10 years ago the river scene had not changed much from the previous 10. The same large cruise operators Grand Pearl, Chaophraya Princess, Chaophraya Cruise, Riverside) were the only players dotted with a few private boat owners. With chinese tourists doubling the number of visitors to Thailand, businesses started to invest to take advantage of additional customers. Cruise operators started to build larger boats, and property developers scooped up riverside property. The first large project to launch was Asiatique owned by the Chang Beer/Whisky conglomerate. It is a coverted warehouse complex consisting of gift shops and restaurant/bars anchored by big tourist attractions such as the large ferris wheel (mini London Eye), Calypso transvestite show, Joe Louis Puppet Theatre, and Thai Boxing shows. Asiatique was followed by Yodpiman, Tha Maharaj, and now Icon Siam, the biggest player of all a JV between Paragon Mall and CP. Icon is only 3 months old, but being on the 'wrong side' of the river i.e. Thonburi success is not a certainty. To encourage traffic the BTS Skytrain is being extended to their mall. Meanwhile Icon is supplied by an extensive net work of shuttle boats. As for river cruises, seated capacity has doubled, though this is driven by the launches of large boats catering to the Chinese market. To the experienced traveller, most often, such a river cruise experience is disappointing with poor quality food, inadequate service and most importantly feeling crowded out by tour groups scrambling to get the best items offered on buffet that has limited supply.
Nevertheless, the timeless experience on the Chaophraya river remain enchanting. These would be the warm climate, the breeze blowing from the mouth of the river, the river traffic, Wat Arun, and the Grand Palace. These attractions remain world class setting up Bangkok to be one of the best dinner cruise locations in the world.