What does Chao Phraya mean?
The official name of the river is Mae Nam Chao Phraya. “Mea Nam” combines the words for mother (Mea) and the word water (Nam) to make the word river. Chao Phraya Is Loosely translated as Grand Duke. King Rama I, nicknamed Chao Phraya The River of Kings.
The Thai people have always had great respect for this River as it has helped to sustain our country by providing so much.
Why is the river so important?
When Bangkok began about six hundred years ago it was a small fishing village under the kingdom of Ayutthaya. Just as it does now the river provided food in the form of fish, water, and an easy means of transport. It also provided a convenient way to irrigate the rice fields. The abundance of resources made the area an attractive place to live. The settlement quickly grew and eventually became the capital of Siam.
Houses on the Chao Phraya River
Houses have been built in the river for hundreds of years off and being passed down from one generation to the next. Many of the houses that you may see along your journey of the river are well over a hundred years old.
Typically belonging to poor communities, most of these houses originally were built on the river without permission. Typically a blind eye has been turned and the communities of river houses have thrived living on the Chao Phraya.
If you see a house quite above the river on stilts this wasn’t a builder’s mistake. It is because the river will rise and fall depending on the seasons.