THE UNUSUAL EXPERIENCE OF SAILING ABOARD A RICE BARGE WITH THE BANGKOK MANOHRA OVERNIGHT CRUISE


Manohra Overnight CruiseHow would you like a change from spending a few nights in a regular hotel room in Bangkok City to something more exotic and for a romantic experience in Thailand? If you are looking for an exotic travel experience in Thailand then look no further than the special tour offered by Thaitourismguide on board the Bangkok Manohra Overnight Cruise for 3 Days and 2 Nights on board a refurbished authentic river rice barge!

This is the original restored to pristine condition river barge of which there are very few left in the entire Thailand today. These river barges were used in the olden days to ferry rice brought to the ports along the Chao Phraya River from various inland provinces. The rice in sacks were collected from these ports and brought to the central port in Bangkok for exports and supplies to other provinces further South and to the east and West of Thailand as sailing down the river was a lot faster than travelling by road. In those days there were no such things a cars, bikes and Lorries so this was the most efficient and convenient way to transport goods from the upper regions of Thailand all the way South to the river mouth.
Bangkok Manohra Overnight Cruise 3D2NThese barges are made of teak and iron wood and recent refurbishment includes new polished wooden decks, stylish and cosy decorated sleeping quarters, a dining lounge, sitting lounge and a fully equipped Western kitchen. Living on board one of these refurbished rice barges is like riding on the famed Orient Express but without the high cost. The bedrooms are wonderfully designed like mini staterooms for all that creature comfort. The lounge and dining areas are luxuriously decorated by maritime standards and there are loungers on deck where you can while away your time as the barge sails up the mighty Chao Phraya River all the way to Ayutthaya. The rice barge Manohra can accommodate up to 40 persons comfortably. Please note that the barge sails only on Mondays and Thursdays. It requires a two night’s overnight stay on board and three sailing days.

As this is a live on board tour it is good to pack light and bring some appropriate clothing for visits to the temples and a good camera to bring back those memorable memories. Your tour starts on day one with the arrival at the Manohra Cruises Pier located in front of the Bangkok Marriott Resort & Spa. Free river taxi transfers from Taksin Public Pier to Manohra Cruises pier are available every 15 minutes. With prior arrangements, you can arrange for a transfer service to and from the Manohra Cruises Piers or Taksin Public Pier at your conveniences.

Once on board you will meet your friendly and experienced Manohra Song Chief Steward and the crew who will be looking after you on your trip and making you feel comfortable. A nice ice cold fresh fruit cocktail and lemon grass scented towels will be waiting for you to make you feel right at home on board.
Bangkok Manohra Overnight Cruise 3D2NYou will admire the construction of the Manohra Rice Barge with its gleaming wood finish giving an aura of a romantic venue for a unique and cultural Thai experience. As you depart the pier the Manohra will gently sail on the Chao Phraya River, also known as the River of Kings as it introduces you to the City of Angels, the other name for Bangkok city, and by night it is a spectacular and memorable experience!

On board your meals are served with dazzling Thai delicacies to give you a delightful, cultural dining experience while In route you will experience and enjoy the endless variety of river life, enjoy the sights of iconic landmarks such as the famous Wat Arun (The Temple of Dawn) , the magnificent Grand Palace , the Royal Barges Museum and boat-house, and numerous other Temples.

The first leg of your journey along the Choa Phraya River will see you embarking at the Temple of Dawn or Wat Arun as it is otherwise known around 10.50 in the morning. This is one of the best known temples in Bangkok and dates back to the ancient Ayutthaya period. The tall, elongated central Khmer-Style spire or prang is surrounded by four minor spires, Mount Meru, the earthly representation of the thirty-three heavens. Here you will find pavilions containing statues of the Buddha at the most important stages of life. The beautiful architecture and fine craftsmanship mark Wat Arun as one of the most remarkable temples in Thailand. You will stop here for a short guided tour and depart at around 11:30 am.

While you are visiting Wat Arun, make a note of the exquisite craftsmanship in the embellishment of the façade with porcelain and glass pieces. This is what gives the temple it’s golden hue during sunrise and sunset and when the lights are on at night it glows with a beautiful golden colour. Also make a note of all the statues of Gods and Deities and you will notice that some of them are of Chinese origin. If you have the energy, do try and climb the stairs of the central prang all the way to the top and you will get a great view of the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, and the view of the Chao Phraya as far as your eyes can see and a great 360 degree view of Bangkok City. The steps are fairly steep and narrow but there are rail guards to assist you so that you can hold on to it. Along the interiors towards the entrance you might also get a chance to have your fortune from some of the local Thai fortune tellers but off course for a fee.
Manohra CruiseNext you will arrive at the Royal Barges national Museum. This is one of Bangkok’s most fascinating museum and something you will not see anywhere else in the world. The museum is home to an incredible collection of ornately decorated long barges with magnificently carved prows. His Majesty the King’s personal barge, Suphannahongse, can be seen here. Built in 1911 to resemble a mythical swan, the boat is 46 meters long and was carved from a single tree. All the barges are unique and incredible works of craftsmanship. These barges are used only for ceremonial purposes now and have been sailed 16 times during the reign of the present HRH King Bhumipol. The last was last year in December 2012 for the presentation of the Royal Kathin robes to the monks at Wat Arun. These Royal Barges ceremonies are epic events involving around 54 barges of various classes and sailed in special naval war formations as from times of old. It is truly a magnificent sight when these barges are in the water and sailing down the Chao Phraya River.

