Weekend in Bangkok
LINDSAY YAP checks in to a 26-storey contemporary hotel right beside the Chao Phraya.
On past trips to the bustling Thai capital, I’ve stayed in the popular shopping district of Sukhumvit. This time, on a trip sponsored by the Tourism Authority of Thailand in Singapore, I had the opportunity to venture beyond my usual haunt and explore a different view of the city.
AVANI Riverside Bangkok opened in late 2016 on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya, just behind its older sister property, the Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort. All rooms in the hotel offer unblocked views of the river, where you can watch boats plying back and forth all day. My comfortable and modern River View Room had loads of space and natural light, and each room comes with complimentary use of a smartphone that comes in handy when navigating the city.
For dinner or tipples with a view, head to Attitude, AVANI’S stylish rooftop bar and restaurant on the 26th floor. Or, if you’re looking for more options, take a stroll across to the Anantara to enjoy teppanyaki and sushi at Benihana, hearty Italian fare at Brio, Asian cuisine at Trader Vic’s or the international buffet spread at the Riverside Terrace.
I particularly enjoyed the breakfast spread, served at all-day dining spot Skyline on the lobby level. The casual dining space has floorto-ceiling windows looking out to the river and the city beyond. There was a good variety of items on offer, from bread, pastries and cereal to dim sum, porridge and made- to- order omelettes, plus a station serving up delicious bowls of piping hot noodle soup.
First things first: You’ll want to take a dip in the lovely rooftop infinity pool, also overlooking the river. Snag a comfy lounge chair and enjoy a refreshing drink from the bar. Those who want to keep up with their daily workouts can drop by the gym – it’s well-equipped with a variety of exercise machines and weights. AVANI Riverside guests are also able to book a Muay Thai class at Anantara, and I had the chance to enjoy an hour-long session. It was a really good workout, and being in a small boxing ring made the experience all the more authentic and fun.
If you’re not the sporty type, don’t fret – you can always head to the spa! Take your pick of massages, body scrubs, facials and nail treatments, which are divided into four categories: Purify, Calm, Boost and Balance. After filling out a quick pre-treatment questionnaire about my preferences and current lifestyle, I was assigned to the Calm category that focuses on reducing muscle tension and soothing nerves. I enjoyed the Gentle Rhythms massage, a relaxing full-body oil massage that also targets the head and face.
Of course, you’re going to want to head out and explore everything Bangkok offers. To do this, hop on the complimentary Anantara shuttle boat at the pier, which takes you to the nearest train station, Saphan Taksin BTS, around 10 minutes away. This gives you access to the other parts of the city.
The shuttle can also take you by night to Asiatique, a popular riverside market, or you can maximise your riverside experience with a dinner aboard Manohra Cruises. Offered by Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort, this twohour cruise includes a Thai meal (with a kids’ menu so the little ones don’t miss out) while taking in views of famous landmarks along the Chao Phraya such as the Grand Palace and Wat Prayoon. It’s admittedly quite touristy, but I really enjoyed the experience! The lovely breeze and delicious food made for a great end to the day.
As for the city itself, if you’re not sure where to go or what to do, Anantara Riverside Bangkok offers two tours, both led by local guide Diamond. During the Klong Guru Tour, you explore the Chao Phraya river and its canals (“klong” in Thai) on a traditional longtail boat, cruising past riverside homes and stalls, and visiting temples such as Wat Ratcha Orasaram. The Streetwise Guru Tour is another great option; it takes you to local markets including the Yodpiman Flower Market, Pak Khlong Talat and Bangrak Market. The highlight for me on this tour was the street food – I loved the crispy fried chicken and incredibly flavourful sausages; also keep an eye out for Thai crispy pancakes (they look like tacos) – made of crepe and filled with meringue and shredded coconut, they’re absolutely delicious! For lunch – yes, even after all those snacks! – we travelled to Tha Din Daeng Road for fishball noodles and popular dee moo (pork) satay.