Anantara Resorts, the Perfect Antidote to Bangkok’s Chaos
By Steve Jermanok
Bangkok is a sprawling, congested city and even when you arrive at the major sights like the Royal Palace and Wat Arun, they tend to be overcrowded. That’s why you need to take it slow, not place too many items on your itinerary, and stay at a great property where you will enjoy spending time. We split up our stay in Bangkok with two nights at the Anantara Siam and two nights at their sister property, Anantara Riverside.
Both properties feature a lavish spread at the breakfast buffet, including American, Chinese, and Indian favorites. Anantara Siam also features an excellent Thai Restaurant, Spice Monkey, where we dined our first night. Afterwards, we walked into the indoor courtyard and checked out the koi pond. The highlight at Anantara Siam was their signature 90-minute Siam 2482 deep-tissue massage. Using two bamboo sticks, eight herbal compresses, and gold leaf, my wife and I walked out of there as loose as a jellyfish.
Anantara Riverside has more of a resort feel, overlooking a large pool where you simply push a button on your menu and a server appears to take your order. The hotel was crowded with families who would spend the entire day splashing around in the 90-degree heat. The Riverside Dinner Cruise from the resort’s pier is a must, a 2-hour relaxing cruise along the Chao Phraya seeing the Royal Palace and Wat Arun lit up at night.
On our last day, to celebrate my wife’s birthday, we signed up for a 5-hour cooking course with one of Anantara’s chefs. At 8 am, we took a tuk tuk with Chef over to a local market and picked up all the necessary ingredients for the three courses we would soon make, including large prawns, chicken, lemongrass, galangal, chicory root, mushrooms, and many spicy peppers.
Soon we were back at the hotel’s outdoor cooking center on the 2nd floor, creating Golden Caps, crusted rice crackers filled with a chicken and shrimp filling; a spicy and delicious Thai soup that we’ve already tried at home; and a tender barramundi topped with spicy chili, curry powder, and lime. We finished with fresh mango that Chef sliced to look like bird’s wings, served with sticky rice that was topped with sweet coconut milk. A memorable birthday lunch!
Working as a columnist for National Geographic Adventure, contributing editor at Budget Travel, and regular contributor for The Boston Globe, Men’s Journal, and Yankee Magazine, Steve Jermanok has written more than 1,500 articles on 80 countries. He’s also authored or co-authored 11 books, including Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England and Men’s Journal’s The Great Life. With his wife, Lisa Leavitt, Steve launched a boutique travel agency, ActiveTravels.com, in May 2012. His clientele includes many people in the travel business, including Steve Kaufer, founder of TripAdvisor (designed his honeymoon to Turkey), and Mark Snider, owner of The Winnetu Resort on Martha’s Vineyard and The Nantucket Hotel on Nantucket. You can follow him @ActiveTravels