapers look over the city's historic icons, blending into riverside views capturing Bangkok's heritage and its modernity.
For centuries, this impressive waterway has been a major artery that fed the growth of a bustling metropolis. The river today, along with its thriving riverside, represents the juxtaposition of this captivating city – the grand and the gritty that both charms and bewilders.
During the day, 50,000 commuters criss-cross the banks. After sunset, the Grand Palace and sparkling Buddhist temples compete with luxury shopping malls and five-star hotels to light up the night sky.
In a humid city that struggles for green space, a trip to the riverside is an ideal way to catch a breeze while dining in elegance, gazing out to an awesome assortment of nature, history, and architecture.
Watch the Temple of Dawn shine at sunsetThe district near the Grand Palace is home to gastronomic gems that are the perfect start to your culinary exploration of Bangkok’s riverside. Among them are three MICHELIN Guide-listed restaurants offering prime positions for views of one of the most iconic sights of the city, Wat Arun.
Wat Arun translates as the Temple of Dawn. But it’s the sun setting behind this monumental 17th-century pagoda that makes it a favourite for locals and visitors alike.
There’s nowhere more fitting than Chakrabongse Dining to appreciate the view of Wat Arun and Thai heritage. Set in a gorgeously restored historic house, the tall windows of the grand dining room provide a wonderful panorama of the expansive waterway and the Temple of Dawn.
The restaurant is famous for its authentic royal Thai cuisine and a kitchen that serves a different set menu every day. The stand-out dishes include river prawns in a spicy, sour coconut broth with banana blossoms and the Chakrabongse roast duck red curry with mixed fruits.
Address: 396/1 Maha Rat Road, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Bangkok. Tel. +66 8 0045 7778
Supanniga Eating Room, Tha Tien
For a more casual setting, try the deck atop Supanniga. The dining room inside has a great view of the water, but the sofas on the rooftop make for an idyllic spot to relax and soak up the golden rays of sunset.
The homestyle cooking is based on the recipes of the owner’s grandmother. They’re packed with the flavours of the North, such as fried Chinese cabbage and braised pork belly with herbs and cowa leaves.
Address: 392/25-26 Maha Rat Road, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Bangkok. Tel. +66 2015 4224
Another restaurant nearby that preserves the taste of tradition is Rongros. Pronounced rong-rot, the name is a clever play on words -- either house of flavours (โรงรส) or garage (โรงรถ). Indeed, the modest eatery was once a parking garage that has been artfully restored. It retains its original chipped walls and earthy feel, enhanced by rustic décor, golden chandeliers, vintage Chinese panels, and dark-wood furniture. At night, diners sit beside the water’s edge as across the water, the illuminated Wat Arun appears to rise out of the black nether.
The menu invites diners to eat like a local – from aromatic soups and curries to wok-fried delicacies. The highlights include the green curry with ribeye beef served with roti and the tangy glass noodle salad.
Address: 392/16 Maha Rat Road, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Bangkok. +66 9 6946 1785
More riverside enjoyment from north to southFor those who want to venture further along the river, here are three choices with their own unique charms and delicious dishes to enhance your riverside views.
Along the western banks, the Praya Palazzo is a boutique hotel set in a century-old Italian-style mansion. The hotel and restaurant is only accessible by boat and is located directly across from Phra Sumen Fort on Phra Arthit Road, and the backpacker mecca of Khaosan Road.
The dining room is inside the hotel and doesn’t look directly out onto the water. But you can enjoy a view of the river by walking around the hotel’s impressive gardens that are popular for cocktail parties.
The menu, meanwhile, transports us back in time through old Siam. Many of the dishes are inherited from the Sukhothai and Ayutthaya eras, during which the Kingdom experienced rapid growth in trade with the rest of the world. The roasted shrimp dip with crispy catfish salad and stir-fried pork in yellow chili paste are popular choices.
Address: 757/1 Soi Somdet Phra Pin Klao 2, Bang Yi Khan, Bangkok. Tel. +66 8 1402 8118
To the south of the city, the river bends back on itself to form a peninsula. Bang Krachao (บางกระเจ้า) is known as the green lung of Bangkok and has so far escaped the concrete pours of property development. On the opposite bank, in equally serene surroundings, is a humble yet charming restaurant. The Bib Gourmand awarded Chang-Wang-Imm’s simplicity is its attraction. The two-storey restaurant is a great place to enjoy affordable authentic Thai while seated along wooden decking that juts out onto a quiet stretch of the river. The basil pork curry with shrimp paste is highly recommended.
Address: 44 Mu 4, Soi Wat Bang Chak, Bang Tanai, Nonthaburi. Tel. +66 8 5525 9242
The one MICHELIN Starred Suan Thip in Nonthaburi is a Thai-style house set in lush green gardens with plenty of shade and photo opportunities. The house promotes Thai culture with various activities, including lessons in cooking and flower making. Visitors are spoilt for choice for dining areas, with several pavilions next to a pond under a leafy canopy or by the water’s edge. It’s little wonder that Suan Thip is such a popular venue for weddings.
The refined cuisine takes its inspiration from royal Thai recipes with the house specialities being Kaeng Born, a light curry, and Kaeng Kee Lek – a herb curry served with salted fish.
Suan Thip is another beautiful spot on the river that feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Yet it’s an easy 30-minute drive or boat ride to the Grand Palace or the central business district.
And if you have time on your hands, take a five-minute boat ride across the water to explore Koh Kret – a tiny island in a nook of the river with its own small community and traditional markets.
Many of the world’s great cities boast spectacular rivers that provide a window into their history and heritage. But where the Chao Phraya excels is its views of traditional architecture, striking modernity, and pristine nature that can be enjoyed while dining at some of the city’s best restaurants.
Address: 17/9 Mu 7, Sukhaprachasan 2 Road, Bang Pud, Nonthaburi. Tel. +66 2583 3748
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