Bangkok is a city that has a river runs through it, separating the city into two sides – the Phra Nakorn side and the Thonburi side.  In fact, these two sections were once separate cities. Thonburi became part of Bangkok in 1971.

It is common that humans tend to settle down near the river.  There are many reasons for this such as source of food, water supply, commercial ports, transportation route and etc.

Bangkok river line

Travel along the river or canals will give you an idea about the people who used to live along the river over 200 years ago. Life along the waterway still amazes everyone who passes by. Back in 1782 when King Rama I established Bangkok as a new capital of the kingdom, the center of the city was limited to the compound of the Royal Palace.  All government officers and male royal families built their homes around or near the palace so that when the King asked for the audience, they could report to the palace quickly.

Grand Palace from river

Most of the government officers settled down on the Thonburi side along the Chao Phraya river and nearby canals.  Klong Bang Luang or the Great Canal was the area that most government officers’s houses were located. This canal is now one of popular tourist stops that still exudes charms of the old Bangkok community.  It looks like you took a time machine back in to the past about 80 years ago.

Klong Bang Luang

That’s the view that you will see along the canal.  How about the river one? Historical buildings and religious sites blend in harmoniously with stilt houses. A Muslim Mosque was built next to a Chinese shrine whereas a Buddhist Temple is only 300 meters away from a Catholic Church. People with different faiths can live together peacefully.

Temple and Church

Another example is the classical Italian architecture (picture below) on the Chao Phraya river. Located  near the Oriental Hotel, the dilapidated building was built in the late 19th century as the Customs House. It is a remnant of the past glory of Bangkok as a popular commercial port of Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, the building is left to stand derelict since it has never been refurbished for decades. It is now a popular site for pre-wedding photography.

Customs House

If you want to see the history of Bangkok in slow pace, it is recommended that you take the river cruise.

The next article will be places that I saw during the boat journey on Mekhala Cruise. The cruise lit up my memory about the tales of the places along the river.