Those of us in the property business are often asked what the hot locations for condominiums in Bangkok are. The answer has always been areas that are within walking distance of a mass transit station or prime locations popular commercial areas such as Phloenchit, Langsuan, Sukhumvit or Sathon roads.
While the above-mentioned areas are still desirable, one can look at locations from a different perspective, which is the view and open space a residence offers. In a metropolis with a population in excess of 10 million and congestion in central areas, a location offering an unblocked, panoramic or open view of attractive scenery is rare.
The locations offering the best views of the green belts remaining in the city include those overlooking Lumpini Park, the Royal Bangkok Sports Club, the Tobacco Monopoly lake, areas on Witthayu Road overlooking the embassies of the Netherlands, US and the UK, the Sathon area with views of the German, Austrian and Danish embassies, and Benjakiti Park.
Any condominium developments offering views such as these are considered good investments with long-term capital appreciation, as land for development in these areas is now scarce.
Another zone with some of the city's best views, but that has not yet been developed extensively is the Chao Phraya riverside. Only recently have we begun to see a revival of interest from developers in riverside locations. Among the new developments and site acquisitions for large-scale projects along the Chao Phraya are the River, which is close to completion, and Asiatique the Riverfront on Charoen Krung Road.
Future developments that have been announced along the riverside include the Capella Bangkok Hotel and Residence, a mixed-use development currently in the planning phase and located near Shrewsbury International School; Menam Residence, to be developed by the owner of the Mae Nam Ramada Plaza Hotel; and most recently, a 35 billion baht iconic mixed-use development on a 40 rai plot between the Millennium Hilton and the Peninsula Hotel by a joint venture between CP Group, Magnolia Quality Development Corporation and Siam Piwat, the owner and operator of Siam Paragon, Siam Centre and Siam Discovery.
The areas along the Chao Phraya located within close proximity to some of the city's main commercial districts include Charoen Krung and Charoen Nakhon. The distance from these riverside locations to the thoroughfares of Silom and Sathon is less than 10km. The areas that were historically Bangkok's commercial centre range from Koh Rattanakosin and Songwad and along Charoen Krung Road down to Thanon Tok. Today, popular riverside locations have expanded to Rama III Road. The river in this area is more natural, overlooking 15 square kilometres of green belt, a preserved area called Bang Krajao.
The developments along Charoen Nakhon Road are more focused on residential properties, but most of them lack modern retail facilities. Even though there are several five-star hotels developed, the area remains an old residential area with low-density and low-rise developments. Given that one of Bangkok's main commercial areas is just across the bridge, most people living in this area rely on modern retail facilities in the central area.
Similarly, Charoen Krung Road and Rama III on the Bangkok side also lack new retail developments and facilities. I expect that developments in the pipeline which have been announced, especially from well-established developers, to revive the riverside and take it further into a new era.
Apart from the potential to become Bangkok's new residential hub, the riverside area also has untapped potential for tourist attractions. Even though river tours are among the most popular activities for tourists, unlike other major cities, Bangkok currently does not have much in the way of riverfront landmark attractions.
Together with the upcoming development activities by the private sector, it would be a great support if the government and the BMA also participated to fast-track the growth of the area. As part of the new city planning and tourism promotion, the riverside area can be treated as a special economic zone to promote tourism.
For instance, the route from Koh Rattanakosin to the Bangkok Bridge covers many major tourist attractions including the Grand Palace, Wat Pho, Wat Arun, Wat Rakang, Wat Kalaya, the Flower Market, Chinatown and major five-star hotels. Rules, regulations, zoning and land use should be reviewed to allow supporting facilities, infrastructure and transport such as the expansion of road access to the river, a public boardwalk area and an extended mass-transit network.
A better river transport system including modern river piers and ferries that connect to the BTS, MRT and major roads is an important catalyst to increase demand for riverfront locations. In the meantime, any developments in tourist areas should preserve the essence of local architecture and culture to offer uniqueness.
With all of the potential and new developments in the pipeline, I believe the riverside is the next hot spot to be watched.
About the author
Writer: Aliwassa Pathnadabutr