River City Complex, Bangkok
River City Complex is the home for Thai Handicrafts and antiques and is the starting and endinfg area for a chao phraya river cruise to ayuthaya or a dinner cruise. this shopping adventure is located on the Chao Phraya River next to the Royal Orchid Sheraton. It features 192 shops and presents an ideal place to look for hand-woven Thai silk and cotton, gems and jewelry, decorative objects, leather goods, antiques, handicrafts and other souvenirs.
A free shuttle service runs to and from nearby major hotels located on the river.
What to buy: This large complex offers four floors of top quality and top priced Thai products. Exquisite 18 carat gold Benjarong, hand woven silks, Buddha images, porcelain, art galleries and two whole floors crammed with antiques and reproductions. Not all shops stock Thai antiques but you will find the largest selection of Asian antiques in Bangkok here but be ready to haggle.
What to pay: A lot since Antiques command a premium price! (but you can haggle)
This little shop is on the ground floor of the River City Center and has a wonderful array of paintings, rubbings etc which are not seen in any of the market places or big shopping centers such as MBK. The husband and wife team that operate this shop were extremely helpful. Probably because we had poked our heads in the shop the day before, had a quick glimpse (we were on a boat tour) and said we would be back. Their faces the next day when we arrived back for some serious shopping had to be seen. They couldn't do enough for us. Be prepared to bargain or in our case we just stood and looked worried and the price kept dropping. It was quite entertaining to see just how far they would go in reducing the price. We bought five art works and were very pleased with our purchase.
What to buy: Oil paintings with a typically Thai theme. Rubbings of Thai dancers and musicians on cotton.
On Si Phraya road, near the Royal Orchid Sheraton hotel, is the 4 storey River City Shopping complex.
There are many exclusive art and antique shops, plus top end fashion shops with prices to match.
River City also has several good restaurants with reasonable prices and great views of the Chao Phraya River.
Its a beautiful shopping centre, spend a few hours here then go on a Sunset Dinner Cruise. These cruises leave from this area.
Also to the right of River City is a street market, selling fake and cheap clothes, cheap handicrafts etc.
Gary and I have been to River City on a previous trip so we thought we would take Angie & Brett there, spend a couple of hours looking around the River City Complex before the cruise as they have a lot of antique shops etc there, then we could have a cocktail or two and go on the boat. Things did not go according to plan and we have called this section of our trip to River City
"Touring Bangkok at 140kph with a psycho Taxi Driver".
So about 3.30pm we went to the lobby and told the doorman where we wanted to go and NO we don’t want a hotel taxi we want a metered taxi. He told the taxi driver (or so we thought) in Thai to take us to River City Complex and off we go, Gary (as always) in the front seat with his knees up around his ears and Brett, Angie and I in the back.
There was hardly any conversation with the driver as he couldn’t speak English, fair enough doesn’t matter as the doorman told him where to take us.
Now this taxi driver liked to speed and run red lights and soon Gary is saying that this doesn’t seem to be the right way, then he said he hopes we are nearly there as he desperately needed to go to the toilet.
Soon we are out on the freeway, Angie can see the Speedo and we are doing 140 kilometres an hour. This is not funny, we try to tell the driver to slow down and he is laughing and looks around at us and says “can do 170 yes”.
We are yelling NO- SLOW DOWN, as he weaved in and out of cars and buses. After about half an hour we know we are definitely going the wrong way. Gary has gone silent and is in agony; no doubt trying to psyche himself up that he does not need the toilet.
Well, after a drive thru Bangkok with a Thai stunt driver we eventually ended up at a gigantic new development (I think it was called Impact). We didn’t care where we were we were just so happy to get out of the taxi and no doubt the driver was happy as he made a nice fare.
Gary’s went running into the main building where there is a huge Gem exhibition going on and asks where the toilets are. He is told there are not any available to the public unless you pay and go into the exhibition.
So we go and line up at the taxi rank where you are given numbers for your taxi, we are number 68, we only had to wait about 20 minutes as there were just hundreds of taxis. Yippee, our driver knows where we want to go so we are on our way, back into Bangkok.
The three of us in the back are having a laugh about what happened but Gary has gone deathly silent again, even his colour changed he seemed to go a funny shade of purple, what agony he must have been in ha-ha.
We pull up at the River City Complex and he is out of the taxi in a flash and gone. When we see him again his colour has gone back to normal and he has a big smile on his face.
