A moonlight dinner cruise down the mighty Chao Phraya River is the most leisurely and romantic way to view the sights of old-time Bangkok that line the banks on either side. The Grand Palace, Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) and many other Chinese inspired temples are brightly lit and make an amazing backdrop. Anantara’s Manohra Cruise adds a touch of luxury to the proceedings with a sit-down banquet and traditional, warm Thai service on board one of three restored antique rice barges.
The boat begins at Anantara Riverside Hotel at 19:30 and sails upstream to make a second pick-up at Saphan Taksin Pier around 19:45. Guests are welcomed on board and shown into their wicker seats by waiting staff dressed in traditional Thai attire; each subtle touch hints at an old-world ambiance that is so pleasantly different to some of the bigger, brighter, faster cruises also running the river through the city and up to the Rama Eight Bridge. Another pleasing element to the Manohra Cruise is that every table has river views so no one need strain their neck to enjoy the sights.
Award-winning Thai chef Chumpon Jangprai has created two seperate menus – The Silver Set and Gold Set – that run through the best of Thai cuisine with dishes tailored to suit Thai or Western palates (If you are a foreigner and like the spicier, more traditional Thai taste, be sure to inform a waiter). Because food is served in courses it is recommended to order both sets and share so that you can enjoy as many delicious recipes as possible as the menus are fixed and there are some real stand-out dishes on both.
While diners are getting comfortable and reading the drinks menu, an exotic assortment of chillis, garlic, onions and nuts are served on an ornate tray with crunchy betel leaves for wrapping and a sweet tamarind dipping sauce. It’s a fiery introduction to the meal and suits a crisp dry white wine, such as the sauvignon blanc that is available by the glass for 360 baht, or choose a bottle from a reasonable list of new and old world red and whites. The standard drinks menu is a full four pages, with a complete range of beers, spirits, juices and Manohra’s signature cocktail list.
The starter is served just as the majestic Wat Arun is visible up ahead with Chinese temples nearby discernible by their glowing red lanterns. Again, the starter is served in an ornate tray with three or four individual snacks to get started. Both the Gold and Silver menus have a nice mixture of tastes, but the Gold menu features more fish based dishes. A grilled eggplant salad with a delicious mince of chicken and prawn stands out on the Silver menu, while on the Gold, the deep fried fish cakes with red curry paste is a flavoursome recipe with crunchy pickled cucumber to add a fresh touch.
The soup course is either spicy tom yam kung with king river prawns for the Gold set or a creamy coconut-based chicken with galangal (tom kha gai) for the Silver which is enjoyed as the boat floats past the majestic Grand Palace on your right hand side. This beautiful palace glitters under soft lighting and again reinforces the feeling of old-world Thailand.
The appearance of some of the main course dishes lacks the elegance of the cruise and surroundings but when it comes to the taste, no-one will be disappointed. On the Silver menu, the stand-out dish is the grilled marinated duck fillet that is thick cut in a sweet, sticky tamarind sauce and accompanied by asparagus and shallots. The Gold menu has two seafood -based dishes – large stir fried scallops come roasted with chilli and sweet basil, and – my personal favourite – three cuts of fish rolled together with ‘chu-chee’ curry and garnished with kaffir lime leaves. The dry, meaty mackerel is distinct from the softer, juicer sea bass and creates some wonderful flavours.
All this is enjoyed as the boat reaches the modern Rama Eight suspension bridge and turns around for a slow cruise back downriver. The staff on board the Manohra are very attentive and will adjust the cruising speed accordingly so that Wat Arun can be enjoyed between the main and dessert course. It makes a delightful backdrop for a photograph to remember your evening.
After a lovely mango and sticky rice dessert, diners have three choices of where to debark: Asiatique night market, Saphan Taksin Pier or Anantara Riverside Resort. This flexibility is a real plus point for Manohra, and allows visitors who have limited time in Bangkok to enjoy the cruise and the best night market in city together in one night. The Manohra Dinner Cruise isn’t the biggest or fastest boat in the water, and that is part of the charm, as diners can sit back in their chairs, relax and watch the world of past kings flow gracefully by.
- Opening Hours: Cruise Starts 19:30 from Anantara Riverside Pier
- Address: Anantara Bangkok Riverside - 257/1-3 Charoennakorn Road Bangkok
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Anantara Bangkok Riverside
Set on a massive plot of land along the banks of the Chao Praya River, Anantara Bangkok Riverside Resort & Spa provides enough reasons to never leave the hotel, with 11 separate restaurants and bars, beautiful pool area fringed by palms, tennis court and fully equipped gym with planned activities.Add to this the famous Anantara Spa with a range of treatments and Crayon, a staffed childrens playroom, and you have activities to please the whole family.With many elements of Thai design mixed with a profusion of wood and high ceilings straight from the colonial era, the low-rise resort feels separated from the hustle of downtown Bangkok, even though it is only a 15 minute boat ride to the pier and BTS Station at Saphan Taksin. Read More...