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Laem Chabang Cruise Port [Bangkok]: A Visitors Guide

Spectrum of the Seas docked in Laem Chabang cruise port

Laem Chabang cruise port, located in Chonburi Province, lies about 120 kilometers southeast of Bangkok, the capital of Thailand. Located in the Gulf of Thailand near the mouth of the Chao Phraya River, the port accommodates one cruise ship at Terminal A. Multiple arrivals require a lengthy tendering process.

A taxi from the nearest airport, Suvarnabhumi Airport to this port costs 2625 Baht (USD 75) for those embarking here.

Day visitors to this large industrial port have lots of options. This guide teaches about transportation, shore excursion choices, and how to travel to Pattaya, a shorter journey than Bangkok.

As Bangkok’s gateway, the port of Laem Chabang is Thailand’s most prominent and busiest port for cargo and cruise ships. Its capacity and facilities make it a popular stop for international cruise lines.

Where Is The Laem Chabang Cruise Terminal?

You’ll find the cruise terminal outside the small town of Laem Chabang, which has a population of 80,000. There is nothing within walking distance, so pre-arranged shore excursions are advisable.

The port building has some vendors selling goods and a Thai massage booth. However, I found their pricing double what I paid in Bangkok and Pattaya. Also, the port does not offer complimentary Wi-fi.

Thai Baht is Thailand’s official currency, but some vendors accept the USD dollar. You can visit Bangkok, a central hub for cultural experiences, or Pattaya, a smaller destination, from the port of Laem Chabang.

If your cruise ship docks in Laem Chabang for two days, as we did on the Spectrum of the Seas cruise, you could enjoy an overnight stay in Bangkok on the first evening. 

Royal Caribbean sold a “Bangkok on your own,” which included transportation on the first day and pickup on the second. However, guests needed to make their own hotel arrangements.

Transportation Options

The Laem Chabang Cruise Port is well-connected to the rest of Thailand by road, rail, and air. Regular bus services to and from Bangkok take approximately two hours.

Arriving at the Laem Chabang cruise terminal
Arriving at the Laem Chabang cruise terminal

Due to traffic, it took 2-1/2 hours to travel from Laem Chabang cruise port to Bangkok and 2 hours 10 minutes on the return trip. Don’t worry if you’re on an organized tour as the bus stopped half way for a bathroom break.

The port is located near the major highways of Thailand, including the Bangkok-Chonburi Motorway and the Chonburi-Pattaya Motorway.

Without a port excursion, traveling from Laem Chabang cruise port by taxi is as follows:

  • Taxis to Bangkok are 3,325 Baht (USD 95) one-way for a car (up to 4 passengers) and 5,250 Baht (USD 150) return. A larger vehicle or van (to accommodate up to 8) charges 4,200 Baht (USD 120) one way and 6,300 Baht (USD 180) roundtrip. There are three tolls to Bangkok which are included in the price.
  • Since Pattaya is much closer, expect to pay 1,400 Baht (USD 40) for a small car and 2,100 Baht (USD 60) for a van for a one-way trip. Roundtrip journeys cost 2,100 (USD 60) to 2,800 Baht (USD 80), depending on the vehicle type.

If you want to retain your taxi for sightseeing, expect to pay 7,350 baht or USD 210 for ten hours. Each additional hour costs USD 10.

Toll booths on the way to Bangkok
Toll booths on the way to Bangkok

Expect to pay 3,850 baht or USD 110 if Pattaya is your destination, and you want to do some sightseeing.

Ride share vehicle cannot enter the cruise port area. So, if you want a Grab, you’ll have to make a significant hike to exit the port.

Since congested traffic can make travel much slower, don’t rely on a metered taxi to get you back to the ship on time.

Here are some highlights to enjoy on your Bangkok cruise port day.

Grand Palace, Bangkok

Bangkok, also known as the City of Angels, is undoubtedly one of the best vacation spots in Thailand. 

Its Grand Palace, built in 1782, has been the royal residence for generations, symbolizing Thailand’s history and culture. You can opt for a ship tour here, which may be part of a more extensive itinerary, or arrange a private tour.

Grand Palace, Bangkok
Grand Palace, Bangkok

The palace complex spans over 214,000 sq. meters, blending the architecture of traditional Thai with European designs. Being Bangkok’s most popular tourist attraction, expect crowds amongst the Grand Palace grounds, no matter when you visit. 

A key attraction, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha (Wat Phra Kaew), houses the Emerald Buddha carved from a giant block of jade. 