So after all this touring around we never had time to show Angie & Brett any of the shops in the River City complex, we just went and bought our tickets for the dinner cruise, then sat down and had a couple of much needed drinks and laughed, what else can you do!
By now Angie and Brett must be thinking we are hopeless as tour guides because everywhere we took them something went wrong, though we did say if it was not for these mishaps they wouldn’t have seen half of Bangkok nor had half as much fun as they did.
On Si Phraya road, near the Royal Orchid Sheraton hotel, is the 4 storey River City Shopping complex. This is home to a large number of prestigious art and antiques shops and prices are, not surprisingly, very high. It has several good restaurants which are reasonably priced though, and give impressive views over the Chao Phraya river. Oriental Plaza, part of the Oriental Hotel, is another very upmarket shopping arcade and the shops here mostly sell art, antiques, handicrafts and clothes. Also around here is a street market, selling fake and cheap clothes, cheap handicrafts, etc. It's pretty similar to the stalls on Sukhumvit road.
There are many bronzeware shops along Charoen Krung road (New Road) and the western end of Silom road. Quality is generally high, as are the prices - many shops here also have stalls at Chatuchak weekend market, and it is much cheaper to buy there.
...whack this in soon, Schumacker is catching up Raikonen...
Should you be into tribal Arts, and the stuff that inspires Henry Moore's sculptures, and some of Picasso's cubist bits, then you could get over to River City and check out at least four stores that specialise in popular culture / tribal arts.
A good deal of Indonesian and Polynesian art originals, not the copies made out of a plank of pine wood and then boot polished. Often pieces are tastefuly mounted up as well. It is not the tourist tack you will see on the beach and street stalls / Chatuchak Market. Masks and ceramics can be bagged for under $100 - though of course the sky is the limit. All the fertility stuff is in here ...should that be your wont. If you have ever read or browsed "Asian Arts Magazine" you may recognise some of the stores in River City as those advertising in half page expensive spreads.
What to buy: Ethnic and tribal arts from the East Asia and South Pacific Region.
Some occasional pieces from Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan.
What to pay: Sky's the limit. (I may have mentioned that before. Twice won't hurt.)
...to add in soon.
Promise. We're on lap 66 out of 70
Two dimensional art exhibitions regularly show at The River City Antiques Complex in the main display hall. Usually they are sales of the works of pretty high quality local artists.
They will "de-frame" the works and pack it small if you are pushed for space, or box / crate up the works for you. They do a good job in the protection stakes. And they also arrange shipping... there is a shipping office they use as a central shared resource for all of the traders in the complex. Even if you are not buying, the exhibitions give you a good feel as to how smart the Thai art fraternity is.
...will add in the text shortly - watching the canadian grand prix and can't concentrate.
Right here you are.
Inside River City you get four floors of "stores" (aye), and they are in the main well laid out and beautifully presented. Many are extremely pricey, so if not buying you can at least gawp at what wealthy antique dealers the world over are stocking up on. Pretend you're Indiana Jones maybe. But don't crack your whip indoors, eh, as it may be seen as rude and could take someone's eye out. The quality of the stuff in here is pretty good. Of course you get the odd shop selling fakes - I mean, who is daft enough to immediately pronounce at the top of their voice that their stuff is from Angkor Wat, and expect to get away with it. If it was from Angkor they'd be dealing with you in a backroom, or when they know you. As some do.Tut tut.
Most of Asia is represented in R City. from Japan down to Indonesia, from Tibet over to Pulau. Furniture, sculpture, antique map shops, it's got the lot. You can deck your house to look like that "Asian Style" coffee table book in about twenty minutes of credit card waving... if your bank manager likes you.
And a marvellous smell of furniture wax. You can easily spend an afternoon here and not get bored.
What to buy: There are enough smaller things for the special "we were here the once, so what the heck" gift / trip memento.
Big pieces they pack and ship.
What to pay: 20 - 30% cheaper than Hong Kong and Singapore.
30% + cheaper than Malaysia - and far better stock quality.
This mall is full of art and antique shops. There are plenty of art boutiques/stalls on the ground floor.
We purchased a buddha statue carved out of teak wood and incredible leather carvings.
This mall has more upscale art shops so prices here may be more expensive than those at the markets, but you are more likely to find authentic antiques here than at the outdoor markets.
What to buy: Buddha decor