Taking a dinner cruise along the romantic Chao Phraya River usually figures high up on most Bangkok visitors’ itineraries. Despite the plethora of dinner cruises ploughing up and down the river, Wanfah Dinner Cruise seems to stand out from the pack. This is one of the few companies that still maintain a traditional take on the Thai dinner cruise concept.
Instead of a luxurious and high-tech cruiser, Wanfah is an open-air antique teakwood barge lavishly fitted out and inspired by traditional Lanna architecture; serving its guests authentic Thai dishes instead the usual international buffet. And instead of pop tunes and stage shows, Wanfah’s guests are entertained by classical Thai music and cultural performances. Needless to say, this is one of the most traditional and romantic dinner cruises on the Chao Phraya River.
Our meeting point was at the River City Shopping Complex, next to the Shangri-La Hotel. Once on board, Wanfah’s traditionally-attired hostesses greeted us with a ‘wai’ (the Thai, hands-together greeting). Wanfah's interior decoration is impressive and with a capacity of 120 persons, the vessel boasts Bangkok’s largest open-air dinner cruise.
- Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Tour
- Banyan Tree's Apsara Dinner Cruise
- Vertigo & Moon Bar Rooftop Dining
- Ayutthaya Ancient Capital Tour with River Cruise
- Shangri-La Hotel's Buffet Dinner Cruise
- Bridge on the River Kwai & Historic Railway Tour
- Siam Niramit Dinner Show
- Calypso Bangkok Cabaret Show
- Chao Phraya River Dinner Cruise
- Grand Palace & Emerald Buddha Half-Day Tour
Bangkok Riverside Attractions
As an open barge, Wanfah affords a lot of space and opportunity for guests to snap away at some of Bangkok’s stunning riverside attractions. The highlights include Wat Arun (the Temple of Dawn), the Royal Thai Navy Headquarter Buildings, the Royal Grand Palace, Wat Phra Keaw (the Emerald Buddha Temple), Phra Sumen Fort, and the stunning Rama VIII Bridge. A knowledgeable guide gives interesting facts and information at each site along the trip.
It wasn’t long before our appetizers arrived; a mouth-watering Thai starter basket filled with vegetable spring rolls and minced chicken in pastry cups. Shortly after, we were served the famous tom yum kung (spicy prawn soup). I am not usually a big fan of hot and spicy dishes, but this was my favourite of all the evening's food. The mixture of flavours was just right and kept me wanting more and more! My mouth was on fire but that is exactly how Thai food is supposed to taste like.
By the time we finished off our soups, the main course was served. The delightful platter of Thai food included steamed rice, massaman chicken curry, stir-fried vegetables with seafood, and hor mok (steamed fish in banana leaf). All were delicious, especially the hor mok – the flavours reminded me of my Grandmother's cooking when I was young.
As the barge approached the Rama VIII Bridge, tropical fresh fruit with a choice of coffee or tea was served. This is where the boat made a turn and headed back to the River City Pier, though this was not the end of the cruise.
Entertaining Cultural Shows
Classical Thai dancing ensues. A young, beautifully dressed Thai lady recounts the background story or history of each piece before it starts. Four performances, including the famous Khon mask number, are held with stories taken from the Ramakien epic – a proven crowd pleaser. The audience was also encouraged to participate.
For the past two hours, this dinner cruise has covered all the details: a good atmosphere, delicious food, fantastic sights along the route, and entertaining cultural shows. An evening spent on a Wanfah Dinner Cruise is truly an unforgettable Thai experience.