Near the entrance, the palace’s Outer Court once housed government departments. The Middle Court was the king’s residence and throne halls. The Inner Court was exclusively for the royal family. Although some areas are off-limits, the open sections offer a glimpse into royal life.

Exploring the Grand Palace requires at least 2-3 hours. Guided tours are recommended for a deeper understanding of its history and significance. Visitors should dress modestly, covering shoulders and knees, to adhere to the strict dress code.

Wat Arun

Wat Arun
Wat Arun

There are many ancient temples in Bangkok, but none are as striking as Wat Arun. Also known as the Temple of Dawn, the 17th-century landmark sits on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River, making it a prominent sight. 

Its central prang (tower), adorned with colorful porcelain and ceramic tiles that dazzle in the sunlight, is a crucial feature. You can climb the prang’s steep stairs for panoramic river and city views. 

Surrounding the central tower are four smaller prangs, each representing the terrestrial representation of the thirty-three heavens in Buddhist cosmology. The temple is decorated with mythical guardians, adding to its mystical aura. 

When visiting, you’ll also see intricate murals and sculptures. Wat Arun is one of Bangkok’s best temples, a religious site, and a symbol of Thailand’s rich cultural heritage. 

Those with limited mobility should not climb the stairs. The steps have a high instep with no handrails to the first level, making it hazardous. While there are handrails to the upper levels, these areas are off-limits to visitors.

Ayutthaya Historical Park

Ayutthaya Historical Park
Ayutthaya Historical Park

A day trip to a UNESCO World Heritage Site is a must in Thailand. The Ayutthaya Historical Park marks the remains of the ancient city of Ayutthaya, founded in 1350.

Once a prosperous and cosmopolitan urban center, Ayutthaya was the second Siamese capital after Sukhothai. 

It prospered from the 14th to the 18th centuries. The city was known for its impressive architecture and numerous canals, earning it the nickname “Venice of the East.” In 1767, the Burmese army destroyed Ayutthaya, leading to its abandonment.

Today, you can explore the ruins of palaces, Buddhist temples, monasteries, and statues. The most iconic sights include Wat Phra Si Sanphet, the royal temple, and Wat Mahathat, known for a Buddha head entwined in tree roots. 

Buddha, Ayutthaya Historical Park
Buddha, Ayutthaya Historical Park

Numerous temples and structures outside the park, such as Wat Chaiwatthanaram, are just as impressive. Look beyond the red bricks, and you can imagine how impressive this forgotten city was in its prime.

Floating Market

With a network of canals in Bangkok, it’s no wonder locals peddle their items in floating markets. If it’s your first time in Asia, floating markets might be a culture shock or somewhat intriguing. Some operate on weekends, others every day.

Think of conveyor belt sushi on a larger scale, where boats float by with their goods. It’s a compelling event for the senses. You can purchase colorful fruit, drinks, clothing, and meals.

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market is Bangkok’s oldest, but it’s the busiest. If you want to immerse yourself in the craziness, take a boat trip along the canal to be part of the electric atmosphere. On land, you can travel short distances by tuk-tuk.

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

If crowds aren’t your thing, but you want to experience a floating market, try Tha Kha instead. It attracts fewer people and offers a calmer ambiance.

In central Bangkok, other options include Khlong Lad Mayom, Taling Chan, and Bang Nam Phueng.

If you’re heading to Pattaya, it has a manmade floating market. We found the best bargains on souvenirs here. The food was inexpensive too. Our mango sticky rice cost 50 baht or under USD 1.50.

National Museum Of Royal Barges

I recommend visiting the Royal Barges Museum if you enjoyed the Royal Palace’s grandeur. This museum showcases ten massive, ornamented barges owned by the royal family and used during Thai festivals and processions.

Asura-Vayuphak Royal Barge
Asura-Vayuphak Royal Barge

The intricately designed barges are richly adorned with gold leaf, each as eye-catching as the last. Their bows boast diverse figureheads, including a swan’s head and a seven-headed naga.

The easily accessible displays offer excellent English interpretations. Arriving by the river gives the easiest access to the museum, and expect to spend about an hour for viewing. 

The Royal Thai Navy maintains these intricately decorated boats, and staff may be updating the paintwork. These “golden” boats are used in the Royal Barge Procession, one of the world’s most magnificent events during the Tod Kathin Buddhist Festival. 

While there’s an entrance fee, I had to pay an additional 100 baht to take photographs, and wear the tags around our necks.

