Restaurant Review: The Riverside Evening Dinner Cruise, Chiang Mai

Located on the banks of the Ping River, the Riverside Restaurant is one of Chiang Mai’s most famous dining venues with a good reputation amongst the locals and expats who visit here. The restaurant is a scenic location to dine, but for a small extra charge you can join one of the nightly dinner cruises.

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The Riverside dinner cruise

Diners choose from the variety of dishes available from the main Riverside menu (Thai and Western food available) with the same prices as the static restaurant; the only extra charge is to cover the cost of the boat trip itself which is currently 110 Baht per person. This is great value for a gentle 75-minute cruise on a wooden boat along the Ping River. The food is cooked in the main restaurant and then brought downstairs to the boat. Drinks aren’t sold separately on board so whatever you want to drink will need to be ordered too before the boat departs. Ice buckets are available to keep any unopened bottles pleasantly chilled.

I can’t vouch for the Western food on offer, but I’ve eaten at The Riverside regularly over the years and the Thai food has been consistently good. And that isn’t just me saying that because it has also been the opinion of the Thai people I’ve been with who have all enjoyed the food on offer. My most recent trip on the boat cruise was last week when friends visited from England. For four of us, the total bill (including drinks and the boat trip) was 2,300 Baht. This is more expensive than some Chiang Mai restaurants but considering what we ordered is still very good value even by Thai standards. We ate Thai-style which means ordering a number of different dishes and everybody trying a bit of each. Our order included a delicious whole red snapper, tom kha gai, two plates of river shrimps, kaeng phet (a spicy Thai curry), kaeng hinlay (Burmese-style curry), sun-dried pork, various appetizers and rice. With two Thai women included in the group there was no danger of not ordering enough food!

Boat details and bookings

The boat departs nightly at 20.00. Boarding isn’t supposed to start until 19.15 but we arrived just before 7pm and were allowed on board with no problems. I would advise not arriving any later than 19.30 to ensure there is enough time to have your food cooked to order.

The boat seats approximately 30 people so is quite intimate and makes for a very pleasant experience, but the limited space and popularity also means that advance booking is advisable (at least 2 days in advance). The dinner cruise is efficiently run and ends at approximately 21.15, but there is no rush to get you off and diners can sit and enjoy the ambience for a while. Once you are off the boat, a great way to finish off the evening at The Riverside is with a few drinks listening to the excellent live music.

Reservations for The Riverside dinner cruise can be made directly with the restaurant or your hotel or guest-house should be able to arrange it for you.
Reservations Tel: 053 243239
More details from The Riverside website »