River Festival 2015: our review

Last Saturday we dropped by the river to catch River Festival 2015 for second consecutive year. This event takes place in numerous venues across Chaopraya with the goal to spread the love for Loy Krathong and the river.

Even Loy Krathong takes place on 25 November, River Festival is already up and running since Saturday 21.

What is River Festival?

Wat Arun River Festival

Wat Arun River Festival

River Festival is an event that allows you to enjoy Loy Krathong festival in seven different venues across Chaopraya river. Along the way, you will learn more about Thai culture, enjoy Thai traditional dance, live music, Chinese performances, Thai crafts and more.

River Festival takes place in 4 temples and 3 shopping malls. The malls are:

  • Asiatique the Riverfront
  • Yodpiman River Walk
  • Tha Maharaj

The temples are:

  • Wat Prayurawongsawas
  • Wat Kalayanamitra
  • Wat Arun
  • Wat Po

We created this video with some of the highlights of River Festival.

If for some reason you cannot play the previous video, you can find it here on YouTube.

Grab the boat and go

River Festival Shuttle boat at Asiatique

River Festival Shuttle boat at Asiatique

One of the main appeals of River Festival is the free shuttle boat service. It runs every 20-30 minutes from 16:00 to 22:00 every day but on Loy Krathong, when it will finish one hour later, at 23:00.

The shuttle boat operates two different routes, so it is important to ask the River Festival staff before hopping into the first one that comes near you.

  • The Route 1 picks up passengers from Asiatique and Central Pier to drop them at Yodpiman River Walk.
  • Route 2 is a loop between all the different venues but Asiatique. That is, Yodpiman, Wat Po, Tha Maharaj, Wat Arun Wat Kalaya and Wat Prayoon.
Wat Arun sunset

Wat Arun sunset

If you are taking this chance to take some photos or just to enjoy the scenic view, our recommendation is that you don’t hurry to get off the boat, or else the night will fall and your chance to make good photos from a moving boat will be reduced.

The whole journey of the Route 2 is kind of long, but dropping at each venue will take you at least 30 minutes unless you are really lucky and your next boat arrives just when you leave.

Temples by the night

Wat Po by night

Wat Po by night

When the night comes you will get a unique chance to visit well-known temples with a new light. Sightseeing by night has its benefits too. It is less hot and the illumination makes the details shine in a new way. Also, this is a good chance to see the Reclining Buddha more privately, as there are not so many tourists as during daytime.

Be advised, however, that foreigners are required to buy the 100 Baht ticket to enter to Wat Po, unlike last year when it was totally free. It is not a big sum, but it kind of spoils the atmosphere of festivity.

Thai culture

Thai instruments

Thai instruments

Each venue has its own schedule of events. You can check the detailed schedule on the website of River Festival (although some are only available in Thai).

In any case, the main activities of each venue are:

  • Asiatique: Moon Lake Floating, tunnel of twinkling stars and fireworks display
  • Yodpiman River Walk: House of flowers, tunnel of flowers and boat of flowers
  • Tha Maharaj: Live music and cinema by the river
  • Wat Po: Demonstration of traditional Thai crafts and arts
  • Wat Arun: Al-fresco cinema, making of Buddha image process, live band
  • Wat Kalayanamitra: Old school market and Chinese performances
  • Wat Prayurawongsawas: Food stalls and performances

It is technically impossible to see it all, as many of the shows take place on different venues at the same time. If you really want to see most of it, you will have to go more than once.

As we mentioned before, the detailed schedule for each venue is not available in English, so you will have some trouble planning ahead what you want to see. You can try to use a translator or just go with the flow and enjoy whichever show you come across. It’s more exciting that way.


Still not convinced on what can you see here? Here you have some of the snaps we took.

These are some tweets we wrote on the spot.


River Festival can be a little confusing and even frustrating at times, but this is a small price to pay for the experiences that you will get for free. Surely it can improve and be better organized, but being a free event you get a lot in exchange of nothing but your time.

Our recommendation? Just go. You don’t need to drop at every venue -and you shouldn’t- but at least go to some of them and enjoy the fresh air, the free shows and old school markets.

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