Most visitors to Bangkok will experience a ride on the Chao Phraya Express boats. These long, sleek, wooden, commuter boats, with their dramatically raked bows, are a staple of the river's traffic.
They can also be very crowded and, with many stops, a bit of a challenge to the tourist. A popular alternative is the tourist boats. These vessels have a more limited route and series of stops, all of which are near important tourist destinations such as the Grand Palace and Wat Arun, the Temple of the Dawn.
Recently, the owners have introduced two new tourist boats, CTB 1 and CTB 2, which will dramatically enhance the riverine experience. With a 29.6-metre length and a 4.9-metre beam, they are wider than some commuter Express Boats with similar length but as little as 2.7 metres on the beam.
The new tourist boats includes a top deck seating area as well as a top mounted wheelhouse. This gives them a total seating capacity of 96 passengers and an excellent vantage for viewing the riverside scenery.
Most of the Express boats have only a single engine, while the new tourist boats are twin-engined. A pair of classic Cummins NTA855 diesels is fitted into the hull under the port and starboard platforms that support the stairs to the upper decks. The engines, each rated for 260kW at 1,800rpm, turn propellers through ZF gears with 2:1 reduction to give the boat a top speed of 12 knots.
The hulls, built further up the river from Bangkok by BP Center 1995 Co. and STP Consultant and Acency Co., are, like the Express boats, planked in Takien with frames sawn from Teng hardwood. Takien is a popular wood for hull planking with similar strength and rot resistance to teak but it is usually painted as it doesn’t take a bright finish so well as teak.
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