Every once in a while, a weekend getaway is just want one needs. A little peace and quiet surrounded by nature. Being in Bangkok, one doesn’t even have to travel far to achieve this. A quick hour on the expressway and minus any traffic, if you’re lucky, takes you to the next province of Nonthaburi. It is here that life remains fairly grounded aka few tall buildings and nothing but provincial vibes.
Buddy Riverside, also known as Buddy Oriental Riverside, is in Pakkret and sort of close to Impact Muang Thong Thani. Though close enough to nature, so close that the long winding road that leads to it has a certain charm to it. Pass a fleet of vintage cars, including three vintage Rolls Royce, and you’re at your destination.
An all white, colonial style resort on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, Buddy has accommodations that fit every mood. I chose the Grand River View room as oppose to a pool villa, garden villa or pool/garden view room. It did not disappoint.
Quaint is a word that comes to mind. The room is spacious, though dated, but anything swank would almost feel out of place here. The four-poster king bed with its mosquito netting reminded me of childhood summers spent in Bangalore, where our colonial-style house had the same bed and netting. The resort is 11 years old but is well maintained and transports one back to the days of “Siam”. Each room has a mini balcony and mine was pool and river facing, a good spot to watch the idyllic river and the odd boat go by, or even watch the sky change in a matter of minutes. On a rainy day, it has the most romantic feel to it.
At the riverfront there is “Siriphraya Fort”, which is the hotel’s iconic showpiece and has a pier. It is here that every fourth Sunday of the month, monks from the nearby temple arrive by boat for morning alms-giving. It is also the spot for Loy Krathong celebrations. The hotel owner also showcases his prized collections, which are clearly a lot more than the cars, in a gallery. The lush gardens are well-manicured and its tranquil to spend time walking around nature with the cool river breeze blowing.
Breakfast is served at Fahprapha, which is within the main resort building. Though the entrance is designed like a traditional Thai restaurant it opens up to a modern room, river-facing with alfresco seating. Start the day with a freshly-brewed coffee and a breakfast buffet offering a selection of Western and Asian specialties, with an egg station. The floor to ceiling windows, should you be seated indoors in air-conditioned comfort, offer a splendid view of the river in the morning sun.
Song Fang Klong is the open-air riverside restaurant, as the name suggests. Though it has indoor seating for the rainy days with a complete pub, Mulligans, inside it! A sight to behold! Serving Thai cuisine, enhanced by live music, the restaurant’s signature dishes are Grilled giant river prawn, which I’ve come to accept as a norm when by the River Of Kings. The Grilled sea bass, Stir-fried cabbage in fish sauce, Stir-fried fish with red chilli, Prawn wrapped in vegetables and Braised pork tendons in tom yum are equally satisfying. I really enjoyed the Squid with salted egg, too. Both restaurants share the same menu, which is a good thing. So dishes that you missed out at dinner can be eaten at lunch the next day or vice versa.
Buddy Oriental Riverside is a popular wedding and government business meeting venue. They are so popular that the tennis court has been converted to a garden with a sala for an outdoor wedding, weather permitted. The resort has plenty of IG and scenic spots for the perfect wedding album, with the river in the background and lush greenery in the foreground. The massive tree by the river has benches at the base for a quiet reading spot. Meditation would work, too!
If you need a bit of rest and relaxation, the two pools should be enough for some energetic or lazy swimming. The lagoon pool is within the resort and has a pool bar. The main pool is on a deck overlooking the river and can seen private as there never is anyone in it. There are sun loungers though I spotted only one sun umbrella, but I’m told it is awaiting renovations.
Since this is a lovely weekend escape, I wouldn’t recommend going out. Though you can hire a boat to ride down the river or dine at the neighbouring Suan Thip restaurant, which has a Michelin star. A visit to the famous Wat Phra Chetuphon is a must before leaving the area. Koh Kret is some 2km away.
To get a feel of “Bangkok” and what life was like before gentrification became a thing, a weekend getaway at Buddy Riverside is highly recommended. It is also a good spot to catch your breath if visiting Nonthaburi. Visit buddyriverside.com.