- Timo Kiviluoma
A family holiday in tropical Bangkok
In cooperation with Anantara Riverside Resort
Bangkok, Thailand’s megacity, may not seem like an ideal holiday destination for families at first glance. All the clichés about its wild night life and adult fun are in most part true. However, there’s a place just outside the city at the riverfront, a real hotel gem Anantara Riverside Resort, where you can experience another side of Bangkok. After all, it’s an almost perfect place for relaxed and easy-going city-resort holiday for families and almost everyone else.
Why choose Bangkok riverside?
The city of Bangkok is in the tropics, so there’s nearly always really hot weather. The densely-built city centre can feel more like a furnace, so the hot temperature feels more moderate in a riverside setting. The city has grown steadily and its almost 10 million inhabitants and tourists can make getting around the city centre quite exhausting. So, it is calming to get away from the throng for a while. Riots and bomb attacks have also happened in the city centre within this past decade, while the riverfront has always remained peaceful and outside of any issues.
Why Anantara Riverside Resort is your best choice
There has been a lot of construction along the riverside, with new hotels being built all the time. Anantara Riverside Resort, however, differs from all the other riverside hotels because it’s a real resort. There is a tropical garden and a huge pool area around the hotel buildings. You can easily forget the closeness of the city and just relax and even imagine you are at the beach, the only things missing are sand and sea. However, instead of ocean, you have all the possibilities to enjoy Bangkok’s famous shopping, entertainment and many sights.
Services at a reasonable price close to the resort
There is a small shopping centre, Riverside Plaza, just next to Anantara Riverside Resort. And that’s another great reason why this resort is so recommended for families. You’ll find quite a lot of reasonable priced restaurants inside the mall, including Japanese and Thai restaurants, a pizzeria and burger restaurants, a diner, a pastry shop, an ice-cream shop and a premium café.
We visited Thai Express a couple of times and enjoyed straightforward and quick Thai food. We visited also the burger restaurant and the diner. Along with those restaurants, the Pizza Company was a good choice for lunchtime food: you can even get your pizzas to take out and can eat them at your own hotel room or at the pool side.
Besides the restaurants and cafes, there is also a drugstore, a cash machine and few clothing stores at the shopping centre, but for major shopping, you really should try shopping in the city. Next to the shopping centre, there is 25 storey high Avani hotel, where you can visit their rooftop bar to see for a wonderful view of the scenery, to be enjoyed both daytime as well as night-time.
Easy river transport and on the BTS Sky Train
Most of the hotels, which are located at the riverfront, have their own river boat service to the closest BTS Sky Train station. A river boat is a comfortable and convenient way to move around with kids, you can see the riverfront life and other river traffic at the same time. From Anantara Riverside Resort, the boat trip takes about 15 minutes to BTS Saphan Taksin Sky Train station. This BTS line takes you directly to the city shopping areas, the best stop to exit from the train is Siam station.
In Bangkok, the BTS Sky Train is a highly-recommended way to move around the city. Trains can be congested from time to time, but the trains are air-conditioned and as they are above the road you can avoid the massive traffic jams that plague Bangkok. Tickets can be purchased from the stations, with the price depending on how long your journey is.
Across the river, just opposite Anantara Riverside Resort, lies a quite new evening market area called Asiatique The Riverfront. There are almost 40 restaurants and a whopping 1500 small shops in this area. The easiest way to go there from Anantara Riverside Resort is to take a river boat. First, take a hotel river boat to BTS Sky Train pier and from there take a free non-stop Asiatique river boat. The river boat of Asiatique is congested most of the time and you will probably have to stand in a queue. After 9 PM, the Anantara Riverside Resort river boat stops at the Asiatique pier, so that provides easy and quick access back to the hotel.
Three useful tips
1. Inexpensive Thai massage nearby
At the Anantara Riverside Resort there is a spa, where you can have a high-quality Thai massage, but the price of the massage is really high. So, instead of the hotel spa, walk outside from the Riverside Plaza, turn left and cross the canal bridge. There is a little Thai massage parlour next to a small street kitchen. The lady who owns the parlour speaks English quite well, although the masseurs almost none at all. Prices are very cheap, 1 hour costs about 9 euros, 2 hour about 15 euros. The masseurs are very skilful, but be aware that the first hour of a two-hour massage concentrates on the legs. Maybe first try a one hour Thai massage and if you like it, go back the next day and take the two-hour sweet torment.
2. Minimarket close to the hotel
The pricing of drinks and sweets at the Anantara Riverside Resort is just as high as you would expect in a five-star hotel. However, there is a happy hour at the pool bar on evenings and sometimes coffee and cake -offers at Numero Uno café. But for affordable drinks and sweets you should try the minimarket outside the resort. Go outside from the Riverside Plaza, turn right and cross the street by the overpass.
3. Lots of stairs at the BTS Sky Train station
Although the river boat connection to BTS Saphan Taksin Sky Train station is handy and recommended, be aware that there is neither an escalator nor lift at this station. First, you must climb up one set of stairs to the station level and from there another staircase to track level. Because of that, I wouldn’t recommend this connection if you are travelling with a kid sitting in a stroller. Moreover, walking with a kid in a stroller in the city is not a very good idea: there are sudden stairs and doorsteps at otherwise easily walkable walkways and sidewalks. It might also be a little bit tricky to find room with strollers to fit on the train if the BTS Sky Train is congested.
Because of the staircases, I also don’t recommend you to even think about the Airport train – BTS Sky Train connection for your airport transfer if you have heavy luggage – even though it may look possible when just looking at the map.
I’ve been stayed twice at Anantara Riverside Resort and I can warmly recommend this hotel for families. Although this article is put into practise with Anantara Hotels, my opinions are always my own and can’t be bought.