It's touristy I know, but just because something is made for the tourists doesn't mean its not fun! Dinner cruises along the Chao Praya are a staple of Bangkok. It's a combination of music, sailing, sightseeing, with a full buffet and a show.
If it's high tide and you choose the top floor when you check-in, expect an added extra, a bit of drama. These boats are 3 stories high. They carry up to 800 people. The bridges are low, one bridge in particular is a real limbo bridge, with boats almost crouching down as they pass under it.
You can see in the video, disco lights are lowered, flag poles bent over, and everyone ducks with people touching the steel as it pass over their heads.
But Bangkok on the river at night is magical in itself. Waterfront properties are all lit up, night markets like Asiatique add life to the river, and the pagodas and temples all sparkle in the darkness.
The easiest way to buy a ticket is part of a tour package, so Indo Thai Tours, a company I can vouch for, do the dinner cruise as part of their Bangkok package tours. But planning is not my strong point, I did not book ahead.
I just turned up at the pier at River City Mall, next to River City Pier, where these boats usually start from. At the front section of the mall there are tour offices, one for each of the cruise companies. Here you'll pay full price, no discount, making it an expensive ticket. 1400 baht per person and this is one of the cheaper cruises! If you booked this cruise through a travel agent, you'd pay 750-1000 baht a head.
The trick here is to head upstairs to River Side Cafe, located in the far corner floor 2 of the mall and buy your ticket there. The cafes and bars in this mall, all know the cruise operators, and can suggest a suitable cruise for you, with some cruise operators targeting different markets its worth having their advice. Selling the vouchers is a profitable side line for them.
My advice is to check-in early and ask for a top floor seat at the side of the boat. You'll enjoy the low bridges, the sights are clearer without glass between you and them, and you'll be more connected to the river.
Cruises start in the evening as the sun goes down, so arrive about 6pm ahead of the crowds and choose your cruise.