While in Bangkok, my fiancee and I stumbled upon a very pleasant surprise of a gem, a private gondola ride on the Chao Phraya River! This was one of those scary but happy surprises that remind us to go with the flow when traveling.
Originally, we planned to visit the Grand Royal Palace, but much to our disappointment, we arrived at 3:40PM, and the palace grounds closed at 3:30PM. What luck. After walking up to the entrance, a very friendly police officer started talking to us, asking where we were from and what we had done in Bangkok so far. He then told us that we want to go see the river, and spoke to a local walking by instructing him (in Thai) to take us to the river boats.
This was a little strange to us, but we wanted to see the river, so we followed the local. He was very nice, and stopped every time we fell behind. We then approached a market where he told us to follow him, that the river is inside. We both looked at each other a little bit confused, wondering if this was a translation issue or even a scam. But our local guide lead us straight up to a tour desk and told us to have fun. What a nice guy!
The lady at the ticket counter talked us into an hour tour around the Chao Phraya River so that we can see the floating market, surrounding temples, and canals. The tour cost about $70 all together, but we figured it was a must see in order to experience all of Bangkok. Plus we were exhausted from negotiating at the Weekend Market earlier in the day. So we signed up; she gave us each a loaf of bread to feed the fish, and a drink for the road.
We were then rushed to the dock where we got our own private gondola! We were still a little bit confused about the whirlwind that went on, and how we got our own boat, but the ride was so much fun. We saw so many sights that we can only experience on the water. I bought a little Thai fan from the floating market, we fed thousands of catfish, were squirted by children with squirt guns, and even waved to a few young monks. We took tons of photos and giggled the whole way how we stumbled on this little gem.