A Romantic Night out on the Mae Ping Dinner Cruise

Boat cruising on the Mae Ping River

Are you looking for a romantic evening out while visiting Chiang Mai? Board the Mae Ping Dinner Cruise for a relaxing 90-minute cruise along the river banks of Chiang Mai and enjoy its beautiful scenery illuminated at night that only a few people get to see. The cool breeze gliding through your hair as you start your journey on the Mae Ping River is the perfect ending to a hot and humid day in Chiang Mai.Sunset reflecting on the Mae Ping River

Mae Ping Dinner Cruise

I found a brochure on Mae Ping River Cruises at the beginning of my travels in Thailand and was immediately captivated by the concept. Almost three months later, I was finally able to go on one of their river cruises right before I was to leave Thailand. I don’t know why I waited so long, but I was thrilled to have experienced this river cruise. When you schedule the cruise, there is a free shuttle pick-up at your hotel that drops you off at their restaurant jetty. The boat ride starts every evening at 6:30 p.m.

Mae Ping Dinner Cruise boat

The Mae Ping Dinner Cruise is set up on a 48-seat boat with tables nicely set for the families or couples that registered for the evening. The tables aren’t reserved so; you can choose which one you want to sit. We chose a table right at the front of the boat for the best viewpoints and photo taking abilities. Mae Ping Dinner Cruise Table setting

Dinner

There isn’t much time after you board and before they start serving dinner, which is almost immediately upon departure from the dock. It makes a lot of sense to serve the meal so quickly as it gets dark very quickly on the river. And it is nice to be able to see what you are eating. The dinner served is a delicious Northern Thai meal that includes Hot and Sour soup with Shrimp, Sweet and Sour Chicken, White Rice, Mixed Vegetables, and Spring Rolls. Water is included in the price but, you do have to pay extra for any other drinks you might like. Mae Ping River Cruise DinnerOnce the sun starts going down, the crew brings out and lights candles to enhance your river cruise. As we cruised along the river, the candle was our only light source except for the Thai residences, riverside bars, and restaurants all lit up and reflecting in the water. After dinner, you can sit back and relax and just enjoy the illuminated riverbanks.Mae Ping Dinner Cruise Candle Light

Illuminated Riverbanks of the Mae Ping River

This is the part of the cruise that is just magical and really romantic. Seeing the glittering lights reflecting in the water makes the cruise so special. You feel like you are in an entirely different world, slowly gliding down the river with only the sounds of frogs, birds, and the occasional music from the riverbanks to entertain you. Before it turns completely dark, you might even see some locals fishing along the banks.Cruising down the Mae Ping RiverBuilding illuminated on the banks of Mae Ping RiverBridge reflected on the Mae Ping River

Dessert

When you arrive at the point of the boat turning around, the crew will serve you dessert. The plate of fresh pineapple and watermelon were the perfect accompaniment to the dinner. Although I don’t think they gave us enough pineapple. Skye and I were both vying to eat the last pineapple.Mae Ping Dinner Cruise Dessert

Taking Photos on the River Cruise at Night

This is where I screwed up as I did not bring my good camera on the cruise. I tried to take some with my phone, and as you can see below that, I wasn’t that successful. Although I do like the lights reflecting in the water. As the boat is slowly moving, your camera needs to be able to focus on the subjects on the riverbank. To help this, use a higher ISO (start at 3200 and adjust if needed), set the aperture (f/1.8) as wide as possible and use a fast shutter speed to counteract the boat motion. It will also help if you have a tripod to reduce the shaking of the boat. As other photographers would say “hope for full moons and flat waters.”Riverbanks illuminated on the Mae Ping RiverTree illuminated on the Mae Ping River

Summary

The Mae Ping Dinner Cruise is surprisingly pleasant with a great meal and an amazing river journey along the riverbanks of the Mae Ping River in Chiang Mai, Thailand. The cost of the dinner cruise is 650 THB per person ($20 USD), which is really affordable for river dinner cruises. The Mae Ping Dinner Cruise is a fantastic option for a romantic night out and makes your visit to Chiang Mai a little more special and definitely unique.

Skye and Heather on the Mae Ping Dinner Cruise

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Further Reading

If you would like to see more of my nomad travels, check out my post on my first month of traveling full-time: One Month of Nomad Travel. If you are coming to Thailand for a visit, check out these posts:

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