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Sampran Riverside Thailand - Hotel Review
"Sampran Riverside? Okay. Thanks, Mom," said I, grateful yet uninspired, after learning that my mother had booked a room at this hotel for me and my husband. Its location near the beautiful Ta-Chine River and its renowned botanical garden didn't excite me much. Having lived in Sacramento for over a decade, I became somewhat jaded by rivers and gardens already. We were going to spend only 2 weeks in Thailand. I was more enthused to revisit Bangkok, my charmingly hectic home city, and to loaf on the delightful Cha-Am Beach over the weekend. One day and night at Sampran Riverside Resort seemed to me like an unnecessary program on my travel schedule. Yet, lo and behold, it turned out my preconceived notion about this hideaway was quite wrong. My husband and I really cherished our time there and wished we could have stayed longer. Now you may wonder what changed my mind. Was I suddenly enthralled by the magic of the river? Or were there talking trees in the botanical garden? Well, the river was just the river, and none of the trees could talk. What won me over was the "hidden paradise" atmosphere of the entire resort as well as the impressive dining experience and great diversity of activities available to us.
My Review of Sampran Riverside Thailand
Sampran Riverside - Location
Also known as "Rose Garden Riverside" and "Suan Sampran", Sampran Riverside Resort is humbly nestled in Nakhon Pathom, a small outskirt town of Bangkok. It took us just about 40 minutes to drive from Bangkok to the hotel. If we had traveled during rush hours, however, we would probably have had to sit in the car at least an hour longer. (Yes, rush-hour traffic in Bangkok is merciless; avoid it with all your might!) For those who want to spend the day in the city and stay in a peaceful sanctuary at night, this riverside resort is a very good choice. Plus, there are many other worth-visiting attractions within a couple hour drive. Ayudhaya, the old capital city of Thailand, is not too far up north. The famous Damnern Saduak Floating Market is within an hour drive. And if you go a little further down south, there are several gorgeous beaches to check out, such as Cha-Am and Hua Hin.
Map for Sampran Riverside Resort and Nearby Holiday Spots
Sampran Riverside - Deluxe Room ReviewClick thumbnail to view full-size
Deluxe Room Amenities
Complimentary Fruit Basket
Mini Bar / Refrigerator
Safety Deposit Box
The lodging options at Sampran Riverside include 73 garden-view superior rooms, 69 river-view superior rooms, 7 river-view deluxe rooms, 7 river-view suites, and 6 traditional Thai houses in the lush central garden. Thanks to my mom's generosity, we got to stay in a nice deluxe room overlooking the serene Ta-Chine River. Although the interior decoration was not that memorable, the room's spacious square footage certainly provided a sense of luxury. Free wi-fi Internet access was available but not as high-speed as advertised. That didn't really bother me, though. I wanted to use the Internet as little as possible during my vacation anyway. The bathroom was sparkling clean, with a nice bathtub and a good-size shower room. The basket of homemade organic toiletries was also a lovely addition. Everything was herbally aromatic and came in dainty containers; it felt almost like having a private spa. Finally, the best feature of our one-night abode was the private balcony that invited us to just sit idly in the late afternoon, sip our drinks, enjoy gentle breezes from the untarnished river, and watch random boats drift by. I still don't think there was anything extraordinary about the river, yet that afternoon, I guess I somehow developed a little bond with it.
Sampran Riverside - Rim Nam Restaurant
Out of a few dining options at the resort, we chose to have dinner at Rim Nam Restaurant because they offered attractive outdoor seatings by the river. According to our friendly waiter, a lot of their fresh ingredients and spices were from the resort's very own organic garden. The menu was huge and comprised of three sections: Thai, Western and Japanese cuisines. My husband might have been slightly tempted by the mouthwatering pictures of western dishes on the menu, yet we both agreed we didn't fly an 18-hour flight from the U.S. to Thailand to eat burgers or pasta. An authentic Thai meal would be more worthy of our moolah. So we ordered roast duck curry, deep-fried catfish salad, grilled chicken wrapped in pandan leaves and some steamed rice. The foods came pretty quickly, and none of the dishes disappointed us. The roast duck curry, in particular, was very exquisite.
