The East Asiatic Company’s former warehouses and saw mill on the Chaopraya river front next to Wat Phraya Krai temple on Charoenkrung Road opened on Friday 27 April as a new, fashionable shopping, pub and restaurant area under the new name Asiatique.
The area is huge. If you have ever been to Chatuchak Market and found that overwhelming – double that and you have a sense of what Asiatique is like. The myriad of shops are mostly in the higher end of the gift market with a strong element of antique shops.
The opening was an extravagant, star studded stage show. Hundreds of VIP’s attended the opening and even more press people were accredited to cover the party. Bangkok Governor MR Sukhumbhand Paribatra wished the developers and shop owners a succesful future. A musical style show with Kemanit Jamikorn and Siwat Chckchaijarin glittered on the stage.
The evening culminated with the formal opening of the area in its new shape by Mr. Charoen and Khunying Wanna Sirivadhanabhakdi in a shower of fireworks from barges anchored up in the middle of the river outside the banquet area.
A concert by well-known singer Natida Asavahame capped the evening.
Warehouse 6, Trok 2
Asiatique is divided into four divisions, the Charoenkrung District, the Town Square, the Factory District and the Waterfront area. The ambience of the area is kept. All buildings are marked as Warehouse number so and so, and inside the warehouses the aisles are called “Trok” which in Thai means a small lane.
According to the TCC Land, there has been a plan where ideally which kind of shops should be located, but when walking around the area, this is not quite clear. Hopefully the many antique shops scattered all over the place will stay on after the promotion period as they lend a historic ambience to the area.
According to the plan, the Charoenkrung District is where customers find more than 1,000 shops for souvenirs, home décor items, entertainment and performing arts, and choices of restaurants; Town Square is designated for outdoor events and activities surrounded by international dining scene and sports bars; Factory District showcases of hip dining outlets and shops selling products with style, and the last one Waterfront area is the 300-meters riverside promenade with chic international restaurants offering Thai, Chinese, Japanese and International cuisine including local seafood.
EAC sold the area to the wealthy Thai businessman Charoen Sirivdhanabhakdi twenty five years ago, but it was only until a few years back, that M. Charoen’s real estate company TCC Land began to develop the idea that has today become the Asiatique. The area is launched with the subtitle “The Riverfront”, but that add-on will probably soon fade away.
In front of the name Asiatique is an anchor which signals its river front location. In the middle of the area a big white building carries the name Asia House – like EAC’s Asia House in Copenhagen. Here it is the intention to keep alive the heritage of the whole area.
Between the warehouses, a few new old structures are built in colonial style.
Preserving the heritage of the area was presented at the opening as a tribute to King Chulalongkorn. Somehow, H.N. Andersen’s voyage with the ship Toomkramom with teak wood for Europe was in the speech of the MC credited to King Chulalongkorn and as a follow up it was the King who was behind the warehouses and saw mill to de developed to serve as “the first international port” of Bangkok.
Several life size bronze statues are placed around the area, depicting Chinese kulis offloading sacks of goods, pulling rickshaws, or Chinese businessmen negotiating.
The area forms a perfect cluster with its immediate neighbor, the temple and the very nearby Protestant Cemetery where so many of the former Danish and Norwegian sailors, officers and businessmen are burried.
Charoenkrung back on he map
In a commercial and life style sense, Asiatique gives a much needed lift to the otherwise rather underdeveloped south-eastern end of Charoenkrung road beyond the junction with Chan Road.
Prior to the official opening on Friday night, the Asiatique has been the venue of a few successful events already. It all started with a well-visited New Year Count Down which was followed up by a Valentine Celebration.
According to Mr. Napat Charoenkul, Director of Asiatique The Riverfront Project, there are already many requests from interesting brands queuing up to organize events and activities be it parties, gatherings or product launches on the premises.
Because of its unique identity, Tourism Authority of Thailand has also endorsed Asiatique as a member of the official Amazing Thailand Campaign.
The best way to visit the area – a perfect weekend adventure(!) – is to take the skytrain to Taksin bridge and then take the shuttlebus from there to the Asiatique.
Asiatique is open everyday from 5.00-12.00 p.m.
If you want to drive and don’t mind getting stuck in traffic, take the expressway to Chan Road and drive down to Charoenkrung and turn left to the south. Asiatique is on your right hand side. You won’t miss it.
Visit also Asiatique on one of the following websites www.asiatiquethailand.com and www.facebook.com/asiatique.thailand