Besides BTS sky train and MRT subway lines, both sides of the Chao Phraya riverbanks are prime hotel locations in Bangkok. But what you get from staying near the river is not only a fantastic view but also a sense of Thai history.
Si Phraya pier is one of the busiest piers on the Chao Phraya river. The name ‘Si Phraya’ is derived from 4 Phraya (a title of high ranking government officials) who donated the land to build a road to connect with Charoen Krung Road. It was once the residential area of expatriates who lived and worked for the Thai royal court in the early 20th century.
Nowadays, you can still foreigners roaming about this area since it is where the Royal Orchid Sheraton hotel and the Grand Millennium Hilton hotel are located. Here, you will find high end antique shopping plaza, some heritage buildings, a riverside Catholic church, old European style shop houses and great local restaurants. All of them can be reached on foot.
The Si Phraya pier is, indeed, situated next to the Embassy of Portugal, which is the first diplomatic mission to be opened in Bangkok. The premises have been in Portuguese possession since 1820. It has a 19th century classical Sino-Portuguese building, which can be seen from the river. A 5 minute walk from the pier past the Sheraton hotel will lead you to the Holy Rosary Church. Built in Gothic style, this old Catholic church was built by the Portuguese on the land granted by King Rama I in 1786.
Also in the same area is River City Shopping Plaza. This shopping center is ideal for tourists who look for a place to buy Asian arts, antiques and high-quality products of Thailand. It also has a variety of restaurants and cafes with a view of the Chao Phraya River.
Along Charoen Krung road are local restaurants that have been operating in this area for decades. One of the oldest restaurants near the pier is a Japanese restaurant called Hanaya. It serves southern style cuisine from the island of Kyushu in Japan. The owners are a Japanese family that moved from Kyushu to Thailand more than 60 years ago. It is probably the oldest Japanese restaurant in Bangkok. It is not common to find a southern Japanese cuisine in Bangkok. It is, thus, worth a visit if you are a fan of Japanese food. (Direction: turn left after you leave the pier. Turn right after you walk past the Sheraton hotel. Walk toward a traffic light, then cross the road and walk about 50 meter. Look for a sign of the restaurant above your head. The restaurant is on your right).
Not far away from the pier is Bangkok Folk Museum. The double-storey house was built in 1937 in colonial style and converted into a museum in 2004. It offers a glimpse into the lifestyle of middle-class Bangkokians during World War II and displays records of the history of Bangkok. It is situated in Soi Charoen Krung Soi 43 opposite the General Post Office on Chaoren Krung Road. (Direction: Turn right after you leave the pier and walk toward the main road, which is Charoen Krung road. Turn right and continue walking for about 50 meter. Then you will see the General Post Office building on your right and Soi Charoen Krung Soi 43 on your left. Turn into a small street of this soi and continue walking for about five minutes. The museum is on your right- hand side.