Standing by the Narai Song Subun H. M. King Rama IX Royal Barge
Narai Song Subun H. M. King Rama IX Royal Barge

During my visit, staff were busy removing the detail on the side of the boats to update them. The King was celebrating his 72nd birthday that year and the boats would be used for a grand celebration.

Wat Pho

Wat Pho, also known as the “Temple of the Reclining Buddha,” is one of Bangkok’s oldest temples. More than a temple, visitors can tour the northern section, while the southern part acts as a school and monks’ residence.

The highlight of this temple is its reclining Buddha, built from brick, encased in plaster and covered with gold. It measures a massive 46 meters in length. When viewing the statue, be sure to check out its feet. Measuring 5 meters long, they look strikingly different, with mother-of-pearl adornments.

Wat Pho
Wat Pho

During a visit, you can explore many halls filled with over a thousand Buddha images, admire its golden statues, and wander its beautifully decorated grounds. I recommend hiring a tour guide for around 300 Baht to learn more about its history.

At the end of your day, complete your trip by enjoying a Thai massage at its traditional Thai massage school. 

Sanctuary Of Truth 

Contrasting the historic temples in Bangkok, the Sanctuary of Truth is a relatively new structure built in 1981. The museum, the brainchild of wealthy businessman Lek Viriyaphant, combines religion, philosophy, and art.

The sanctuary stands at 105 meters and showcases Hindu and Buddhist motifs from the Ayutthaya era. Amazingly, it’s made entirely of teak, ironwood, and sandalwood, without any metal nails. 

Viriyaphant died in 2000 before the completion of his masterpiece. While work is ongoing, the scheduled date for completion is 2050. Since the museum is under construction, we had to wear hard hats during our visit.

Visiting the Sanctuary of Truth
Visiting the Sanctuary of Truth

Without a port excursion, cruise travelers can get a taxi or use the ship’s shuttle service (USD 69pp) to reach Pattaya.

Wat Traimit 

If you haven’t had your fill of temples, Wat Traimit houses the world’s largest solid gold Buddha statue. This statue, known as Phra Phuttha Maha Suwana Patimakon, weighs about 5.5 tons and stands at nearly 5 meters in height. 

Historically, the statue was covered in plaster to conceal its value from invaders. The true nature of the Buddha was accidentally discovered in the 1950s when transporting it caused damage to its plaster.

The temple, a significant site for locals and tourists, reflects Thailand’s rich cultural and religious heritage. You can explore the temple’s elegant architecture and learn about the statue’s history in an onsite museum. 

The surrounding area is bustling with markets and street vendors, offering a glimpse into daily Bangkok life. If daring and willing to eat from street food stalls, you can eat unknowns, including deep-fried scorpions!

Tiffany’s Cabaret Show

Tiffany’s Cabaret Show in Pattaya, Thailand, started in 1974 and is famous for its fascinating ladyboy shows. It began as a small performance for friends and has grown into a world-class spectacle, attracting thousands of annual visitors. 

Tiffany’s Show blends performance art with state-of-the-art light and sound technology. The show offers a range of performances, from traditional Thai dances to modern western numbers, all done in spectacular costumes. 

The cabaret show is not just entertainment; it’s a celebration of Thai culture and diversity. It has won international recognition, including the “Best Transvestite Cabaret Show in Thailand” by TravelCom Magazine.

Jim Thompson House

Inside Jim Thompson House
Inside Jim Thompson House

The Jim Thompson House is a Bangkok museum dedicated to an American of the same name who rejuvenated Thai silk. Thompson, an architect and merchant, vanished mysteriously in Malaysia in 1967. His home, now a museum since 1976, displays his Asian art and Thai silk collection. 

It consists of six traditional Thai houses relocated from different Thai regions. Highlights include Buddhist statues, Thai paintings, and porcelain pieces from Southeast Asia. 

The museum, surrounded by gardens, offers tours about Thompson’s life and contributions. There’s a silk souvenir shop and café, making it a must-visit for those interested in Thai culture and architecture.

Wrap It Up

As you can see, the large commercial port at Laem Chabang offers many choices for your day if you venture beyond the industrial area. While it’s a lengthy journey to Bangkok, its culturally rich attractions are worth the trip.

If you aren’t up for the 2+ hour ride to the capital, Pattaya makes a great place to explore for a shortened adventure. Take one trip to Bangkok, and you’ll be ready to book another Asia cruise.

A Royal Caribbean ship docked in Laem Chabang cruise port in Thailand