Halfway through our meal, the sight of the sunset surprisingly put me in a romantic mood. Yes, I said it was surprising because I'm usually not a romantic person at all. (I hate Valentine's Day, look down upon romance novels and think Titanic sucks.) At that peculiar moment, I felt like giving my husband a tender kiss and telling him I love him, but oh well, our dinner was too good so I just ate on. The sappy stuff could wait!
Complimentary Breakfast Buffet at Sampran RiversideClick thumbnail to view full-size
First of all, I have to admit I wish I had taken more photos of our breakfast buffet. Once again, I was too busy savoring my food to do much else. At Sampran Riverside, a complimentary breakfast buffet is available to guests every morning at Rim Nam Restaurant. The selection wasn't enormous but it was enticing. There were both authentic Thai and western-style breakfast choices. The foods were scrumptious, and nothing that I tried tasted like reheated leftovers from the day before. I also loved that they had staff members cook certain items for us right at the spot. What my husband and I both considered to be the best thing we had that morning was the Kanom Krok, a delicate coconut dessert. He actually got so hooked by it he wanted to bring a Kanom Krok pan back to Sacramento so we could make them ourselves. Unfortunately, we couldn't find one that was light and small enough to fit into our suitcase. He hasn't given up on his Kanom Krok pan pursuit yet, though. Maybe we'll find one online.
Thai Cultural Show at Sampran RiversideClick thumbnail to view full-size
This one-hour cultural performance is held twice a day at the resort's theater. Accompanied by live Thai classical music and English narration, the show demonstrates many aspects of Thai culture, including the world-famous Muay Thai boxing, sword fighting, classical dances, as well as traditional celebrations like the wedding and Buddhist monkhood ceremony. For those who are curious about the Thai way of living, this should be a tantalizing and educational performance to watch. For a Thai native like myself, it was entertaining enough. Although nothing in the show was new to me, I really enjoyed the music and lovely visuals. My only complaint: it felt as though the air conditioners in the theater might be broken that day.
Sampran Riverside - Botanical Walk
Known as a home of rare tropical herbs, flowers and vegetation, the Sampran Riverside Garden is a wonderful "amusement park" for botany enthusiasts. My husband and I are actually not very plant-savvy, but we had a great time exploring the garden nonetheless. I loved the hilly and snaky landscape of it. There were a lot of zigzagging shrubs; mini lotus ponds flaunting themselves among humble bonsais; little stairs and bridges that led to different sections; and lush foliage mottled with colorful wild fruits. All these features seemed to be put together in a charmingly disorganized fashion, giving the place a half-man-made and half-natural feel.
Sampran Riverside - Swimming Pool
Happy to learn that it was Ozone-treated and contained no chemical treatment whatsoever, we spent about an hour in this funky-shaped swimming pool. There was no lifeguard nearby, but the entire pool was just about 4 feet and 8 inches deep, so it seemed to be safe for most adults. At first, I thought the two mini pools on the side were jacuzzis, but it turned out they were normal pools, probably just for kids. My minor critique: I wish they would keep the water just a tiny bit warmer.
Other Resort Facilities and Activities We Did Not Attend
- Arusaya Spa
- Children Playground
- Thai Cooking Classes
- Fitness Center
- Herbal Workshops (Learning how to make homemade toiletries)
- Morning Workshops (Thai dancing, martial arts, traditional weaving, umbrella painting, pottery, vegetable carving, etc)
- Organic Farm Tour
- Pedal Boats
- Tennis Courts
- Weekend Farmer's Market
A Few Final Words on Sampran Riverside Resort
Is Sampran Riverside splendid enough to gain a five-star rating? No. But guess what? Luxury is not the only thing that makes our hotel experience worthwhile. This resort is not just a place to relax and enjoy ourselves, but also to gather valuable knowledge. I regret not staying long enough to visit the organic farm and attend their intriguing workshops, but there's always next time! On my next trip to Thailand, this hotel will definitely be one of my first choices.