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Getting around Bangkok can at times be a daunting task. Actually – not really “at times”, more like all the time. There’s no shortage of ways to get around: Taxis, the MRT (subway), the BTS (SkyTrain), buses, trains, motorcycle taxis, tuk tuks, song taews… heck, you can probably get a horse and carriage if you look hard enough. But due to Bangkok’s infrastructure, almost all of these methods are slow.
However, one often-overlooked mode of transportation is the public boat. The Chao Phraya River has forever been at the core of Bangkok as well as Thailand’s former capital city, Ayutthaya. Travel and transport by water is the reason why Bangkok has had the ability to grow to be such a large city.
If you are trying to figure out what to do in Bangkok, look no further than the public boats. More specifically, the orange flag boat.

Bangkok Public Transport: Orange Flag Boat

At first the Chao Phraya Express boat system may seem like a confusing jumble of vessels wading through the murky water of the Chao Phraya with no organization whatsoever. But with a little bit of knowledge, you’ll find that there is a goldmine of experiences to be had at a very, very low price. You’ll be getting around Bangkok in no time!
The Bangkok public transport prices are actually not very cheap comparatively to its GDP per capita. However, the orange flag boat is certainly an exception. For only 15 baht ($0.48 USD, 2019) the orange flag boat will take you anywhere on a one way trip. The line’s southernmost point is connected to the famous Asiatique outdoor mall, heads north to Central Pier (also known as Sathorn Pier) where it connects to the BTS SkyTrain system, and continues to wind its way up the river going as far as Nonthaburi, a smaller city outside of Bangkok.
The orange flag boat runs every day from 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. so if you’re looking for what to do in Bangkok at 7am, the orange flag boat has got you covered. At first glance you may be wondering why a boat is an experience in itself. The orange flag boat is a mix of local Thais and tourists alike with the ratio fluctuating depending on the time of day. With your ticket purchase you’ll be experiencing travel the way that thousands of locals commute every day. They have been getting around Bangkok this way for years and now is your opportunity to try it out yourself!


What To Do In Bangkok

Where does the orange flag boat give you easy access? So many attractions! Getting around Bangkok has never been easier!

In order of southernmost to northernmost, you can visit the following:

Asiatique The Riverfront (S3, Asiatique)

A famous outdoor mall with an iconic Ferris wheel looking over the Chao Phraya River.


What To Do In Bangkok - Getting Around Bangkok: The Orange Flag Boat
A view of the Chao Phraya River just south of Asiatique The Riverfront. © Shutterstock


Central Pier/Sathorn Pier (CP)

The central hub of the boat system connecting to the BTS SkyTrain system at BTS Saphan Taksin station.


What to Do in Bangkok - Getting Around Bangkok: The Orange Flag Boat
A shot from Taksin Bridge overlooking Central Pier (also called Sathorn Pier) in Bangkok, Thailand © Shutterstock


Icon Siam (CP)

Central Pier, part of the orange flag line, gives you direct and free access to the newly opened Icon Siam shopping mall which is one of the most lavish malls in the world and is home to the newly crowned tallest building in Thailand, overtaking the title from the Maha Nakhon building.


Icon Siam (CP) - Getting Around Bangkok: The Orange Flag Boat
The newly opened (November 2018) Icon Siam shopping mall is a state-of-the-art facility with high rise condos and hotels that broke the record for tallest building in Thailand. © Shutterstock


Sirocco (CP)

A sky bar famous for its giant golden dome as well as being featured in The Hangover 2.


Sirocco (CP) - Getting Around Bangkok: The Orange Flag Boat
The night view from rooftop bar Sirocco, as seen in The Hangover 2 © Shutterstock


Chinatown/Yawarat (N5, Rachawonse)

A hustle and bustle area of Bangkok with famous temples, street food, and culture.


Chinatown/Yawarat (N5, Rachawonse) - Getting Around Bangkok: The Orange Flag Boat
A shot of Yawarat (Chinatown) in Bangkok, Thailand © Shutterstock


Wat Arun (Wat Arun Ratchawararam)

A famous Thai temple standing in Bangkok since before 1656.


Wat Arun (Wat Arun Ratchawararam) - Getting Around Bangkok: The Orange Flag Boat
Wat Arun, Bangkok, Thailand © Shutterstock


Wat Pho (N8, Tha Tien)

Temple of the reclining Buddha.


Wat Pho (N8, Tha Tien) - Getting Around Bangkok: The Orange Flag Boat
Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha), Bangkok, Thailand © Shutterstock


The Grand Palace & Temple of the Emerald Buddha (N9, Tha Chang)

One of the staple attractions of Bangkok. Visiting Bangkok and not going to The Grand Palace is like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower.


The Grand Palace & Temple of the Emerald Buddha (N9, Tha Chang) - Getting Around Bangkok: The Orange Flag Boat
The Grand Palace, Bangkok, Thailand © Shutterstock


Khaosan Road (N13, Phra Ahtit)

A touristy backpacker street that is a market by day and a party street by night.


Khaosan Road (N13, Phra Ahtit) - Getting Around Bangkok: The Orange Flag Boat
A daytime view of Khaosan Road in Bangkok. Usually a market by day and a wild party street by night. © Shutterstock


Mad Monkey Bangkok (N13, Phra Ahtit)

The best hostel in Bangkok is only a 4 minute walk from Phra Ahtit Pier!


Mad Monkey Bangkok (N13, Phra Ahtit) - Getting Around Bangkok: The Orange Flag Boat
The best hostel in Bangkok!

This is not a full list of all the attractions accessible by the orange flag boat but it’s certainly a good start.

More About The Orange Flag Boat

The ride on the orange flag boat itself is quite pleasant. Assuming you aren’t unlucky to be traveling on a rainy day, the boat’s moderate speed gives you a great cooling breeze while allowing you to look around the city. From the ride you’ll not only see the attractions listed above but you’ll have a great view of the high rises around the river including Maha Nakhon (formerly the tallest building in Thailand), countless five-star hotels, and condos.
There’s not too much you need to know about the orange flag boat before giving it a try, other than that it’s much less intimidating than it really seems. It’s always good to remember a few things, however. For example, as you might expect from something costing only $0.48USD, it’s cash only. Paying with your coins is ideal and can be done either before you get on the boat or after. There will be a ticket collector walking up and down checking to ensure everyone has paid his or her way.
Paying close attention to which stop you’re at is quite important. While the ticket collector will shout out the station’s name, it can be nearly impossible to hear him or her on a busy day and the accent he or she will say it with can be difficult to those who do not know Thai. Luckily, every stop is clearly labeled with a sign in both Thai and English. Nearly every stop has a simple code consisting of S or N for south or north (of Central Pier), and a number. Getting around Bangkok to your destination safely is easy if you’re simply aware of your surroundings.


More information about getting around Bangkok:

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About the Author

Mad Monkey is Southeast Asia’s leading hostel operator — born in Cambodia with more properties in Thailand, Indonesia, Australia, Laos, and the Philippines. We pride ourselves in creating meaningful and sustainable travel experiences for our guests, whilst promoting socially responsible tourism.