Anantara Riverside Resort

The middle of April marks the arrival of the year’s hottest days in Thailand. It also marks the start of the Thai new year, a festival known as Songkhran. A few million of Bangkok’s residents escape the city, leaving either for a holiday out of town or returning to their home province to spend time with family. Many of us Bangkok residents stay in town to enjoy our city at half its normal capacity. I took the opportunity for a one-night “staycation” on the Thonburi side of the river at the Anantara Riverside Resort.


The Anantara, owned and operated by Minor International, a Thai based multinational, is not the newest riverfront property, but it is well-maintained and just far enough downstream from the heart of the city, to truly feel like an escape from the hustle and bustle. At the heart of the complex is a large pool, which was quite busy with sunbathers and water-splashers of all ages.


The hotel’s lush gardens are very tranquil. One of the nice aspects of it being an older resort is that the landscaping has a volume that cannot be easily achieved by newer properties. Everywhere you look, both inside and outside the buildings, you see greenery.


As the resort’s name implies, it is located directly on the river. There is a restaurant and a bar that lie adjacent to the water and the hotel’s private pier offers ferry service to the pier upriver that is near the BTS Skytrain station. The ferry also runs across the river to Asiatique, the two-year old outdoor night market and entertainment center.


The rooms are nicely furnished in a contemporary but slightly tropical style. We upgraded to a riverfront room that was very comfortable. There isn’t that much to see on the river besides barges slowly making their way up- and downstream, but it is a nice setting.


Public places in the hotel are tasteful and contemporary, with lots of natural light. There are several “mini lobbies” where you can find a nice place to sit with a book or just absorb the atmosphere.


We ate a sumptuous Sunday brunch at Trader Vic’s, the “tiki tiki” themed restaurant that features just about every type of food imaginable, including a wide variety of fresh seafood.


We also had a nice breakfast the following morning at the Marketplace restaurant, which spills outdoors onto a patio overlooking the river. All the food was good and the staff was very friendly.


Most of our day was spent by the pool, although we hid beneath umbrellas and in the shade of a large tree. As evening came, a cultural program was presented poolside with young ladies in traditional Thai costumes dancing and lighting the torches around the pool.


A man dressed as Hanuman, the mythical white monkey in the Ramakien, the Thai version of the classic Hindu epic called the Ramayana, performed around the pool to the beat of a drummer. He attracted many young followers who tried to catch his tail and also copied his poses.


In the evening, there is another classical performance held by torch light for the diners as the Marketplace restaurant. While I suppose you could quibble over whether guests really learn much from this minimal amount of exposure to culture, it surely creates a memorable impression for them.


The resort also offers cruises aboard converted teak rice barges. These cruises, one of which I did several years ago, can be just a daytime excursion, a dinner cruise, or a two-night trip to the ancient capital of Ayutthaya and back.


All in all, the Anantara Riverside Resort proved to be an ideal place for us to get away from the city for a night. If we had children, it would be even more well-suited for us as there are many activities geared to families.



Visits by Xangans have been frequent this winter. Last month, David (fongster8) was in town for a few days and Tawn and I had a chance to enjoy a few meals together with him. One evening, we took the boat down river to Asiatique, a shopping and entertainment center built on the site of the former East Asiatic Company’s old godowns.

The complex opened less than a year ago and is, to some extent, a rebirth of the Lumpini Night Bazaar, which was torn down to make way for another mall. The waterfront complex looks like a series of warehouses and offers a nice promenade along the river from which to catch a breeze and watch the sun set.

The free shuttle boats run from the Taksin pier (near the BTS Saphan Taksin station) every fifteen minutes, making a convenient and enjoyable way to arrive at the shopping complex. I had to laugh at this sign (and ignore the “no photography” sign) that lost the word “beware” or “watch out” when translated to English.

The most recent addition to Asiatique is a giant ferris wheel, not so large as the London Eye or Singapore Flyer, but a landmark in its own right. I mockingly called it the Bangkok Eye and a friend commented that the name sounded like something you might catch in the sketchy Patpong nightlife district. The brightly lit wheel is located adjacent to a large temple complex and I can only imagine that the monks next door are forced to endure both noise and visual pollution.

The shopping isn’t much, mostly nick-knacks of the tourist variety but there is enough to entertain you for an hour or so of browsing. The restaurant selection is wide, from an inexpensive food court to expensive restaurants of all stripes. There are nice public spaces, too, and the architecture is pleasing, albeit in a Disneyesque way.

As for David, his visit coincided with his birthday. He said he didn’t want to make a fuss over it, but I find that people who don’t want to make a fuss over their birthday usually don’t bother mentioning that it is their birthday. Tawn and I took David out for a nice Italian meal, complete with a birthday tiramisu and candle. Thanks for visiting again and happy birthday!