In Bangkok there are numerous hotels and private operators who run dinner cruises along the Chao Phraya River. I recently took my family on the Manohra dinner cruise which only holds a maximum of 40 guests so the atmosphere is intimate and sedate.
The Manohra boat is a 50-year-old converted teak rice barge which has been completely refurbished for dining, but has still managed to retain its original charm and character. All diners are seated on the upper deck which provides for a pleasant breeze and excellent views of Bangkok at night. The kitchen/galley is located on the lower deck. There is plenty of room on the upper deck and with a maximum of 40 diners, the tables and chairs arenâ€™t crowded together so it makes for a very pleasant and intimate dining experience.
The Manohra dinner cruise departs daily at 19.30 from the pier at the Anantara Bangkok Riverside Hotel (formerly Bangkok Marriott & Spa). Guests can join the boat at the Anantara or be picked up at the Taksin (Sathorn) Central Pier at 19.45. We were staying at the Bossotel Hotel and walked to the Taksin/Sathorn pier to catch the complimentary shuttle boat service which runs to the Anantara (departures every 15 minutes). This meant we joined the cruise at the starting point and so were able to select where we wanted to sit on the boat. We were also given buttonholes and had souvenir photos taken at the Anantara pier with a lady in traditional Thai costume.
The cruise runs north along the Chao Phraya River as far as Rama VIII Bridge before turning around and heading back to the hotel (stopping at Taksin/Sathorn pier on request). The Manohra arrives back at the Anantara at approximately 22.00.
The boat passes a number of interesting buildings and landmarks and these are pointed out to you by the unobtrusive on-board commentary. Guests are also given a printed route guide and map which details what to look out for including, Wat Arun, the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo, the Royal Barges, Wat Pho and Santa Cruz Church. Many of these sights are beautifully illuminated at night and provide a lovely backdrop to the dining experience.
Guests can choose from two different set menus; gold or silver. We opted for the silver menu which consisted of the following courses:
Included in the price were two types of rice (red and white) and a choice of tea or coffee at the end of the meal. Other drinks (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) are charged separately.
The food on the silver menu was good and although each dish wasnâ€™t particularly big, my family felt that the portions provided were more than adequate for the average diner. The tom yam kung and the som tam lacked the spice and kick you would normally anticipate, but were still enjoyable.
The gold menu is currently priced at 1,990 Baht per person (995 for children) with the silver menu priced at 1,250 Baht (625 for children). This does not include service charge and tax which is approximately 17% in total and is added on to the bill at the end of your meal.
I booked directly with the cruise operator via their website at manohracruises.com. I emailed just three days before the required cruise date and received a confirmation email back almost immediately. Payment can be made on the boat at the end of the cruise. The booking process was very smooth and I liked the fact that we didnâ€™t have to pay in advance.
My family really enjoyed the Manohra dinner river cruise and we have no hesitation in recommending it for visitors to Bangkok. There are plenty of cheaper alternatives, especially if you want to go on a ‘party boat. However, for a relaxing and refined evening the Manohra dinner cruise is a good choice.
photos © thaizer.com
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