BY SHRUTI KOTHARI
Drift through the city’s stunning skyline in true luxury.
Anyone who’s spent time in Bangkok will know about the thumping beats, interspersed with Bollywood bangers, wafting up into the night sky as hordes of tourists take to the water to dance until dawn. This guide avoids those buffet-laden, sweat-soaked affairs like the plague. We are talking about sophistication, gourmet gastronomy, evenings that would delight even the most discerning locals, like us. Our major rule was to only explore cruises offering set menus, with full vegetarian menus available, too. After personally working through all options, we’ve narrowed it down to four favourites that we are confident you will enjoy.
The Pruek Cruise
Ideal for: a decadent romantic adventure
The vibe in three words: OPULENT, DYNAMIC, FINE DINING
The Pruek Cruise is a stunning, three-storey teak wood yacht with a variety of rooms and nooks to explore, like the champagne bar, the private balcony, the rooftop garden, and the air-conditioned chef prep section, where you can observe the meticulous culinary experts crafting the delights soon to be on your plate. Note that the star-studded cast of chefs makes this cruise excellent for foodies. The sheer size and variety of all the different areas, enhanced with trendy lounge music, lends a sense of enigma and discovery to the entire evening.
You begin with a glass of Piper-Heidsieck champagne, and if you opt for the wine free-flow, as you make your way through the multitude of courses, the highly attuned servers automatically switch to white wine, and then red, unless otherwise stated. I chose the vegetarian menu, available upon request, and the team found me wandering across the deck with the correct canapes; I was impressed each member had been briefed on my dietary needs.
The food is Michelin-level indulgent, with tiny and intriguing morsels to start, including a piquant pickled beetroot bite. A spicy mushroom salad with a beetroot crisp, and a gingery soft tofu item followed. The main was Massaman curry served with pickled aubergine and rice in a banana leaf, but the crown jewel of the meal was its dessert. An innovative take on mango and sticky rice, the play of textures and flavours, including mango mousse and buttery biscuit crumble, took my breath away.
Time: runs every day from6.45pm to 9pm, runs every Saturday
Boarding and Drop-off: Icon Siam Pier 2
Price: THB 4,500 with free-flow cocktails, or THB 4,900 with free-flow wine
For more information: visit www.pruekcruise.com
Got a Party?
Host between 30 and 45 guests with rates starting at THB 100,000 for the Thai Lunch Set or Afternoon Tea, THB 110,000 for the Western Lunch Set, THB 120,000 for the Heavy Cocktail Canapes, THB 125,000 for the Thai Dinner Set, and THB 135,000 for the Western Dinner Set. Pruek also offers bespoke services including flower decorations, live entertainment, and photography and videography.
The Dinner River Cruise by Manohra Cruises
Ideal for: showing your overseas guests the rich culture of our city.
The vibe in three word: INTIMATE, ILLUMINATING, BUSTLING
Run by the five-star Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort, the Manohra Cruisesuse expertly restored wooden rice barges, single-storey structures which allow you to observe not only the glittering night lights of the surroundings, but also the captain steering away at the old-world wheel. The boat drifts from Asiatique to the Grand Palace, giving you the entire scope of Bangkok’s architecture, new and old.
I recommend arriving a little early at the pier, which opens up to Longtail by the River, a low-lit al fresco bar at the resort. Once you board, you’re shown to your seats, which line the sides to ensure that all guests are right by the river throughout their experience. Moreover, a guide with a microphone helps narrate the key moments of the journey, so you can immerse yourself in more than just the aesthetics. Traditional Thai music is played throughout the cruise.
The Delightful Thai Set Menu (I tried the vegetarian option, available upon request), comes with free-flow water and soft drinks, and five vastly varied courses. The first is traditional Miang kam bai cha plu, which provides a delicious, interactive opener to whet the appetite. The starters include a flavourful mushroom skewer and pomelo salad, and the following Tom yum soup, doesn’t shy away from spice. The main includes three dishes, including deep-fried tofu in a sticky sauce, and light sauteed greens.The dessert is a fresh take on the classic, with sliced mango and sticky rice in wontons covered in powdered sugar.
Time: runs every day from 7.30pm to 9.30pm, runs every day
Boarding and Drop-off: Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort Pier
Price: THB 2,800
More options:try different menus, from the Classic Menu with Wine Pairing, to the Gourmet Menu with Premium Wine Pairing.
