Asiatique the Riverfront is a trendy Bangkok shopping and dining precinct which opened in April of 2012 and is laid out over 12 acres of refurbished waterfront land along the Chao Phraya River.
I first visited this Bangkok market during January of 2014 and it had a festival feel to it, due to the beautiful Christmas lights that were on display along with a brightly lit Ferris wheel, which is said to be the largest in Thailand.
This recently refurbished site is no Bangkok flee market and has clearly been built to cater to Thailand's rising middle class and cashed up foreign tourists.
The site currently includes over 40 restaurants and 1,500 boutique shops, but don't expect to find any bargains here. People looking for fake brand sunglasses and cheap T-shirts would find the Chatuchak Market more appealing.
Asiatique is actually built on an historical warehouse site which was established in 1884 by a Danish ship captain known as Hans Neils Anderson, and he founded the Anderson Company. Indeed, this site which is situated along Bangkok's Chao Phraya River (which was the major trade route in times past) was a foreign trading post during the reign of Rama V (1868-1910).
The company which Anderson first established was the forerunner to the establishment of the East Asiatic Company (EAC) which constructed an international port, along with a number of warehouses and a sawmill on the same site (see image below).
These same warehouses are said to have been refurbished with the authentic architecture of 1907 and 1947 in mind.
The warehouses retained for Asiatique now house the small boutique shops which are the feature of this riverside precinct. This waterfront refurbishment is a real success story when you see the volume of people that are attracted to the site; which is now home to a new retail community.
The owners of Asiatique say that cultural heritage and a global lifestyle played a large role in the concept and design of this project which was modeled after Bangkok's four major trade districts .
Some of these heritage values can easily be spotted as you walk around this site, and these provide visitors with an insight into the former commercial use of the area. One such example is a small
section of old railway track which has been cleverly preserved within a concrete walkway.
Speaking of the past, during World War 2 the Empire of Japan seized the site and utilized it
as a supply center for its war efforts throughout the southeast Asia
though, this large scale riverfront market combines the old world
charm of the EAC warehouses with a modern boutique style shopping
Within these boutique shops you can find just about anything including fashion, handicrafts including hand woven bags (at Orasa see image below), hats, t-shirts, souvenirs (we purchased some cute lipstick holders for family friends), home wares, and shoes.
There is also a cute little shop which produces its own candy on site; all of which can be seen through a viewing window. There is also a large Ferris wheel for the young or young at heart who wish to get a birds eye view of Asiatique the Riverfront and the surrounding Bangkok landscape.
Apart from the retail stores there are over 40 restaurants (including international cuisine) at Asiatique which serve Italian, Chinese, Thai, Japanese and of course seafood. There is also a large sports bar for those wishing to have a drink and relax instead of walking around and shopping. While restaurant prices may be higher than other places such as Bangkok's Chinatown, this site does has a clean upmarket feel to it so in m view it's worth paying a little more.
if you don't wish to sit down in a restaurant there are a number of
vendors that sell food under a large pagoda/tent which is situated close to the Ferris wheel.
Here you can buy grilled pork, sticky rice along with a number of curry
and rice dishes all at normal street food prices.
far from the seafood restaurants where the market looks out over the
Chao Phrayer River there is also a 300 metre timber boardwalk which has
an old ships
anchor sitting on the ground. This was used as a popular prop for
taking photographs with while we were there as was the tram car which was located closer to the street entrance.
As you walk through the front street entrance of Asiatique the Riverfront, you will also see the large cultural center which has two theaters; one is used for the Calypso Cabaret show girls and the second is for the famous Joe Louis Puppet show.
Apart from this there is also the Sa-ma-dul massage and spa shop (see image
below). Here you can have a traditional back or foot massage, or you can opt for something different. Out the front of the massage parlor is a large fish tank which you can sit beside and place your legs and feet in the water and allow the fish to nibble and suck on them.
Asiatique the Riverfront is located at 2194 Charoenkrung Road, Wat Prayakrai, Bangkoleam, Bangkok Thailand 10120. It is open 7 days a week and starts at 4 PM and closes around 12 AM.
The market is located about 3 kilometres away from the Saphan Taksin BTS Skytrain Station and there is a free shuttle Ferry located at the Sheraton Pier close by. Alternatively, you can catch a taxi from whichever hotel you are staying at.