The Chao Phraya is a major river in Thailand, known as the 'River of Kings', an ancient waterway that is steeped in history and legend.

This is a river that inspired such literary luminaries as Noel Coward, Joseph Conrad and Somerset Maugham. It is best known for flowing through the frenetic Thai capital of Bangkok, but it flows for over two hundred miles from Nakhon Sawan all the way to the Gulf of Thailand.

There is a lot of river traffic especially in Bangkok where ferries provide an antidote to the city's road congestion. Along with its tributaries and the numerous canals, or klongs, that come off the main waterway the Chao Phraya forms the largest watershed in the country.

Due to human habitation and other activities much of the original wildlife is no longer visible. Species that still inhabit the river include a rare species of catfish as well as birds such as the Asian Openbill and the Black Kite, plus the Limestone Rat, Neill's Long-tailed Giant Rat and the Thailand Roundleaf Bat.

Where is it?
The Chao Phraya River originates at the confluence of the Ping and Nan rivers at Nakhon Sawan and then flows for around 230 miles across the central plains to Bangkok and ultimately into the Gulf of Thailand.

What is it?
The Chao Phraya is a world famous river than runs through the heart of Thailand and its main city of Bangkok, a river that overflows with the romance of some of the world's greatest ever writers.

Best time to visit?
December and January are the best times to visit when the average low temperature in Bangkok dips to around 20C. The mercury rises with the arrival of the rains in April and May, with the monsoon season (which goes on to October) seeing daytime temperatures regularly rising towards 35C and above.

Must see?
Taking a trip on one of the Chao Phraya River Express ferries is the best way to really get a feel for this great river. They escape the city's relentless traffic and take you back to another Bangkok, an experience that can be finished off with lunch alongside the ghosts of Conrad, Maugham and Coward at the famous Oriental Hotel.

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Chao Phraya River, Bangkok