By the time you finish the tour of the Royal Barges Museum it would be time for lunch and you will enjoy the Thai cuisine prepared by your personal on-board chef. Shortly after your lunch, the Manohra song will pass the island of Koh Kret in Nonthaburi Province, an island which was “man-made” in the last 100 years when a canal was built to shorten the journey around a circuitous bend in the river. The island is populated by Mon people; one of Thailand’s many ethnic minority groups, who use the river’s fine clay to produce earthenware pots. You can spend the afternoon relaxing on board, watching the vignettes of river life unfold as they float by and at 4 pm you will be served a traditional English afternoon tea of finger sandwiches, scones and dainty patisseries, with a good selection of teas.

After tea at around 4.30 pm, the barge will make a quick stop at Wat Pathum Khong Ka to feed the fish. You can purchase bread from the vendors around the area to feed the fish. The Thai people believe that this is a good way of gaining merit and good luck. It is also believe to promote the Buddhist cycle of life by feeding the fish so they in turn can produce life. You will be amazed by the size of some of these carps and no wonder as so many people come here to feed them all the time!

The last leg of your journey for the day is a stop at Wat Bang Nam around 5.30 in the evening where you can enjoy the beautiful sunsets while the barge docks for the night. Wat Bang Na was constructed in 1777 by a family who moved from Ayutthaya. One of the more curious sights within the compound of this temple is the body of the 4th chief monk of this temple who died in 1988 but whose mummified body remains in excellent condition and is today housed in a glass enclosure.

At this point you can relax and freshen up in your private en-suite stateroom and then return to the deck for aperitifs and Thai canapés and wait for dinner to be served at 8.00pm with Wat Bang Na as a dramatic backdrop for a wonderful dinner of Thai traditional dishes. You can relax on deck and mingle with the other guest while having a glass of wine before retiring to your state room for your night on the river.

The second day of your Thai culture and tradition experience on board the Manohra will start with an early morning exploration of Wat Bang Na at 7.30 am. The Thai Buddhists believe that by making merit, they earn happiness, peace in life and the chance to progress in their next life. Making merit with the Monks is a wonderfully harmonious way to start the day.  By 8.00am you will be sailing your way to the ancient Thai capital of Ayutthaya. At this time you will be served a scrumptious array of freshly prepared continental breakfast while experiencing a morning of gentle cruising up the Chao Phraya , through the Thai countryside while relaxing and reclining on a deck lounger and watch he river life float past.

Before arriving in the capital city of Ayutthaya in the province of Ayutthaya, you will be served an Italian luncheon of pasta and salad at around 1.00pm. You will arrive at Wat Pananchoeng around 2.00pm to begin your tour of Wat Pananchoeng which is an old monastery housing Thailand’s largest ancient Buddha image. This image, known as Luang Po To was made in 1344 and the Chinese revere this image as their God Protector since much of the sailing done during these ancient times along the Chao Phraya was by the Chinese who used to ply their goods between province via the river into the capital port of Bangkok. After the tour of the Wat a limousine with an English speaking guide will then transfer you to Ayutthaya, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The ancient city of Ayutthaya was founded in 1350 by King U-Thong and it was from here that the Siamese ruled their Kingdom for 417 years.

You will have the opportunity to spend the afternoon exploring Ayutthaya in the company of the expert guide. You will even have the opportunity to experience riding on the back of an elephant at the ancient city temple. As Ayutthaya is such a large area, the limousine driver will wait for you and take you on a tour of several areas of the ancient city. You will spend around three hours in this place before meeting up with the limousine to transfer you to Bang Pa In, one of the 16 districts of Ayutthaya where you will meet up with the Manohra Song. Along the way, you may wish to buy a bag of fish or a cage of small birds for you to release back to nature as this is a wonderful gesture and makes merit according to Buddhist beliefs.

Across from Bang Pa In is Wat Nivat which is one of the more intriguing Buddhist temples and this is where the barge will anchor for the night. Wat Nivat was constructed at the command of King Rama V in 1878, in the style of an English Gothic church. The Temple has unusual stained glass windows and very Gothic façade architecture making it one of the most distinctive Buddhist temples anywhere in Thailand. You can relax on board the barge or freshen up and later return on deck at around 6.30 pm for another nice selection of aperitifs and Asian-inspired canapés. You can mingle or take some beautiful pictures on board of the Temple and have a quiet evening while waiting for dinner to be served at around 8.00pm which will be an Ayutthaya-inspired Thai dinner.

The third day on board will be an 8.00 am wake up for a taste of a full English breakfast, freshly prepared to your order from the Manohra Song kitchen. There is nothing better and more wonderful than experiencing a wonderful breakfast on board a rice barge docked at the pier with a beautiful view of the Gothic temple in the background that is such an inspiration to the start for a beautiful day. After breakfast at 9.30 am you will have a guided tour of Wat Nivat and a short walk to the Bang Pa-In Summer Palace. The original Bang Pa-In Palace was built by King Thong on the island and was used as a country residence for the later kings of the Ayutthaya period. However, after the capital moved to Bangkok, the summer palace was vacated. After the tour of this palace, you will make your way back to the Manohra Song for a straight sail back to Bangkok city and dock at the Manohra Cruise pier for your transfer back to the hotel.

The Manohra Rice Barge live on board river cruise is one of the most interesting and innovative ways to get a complete tour of iconic landmarks along the Choa Phraya River and to have an insight into the life along the river which is seldom seen if you travel by road to the landmarks. The cruise gives you a unique opportunity to experience what river sailors of old underwent when sailing this formidable river. Do not miss out on the chance to get on board the Manohra River Barge for the holiday experience in Thailand of a life time.

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