Siam has always been tied to the Chao Phraya River in some way. The kingdom of Sukhothai was founded on the banks of the Yom River, a tributary of the Chao Phraya, while downstream, another former capital – Ayutthaya – was settled…then sacked. Riverside communities bear the marks of this close bond: wooden stilt houses, floating markets and flood levies among them. Without this twisty, meandering behemoth – also known as the River of Kings – Thailand would simply not be Thailand.
The economic zones of Bangkok are well protected from flooding from the Chao Phraya, which means that trade and leisure on the river continues unabated all year round – commuter ferries, longtail boats, hotel transfers, sand barges and river cruises are the primary sources of all this waterborne activity.
If you find yourself with spare time in Bangkok, whether you're a traveler or a resident, the following pursuits will give you a good idea of both the city's history and its current identity.