A Riverside Landmark Reinvented, Again

River City
The ‘new and improved’ River City Antiques Mall

When I first visited Thailand, River City Mall was a pretty sketchy place. There were many shops selling French Empire reproductions – the kind of tacky furniture that you wonder who buys – and the Thai ‘antiques’ were often a bit suspect at best. In the 20 years or so since I first visited, the mall has evolved and been renovated a few times.

River City’s latest makeover has just been completed, so I decided to check it out. The exterior has been covered with dark glass, with gold-colored scroll-work and advertising panels. It’s not very exciting, but it’s a small improvement over the old dull gray exterior. Inside, the layout is more or less the same, but all the surfaces have been refinished with warm earth-tones of stone and wood. The aisles seem a little wider than they used to be, but that may just be an illusion.

The big change at River City is in the shops themselves. It seems that most of the shops were closed for the renovations, and it looks like the management took the opportunity to clean out some of the junk. The tacky reproductions are gone, as are the questionable Asian antiques. What’s left are mostly some spectacular displays of Asian art, some of it contemporary but most of it dating back many years.

There are still a few empty shops on the lower levels, so I guess it all could still go wrong. There are also still a few cheap souvenir shops as well as a number of tailors near the hotel entrance, but these don’t detract from the main focus of the mall. I used to be rather cool on River City, but I’d now rate it as a place you should visit if you’re interested in Asian art.

River City is easy to reach, as it really is right on the river. They have a free shuttle boat from the pier next to the Taksin Bridge Skytrain Station, and most of the riverside hotels will send you there in their own boats.

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Posted in First Impressions

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