With all the capital's downtown hustle and jams, it's easy to forget that Bangkok is almost coastal. Heading anywhere south of Sathorn along the Chao Phraya, where the riverside hotels cede the valuable real estate to more industrial enterprises, you are reminded that Bangkok is indeed an active port, a tradition that began over 100 years ago with the opening of the East Asiatic Company's Siam pier. Hans Niels Andersen founded the company to create passenger and freight links by sea between Denmark and the Far East. He organized the construction of the pier and warehouses, the oldest of which date back to 1907, and would hopefully be impressed by a tasteful renovation of the area which is now Asiatique The Riverfront.
!In a city of multiple identikit malls Asiatique has worked hard to create a more interesting and diverting destination. This development positions itself as a festival market and living museum and, rather than bulldozing the area and throwing up a shiny air-con mall, they've put some thought and effort into preserving at least some of Bangkok's important maritime and trading history.
Asiatique is located on a broad stretch of riverfront downstream from Saphan Taksin and you could brave the traffic along Charoenkrung Road to get there, but much better is to arrive as the traders did a hundred years ago, by boat.
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