Riverside hippie hideaway
New Phiman Riverside is an oddity that will be heaven for some hippie types and bloody awful for those who like things neat and tidy. With a shantytown feel and splendid views of the Chao Phraya, it’s one of the most peculiar places to stay that this writer has ever come across.
Near the dead-end of Samsen Soi 5, a ramshackle muay Thai ring and ancient banyan tree make it clear that you’re not in tourist-land anymore. A left down a narrow alley—then the first right, then another right, then a left—leads you to a thin metal door. A pair of cartoonish baby faces signal that you’ve arrived.
After stepping inside you’re first met by a couple of bright orange-and-yellow parakeets in a cage. Across from them sits the main guesthouse building with a lineup of small rooms sporting firm beds, mosquito nets, portable fans, clothes-drying racks on hardwood floors and perhaps a funky mural painted on the thin walls. These rely on a couple of shared bathrooms with grungy cold-water showers and waterspouts set over utilitarian tiled sinks.
Further back sits a mixed dorm that looks like it belongs in the islands or jungle. The longhouse with creaky bamboo floors and thatch walls and roof comes with two raised platforms on either side, each with four thin mattresses draped in mosquito nets. Backpackers carve out little nests while stowing valuables in large bureaus beneath the platforms. Bring a padlock. Fans keep the air moving and we were told an electrical outlet is found somewhere. To use a toilet you’ll have to walk outside and into the next building over.
Also hosting a grimy common kitchen on the ground floor, a somewhat more sturdy looking building features a second-floor “suite” with high ceilings and bed space for three to go with some chairs on a good-size balcony with river views. The attached bathroom is situated out on the porch, with a tiny open-air sink that can be seen from elsewhere on the property.
New Phiman also has one fan-cooled bungalow with thatch walls and roof, a double mattress on laminated floor, some hanging seashells and a door that you can open to watch the river flowing no more than a few metres away. It’s an unforgettable setup for those who don’t mind being close to nature; just be sure to keep that door shut at night to keep the monitor lizards out.
All four buildings join ramshackle walkways around a central pond blanketed in water plants. The result is a cluttered feel not unlike the surrounding village with its tangle of dilapidated wooden houses. The guesthouse is also not particularly clean; expect dusty corners inside rooms and an unkempt look throughout. A sign in the dorm instructs guests to not bring food inside, adding that “All rats and ants smell food from afar and may come.”
Now for the saving grace: a riverside common terrace affords splendid views from plastic lounge chairs spread beneath a thatch awning draped in umbrella trees. Here guests can relax and watch the boats chug beneath Rama VIII Bridge from what is truly a unique perspective on Bangkok. On our last visit, a few guests played their own selections of reggae and electronic music through speakers, while another sat practicing his guitar nearby.
Be aware that New Phiman does not have WiFi, and noise from the music, guests and boats should be expected at night. We’ve enjoyed our conversations with the eccentric owner, though we can see how things could go south if guests show up expecting a more typical guesthouse experience.
Despite being located only a kilometre northwest of Khao San Road, the New Phiman is tricky to find. Walk to the far western end of Samsen Soi 5 and take a left down the narrow concrete walkway closest to the river. Locals and signs will likely point you the rest of the way—arriving before dark would make things a lot easier.
Address: West end of Samsen Soi 5, Bangkok
T: (085) 404 8326; (081) 486 5865;
Coordinates (for GPS): 100º29'51.17" E, 13º46'2.56" N
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
Room rates: Under 600B
What we were quoted as a walk-in.
|Dorm fan cooled||180 baht||180 baht|
|Sgl fan share bathroom||250 baht||250 baht|
|Dbl fan share bathroom|
450 baht for a larger room
|350 baht||350 baht|
|Bungalow fan share bathroom|
|450 baht||450 baht|
|Triple fan share bathroom||650 baht||650 baht|
|Triple fan private bathroom|
|1,000 baht||1,000 baht|
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
Provided by Travelfish partner Agoda.
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