The National Museum of the Royal Barges is located on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya river near the Pinklao bridge. The Royal Barges are displayed in a large Khlong side boat shed. The museum was established in 1971 after restoration work was carried out on the barges.
There are 8 barges, each carved from huge pieces of teak. Each barge has a plaque describing the name, it’s technical details, the number of crew and its history. The boats are rowed by up to 61 oarsmen and have up to 17 additional crew members. The boats are only used now on special occasions. They are still used for important ceremonies of state.
Some of the barges have mythical creatures gilded in gold carved on their prows with a cannon below the creature. Each of the barges has a name. The Suphannahongse is the King’s personal barge and is the most important. It is the largest dugout boat in the world and the name means Golden Swan. A large swan head has been carved into the prow.
The Suphannahongse Royal Barge was completed in 1911 during the reign of King Rama VI. It is 46.15 meters in length and requires 50 oarsmen and 14 crew.
The Krabj Prab Muang Mara Barge is 28.85 meters in length. It requires 36 oarsmen & 17 crew. It was completed in 1967.
The Narai Song Suban H.M. King Rama IX is 43.30 meters in length requiring 50 oarsmen & 14 crew. It was constructed in 1996 for the golden jubilee of King Rama IX.
The Anantanakaraj Royal Barge was built in 1914 during the reign of King Rama VI. The barge has a length of 44.85 meters. It is crewed by 54 oarsmen & 18 crew.
The Aaora Vayuphak Barge is 31 meters in length and requires 38 oarsmen and a crew of 17. The original date of construction is unknown but it was restored in 1981-82.
The Annekatchatphuchong Royal Barge is 45.67 meters long and needs 61 oarsmen & 14 crew. It was constructed during the reign of King Rama V.
There is also an exhibition on the history of the barges featuring items such as ceremonial uniforms, ancient prow figurehead sculptures, thrones, oars, a model of the Royal Barge Procession and the remains of some ancient barges.
The museum has no cafe though there are some nearby refreshment outlets in the local community just outside the gate. Admission is 100 baht. If you want to take photographs you have to buy a photo ticket at 100 baht or for video 200 baht.
There are several ways to get to the museum. The best way is to take the Chao Phraya Express Boat to Phra Pin Klao Pier (N12), then it’s a short walk to the museum. Turn left into Somdet Phra Pin Klao Soi 1 (Soi Wat Dusitram), the route is signposted from there. Follow the path through a local community. It’s quite safe.
After 10 minutes, you will arrive at the museum. You could also take a motorbike taxi at the mouth of the soi. You can also walk over the Pin Klao bridge with access from Phra Athit road next to the tourist office, take the cross-river ferry from there or take a bus over the bridge disembarking at the first stop.
Location: 80/1 Arun Amarin Road.
Opening Hours: 09.00-17.00 daily
Admission: 100 baht
Rules: No photography unless you purchase a photo pass at the ticket office.
Walk: Access through Somdet Phra Pin Klao Soi 1 (Soi Wat Dusitram), the museum is signposted from here.
Boat: Chao Phraya Express Boat to Phra Pin Klao Pier (N12). Then Walk as above or take a motorbike taxi.
River Taxi: You can hire a river taxi to the Royal Barge Museum Pier.
Bus: 57, 79, 80, 81, 91, 123, 124, 127, 147, 149, 507, 509, 511, then walk or take motorbike.