For more information:visit www.manohracruises.com
Got a Party?
Host up to 60 people, contact Manohra for more information on options and prices.
The Dinner Champagne Taittinger Cruise by the Supanniga Cruise
Ideal for: a well-spent evening with friends
The vibe in three words: LAID-BACK, AUTHENTIC, SUMPTUOUS
The Supanniga Eating Room, already a favourite amongst locals who truly know Thai cuisine, recently upped its offerings by deciding to serve its delectable Eastern and Isan fare onboard a spacious, two-floor, 40-person barge. The boat itself is a testament to local heritage, fitted with traditional elements like Mudmee silk, woven wood, and terracotta, combined in an elegant, contemporary manner. The journey takes you beyond Asiatique on one end, and the gleaming Rama VIII Bridge on the other, allowing diners to experience the breadth of the cityscape in a non-intrusive fashion. Expect relaxing, contemporary lounge music.
As soon as you board, you will be welcomed with a cool, crisp glass of Taittinger Champagne to enjoy the gentle waves with. The fully-stocked bar is on the lower level, and once you’re done with your bubbly, consider getting a cocktail, or five; they’re crafted in collaboration with Vesper, known to have some of Bangkok’s best mixologists.
The six-course meal is a full-bodied affair. The vegetarian menu (available upon request) begins with Chor Supanniga, a delicate flower-shaped mushroom dumpling, followed by three mini appetizers, the highlight of which was the Kratong tong, a crispy cup filled with a zesty minced mushroom salad.
The soup course, a spicy Tom kha with tender protein strips, was the perfect precursor to a hefty main course. I was given five different dishes, ranging from green curry to deep-fried tofu to kale, each a standout in its category. The ending mango and sticky rice, with the fruit cut like a rose, is followed by petit fours and organic tea.
Time: runs every day from6.15pm to 8.15pm, runs every day
Boarding and Drop-off: River City Pier 2
Price: THB 3,250
More options:try the Mekhong Evening Cocktail Cruise at THB 700 net, the Evening Afternoon Tea Cruise at THB 700 net, or the Evening Champagne Taittinger Cruise at THB 1,550 net.
For more information: visit www.supannigacruise.com
Got a Party?
Host up to 40 with an hour-long afternoon tea or a cocktail at THB 28,000 net; the Champagne Taittinger Cruise at THB 59,000 net; or the two-hour Dinner Champagne Taittinger Cruise at THB 120,000 net.
The Saffron Cruise
Ideal for: impressing people, from parents to business associates or your partner
The vibe in three words: CLASSY, CONTEMPORARY, COMPREHENSIVE
Run by the longstanding favourite, Banyan Tree Bangkok, the two-storey Saffron Cruise is brand new. The entirely al fresco upper deck has a variety of seating, from bar stools to plush couches, so you can choose your own adventure. The glowing central Moon Deck is breathtaking, and the Sky Bridge on the far end gives you uninterrupted access to views. Up here, the talented DJ gives new texture to the latest songs as well as old classics.
The welcome cocktail is a delicious tom yum-flavoured drink, and served with bar snacks to whet the appetite. Either make your way down the extensive drinks list, crafted by thoughtful mixologists, or indulge in a bottle of wine to add extra magic to your evening.
Dinner is served downstairs in the air-conditioned, traditional hall with sweeping windows and an open kitchen so you can watch the chefs at work. A few cultural performances as well as Thai music enhance the delectable local fare, and the stark difference from the top deck creates a comprehensive, two-toned experience. End-to-end service includes servers washing your hands at the table with floral-scented water, and a designated photographer who takes your picture at the best spots. The meal is gourmet, with innovative twists, starting with crispy house-made crackers, tamarind jam and chili mayo, a beautiful pomelo salad, and my favorite, a zesty soft tofu appetizer. When the staff ask you if you’d like to take your dessert upstairs, say yes; you’ll be able to enjoy the sweet end right by the lapping waves.
Time: runs every day from7.10pm to 10.10pm, runs every day
Boarding and Drop-off: Icon Siam Pier 2
Price: THB 3,200 net
More options: enjoy Bangkok in a new light with the Sunset Cruise from 5.30pm to 7pm at THB 550 net.
For more information: call 02 679 1200, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Got a Party?
Host up to 150 guests on this capacious cruise, with prices starting at THB 250,000++.