|SUGGESTED ITINERARY (4A)
(Ayutthaya to Bangkok [via Menam Noi] : 09:00 Day 1 - 17:00 Day 2)
Ayutthaya - Wat Phananchoeng - Wat Chaiwatthanaram - Wat Kassitthirat - Khlong Phong Pheng - Menam Noi - Wat Sala Daeng Nua (overnight ) - Wat Phailom - Koh Kret - Bangkok
‡ ROUTE MAP
Duration: 2 Days
Description: Leave the Pea Tevaraj Restaurant and travel down the Pasak River to join the Chao Phraya River . Shortly after departing you arrive at the beautiful and revered temple of Wat Phananchoeng. The temple was built in 1300 and predates the Ancient Siamese capital. A huge gilded Buddha image is in the main hall and is said to have been built by a Chinese Emperor. In the grounds of the Wat, a Chinese shrine commemorates a Chinese princess who drowned in the river nearby. A visit to the temple is highly recommended and feeding the fish is a must.
After leaving Wat Phananchoeng, we cross the Bang Kacha Whirlpool where the Chao Phraya and Pasak rivers unite; then pass under the silent gun portals of "Pom Phet", one of the fortresses which once defended the Ancient Siamese capital.
As we proceed in a westerly direction up the Chao Phraya, we come across the ancient temple of Wat Phut Thai Sawan. The old part is still in reasonable condition and contains a mixture of architectural styles; ancient stupas and chedis blend in with a more recent Khmer style prang. This becomes a backdrop to the western end of the wat , which features a more modern ornate Thai style viharn. A floating pontoon provides reasonable access to the wat from the vessel.
Further along the southern bank of the river lies the old French Roman Catholic Church, locally known as Wat Saint Yochep, (Saint Joseph 's Cathedral). The ceiling of the church is in an unusual style, similar to the local Buddhist temples. Services are held Sundays. Access to the church from the boat is possible for reasonably agile persons.
Rounding a bend in the river, we come across the magnificent ruins of Wat Chaiwatthanaram. From the latter part of the Ayutthaya period this temple was built by a prince in memory of his mother. The style is Khmer to celebrate a victory over the Cambodians at the time. Although partially destroyed by the Burmese during the invasion of Ayutthaya, this temple has some remarkably well preserved features from the Ayutthaya period. Across the river, a palace belonging to Queen Sirikit nestles in secluded gardens.
Continuing up the river, we are greeted by the splendor of Wat Kassatthirat; large floating wharves provide excellent access to the Wat from the boat.
Leaving Ayutthaya behind, the river winds its way northwards past tree lined banks; aquatic birds amuse themselves by flying slowly ahead of the boat, then re-alighting on some floating weed until we catch up, then flying on again. Eventually we reach the Chao Phraya Hut, a small resort on the eastern bank of the river. Built largely from timber salvaged from old teak rice-barges, is a peaceful retreat. Air-conditioned 'sala' style accommodation is available if a group is traveling on board; a simple restaurant and bar overlooks the river and is a pleasant place to stop for a while. Access is reasonable for agile persons. During high river levels, September to November, mooring may not be possible at this site.
Further up-river, we reach Khlong Phong Pheng, a natural waterway which leads to the Menam Noi, a river which flows in parallel with the Chao Phraya. When entering the narrow but deep waterway, you will be surprised at the number of large steel barges loading sand at Ban Phong Pheng; but beyond the first bridge the khlong becomes a pretty and peaceful stretch of water.
A steel footbridge at a temple halfway between the Chao Phraya and Menam Noi is the critical obstruction for this route; if we can pass beneath this bridge, the water level will permit passage down the Menam Noi. After the footbridge the khlong narrows, becomes shallower and is partially blocked by fallen trees. From here on it becomes an adventure cruise; trees, shallow water and low wires hamper passage. Beyond the Sena Township, fleets of idle tugboats and barges crowd the narrow river, leaving little room to pass. Further down the Menam Noi, masses of drifting water hyacinth occasionally block the river, slowing progress to a crawl. The scenery however makes up for the inconvenience; the narrower waterway brings the riverside way of life intimately closer. Once the Menam Noi reunites with the Chao Phraya, progress is back to normal again.
The next port of call is Wat Sala Daeng Nua, a small temple located in a village inhabited by descendants from an ethnic group originating in an area of northern Thailand near the Myanmar border. This pristine village on the banks of the Chao Phraya has been earmarked for future tourism development, but at the moment it is a peaceful place to take a relaxing walk among the flowers along the riverbank. As the temple is located on the eastern bank, you can enjoy pre-dinner drinks whilst watching the sun set over the river. Dinner is served on board in accordance with your selected menu. After dinner drinks are served whilst you catch up with the latest international news, enjoy music, a movie, or simply relax in the balmy tropical night.
Breakfast of your choice is served at your convenience, after which we set course to Samkhok and the revered temple of Wat Phailom, which is a winter nesting ground for the Asian Open-billed Stork. An elevated boardwalk has been erected through the mangroves so that you can get an intimate view of these graceful birds which migrate from Siberia and northern India.
A further hour's cruising southward brings you to the man-made island of Koh Kret. Isolated from the Eastern bank of the river by the Pak Kret Canal , the island has no roads or cars, only a narrow encircling laneway with paths leading to houses and the famous Mon potteries which dot the island. On weekends the island is bustling with tourists and the many small restaurants and bars lining the narrow thoroughfare do a brisk trade; on weekdays the pace is a little more relaxed. The island is definitely worth a visit to experience its unique culture and atmosphere.
From Koh Kret the cruise continues to Bangkok where you may disembark at your riverside hotel or other convenient place. We can arrange for a driver to collect you and take you to your hotel or the Airport.
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