During my first visit to Thailand we’d skipped dinner cruise for various reasons. This time, got to experience the same. This post shares my experience and photos during the Bangkok Dinner Cruise.
What to expect from the dinner cruise? As the words suggest, it is a buffet dinner on board a moving boat, pretty large one at that. This is the primary objective. Apart from these, the dinner cruise lets you view the scenic Bangkok riverside and its giant buildings in its full glory at night. The whole ride lasts for about 1.5-2 hours. Alcohol can be bought separately on board, a small dancing floor is facilitated on the deck of the ship to let overenthusiastic public to dance to the tunes of music, sung by an enthusiastic lady host.
We went on Chao Praya Princess, which has 4 ships offering dinner cruises. Each ship could seat approximately 400-500 people, both upper and lower decks combined.. There’re many other operators providing dinner cruise on boats of various sizes. Journey started at about 8PM and ended at about 9.30PM. Tickets can be bought at Riverside Mall or can be booked online. Cost in the range of 1200-1400 baht. (in 2012, I remember our tour guide quoting an amount of 700 baht- probably it was for a different boat).
Guests get to have their photos clicked with a lady dressed in traditional Thai princess dress, to be bought as a souvenir for 200 THB later on board the ship. I noticed that many customers didn’t care to buy this, as they got their friends to get a photo clicked in their cameras, effectively neutralizing need to buy a physical copy. I took photo of many of our group members, though couldn’t find anyone to click mine.
A small music band welcomes guests as they boarded the ship, but we were the last few to enter and as we were boarding, music troupe was wrapping up. Once inside, we were given a brief safety instruction that life vests are under the table. Our table was in the upper deck, which offers better views for photography. Lower deck is more stable, ideal for romantic setting as crowd movement is less. I am not sure if customers will have a choice of opting the deck.
I was happy to see good amount of vegetarian options- samosas, rice variants, rotis and so on.
Ship cruised slowly, crossed under the Rama VIII suspension bridge, to turn back to boarding point. Many of Bangkok’s biggest hotels- including Sheraton, Shangari La etc could be seen on the banks of Chao Praya river. Bangkok flyer could be seen at the distance and so are some of the popular temples. Did manage some photographs as you can see below.
The staff don’t speak proper English. I asked few people the name of the bridge, but they couldn’t understand my question. Also another staffer who was serving soft drinks spoke some English but largely gave answers based on what she felt could be the question… (For example, she had three kind of drinks- orange, black and transparent (essentially equivalents of Fanta, Coke and Sprite)- on being asked what drinks are they, she replied “it is free”, assuming that people wanted to know if it is free or have to be paid, which will be the typical questions Indians ask). But by and large language is not a problem. Should you really need help, your tour guides can assist you or there’re a few senior staff who speak better English.
To entertain the audience, lady host soon started singing Bollywood numbers, as the customers that day were largely Indians. She couldn’t pronounce the words properly, but that didn’t count, as the music was good and guests didn’t mind the lyrics. Soon a small area on the deck was made dancing floor, where men of all ages started dancing around the lady host. A few tamil, telugu numbers were also played. I think the lady host is used to this kind of overenthusiastic crowd so she managed the situation well, quietly moving out of the dancing area whenever situation seemed to go out of control. She got lots of photo session requests from men, women and kids alike. While they were dancing, I experimented with my goPro, trying to make some video from the top angle, moving the camera over the heads of the dancing people. At one point, someone noticed the goPro and started dancing right into it and soon others followed the lead. I got scared seeing so many people focusing their attention on goPro, so I withdrew and walked away J
Otherwise, night time photos clicked in GoPro were effectively useless. Nikon did most of the job that night.
Overall it was good experience- I got good veg food and some nice photos.
Update: A short 3min video on Bangkok Dinner cruise is now live.. watch it here.
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