Riverside Condos in Bangkok, Thailand
The development of riverside condos in Bangkok is a relatively new phenomenon.
Yes, there were some riverside condos built before the mid-1990s, but nothing like what’s been happening on the waterfront over the last 20-25 years.
The Chao Phraya river
The mighty Chao Phraya river (River of Kings) is, to many, the heart of Krungthepmahanakhon (Bangkok). It begins its almost 400km journey as far north as Nakhon Sawan. Originating at the confluence of the Ping and Nan rivers, the Chao Phraya flows south for some 372 kilometres. It travels across Thailand’s central plains to Bangkok and the Gulf of Thailand.
The river has always been important to the country’s trade and surface communications network over the centuries. As a result, building riverside residential properties was low on the list of priorities. Certainly, in the central Bangkok area, much of the prime riverside land was previously occupied by wharves, warehouses and ship repair yards.
Up until the turn of the last century, there were a few high-rise developments on the east bank of the Chao Phraya. Developments which were there included the Shangri-La, the Oriental and Sheraton Hotels. But not many riverside condos. However, the Shangri-La, for example, did have some long stay apartments within its mixed-use hotel, retail, office complex.
The game changer for the development of riverside condos, though, was the advent of the BTS sky train system some 20 years ago. Plus, the realisation of many developers that there were many sites riverside which could benefit from a change of use to quality condo developments. One riverfront area being targeted was the “new” area around Rama 3, The other area, a more central riverside location north and south of Taksin Bridge.
Pre-BTS, the area around Charoen Krung Road was (like many parts of Bangkok) seriously congested. It was not a living environment to be enjoyed. There were narrow sois and commercial, semi-industrial and low-rise low-quality residential developments existing side by side.
Similarly, the west bank of the Chao Phraya river around Thonburi, despite having numerous road bridge links, was not considered desirable for riverside condo development. Overall, access was still poor, with the road bridges being forever jammed up with traffic. Commuter boat traffic plying the river served the local population. However, boats didn’t appeal to potential high-end condo owners who were more used to commuting by air-conditioned car.
Yet things began to change as accessibility both to the east and west banks of the river was perceived to be improving. Developers such as Raimon Land began to pioneer riverside condo development—mainly on the west bank in Raimon’s case.
Other developers soon followed as a re-appreciation of the beauty of the river and acceptability of riverside living took hold. Obviously, as more condos were developed riverside, “other” uses such as ship repair yards or semi-industrial uses were relocating and the area greatly improved as a living environment.
Fast forward some 20 years and today the riverside’s landscape and way of life has changed dramatically. There are soaring development projects, from retail and commercial buildings, to hotels and riverside condos.
Still, prime riverside locations in Bangkok, suitable for luxury riverside condominium developments, remain limited. The areas around Charoen Krung, Charoen Nakhon, and Rama III Riverside are now the most popular. This is mainly as they are located closest to the Central Business District (CBD) with easy access to transportation around the city.
Supply and recent developments
The total completed condominium supply in the riverside area is currently only around 16,500 units. There is limited growth every year due to the scarcity of suitable riverside sites. In fact, this is less than 10% of the completed condo units in the downtown areas over the last two years.
However, with continued interest in riverside properties, both supply and demand for riverside residences are expected to increase. This demand may become more acute as it is expected that there will be less than 1,000 new riverside units will be completed riverside in the next two years
Whilst the earlier riverside condo developments were “stand alone” in that they there were single towers, a relatively recent trend has been for mixed-use complexes to be developed. These offer integrated living, often with large retail areas, hotels and some office space, as well as luxury riverside condos. Of late, there have been four super-luxury residential projects in the riverside area: Magnolias Waterfront Residences at Icon Siam, Four Seasons Private Residences Bangkok, The Residences at Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, and Banyan Tree Residences Riverside Bangkok.
The latter three are all managed by international, branded hotels, which enhances the attractiveness and image of these high-quality projects. Selling prices are, as you might expect, high. They range from 300,000 to 600,000 baht per square metre.
Convenience and, maybe most importantly, Prestige of riverside condos in Bangkok
The areas either side of the Chao Phraya river, especially around the Taksin Bridge and heading north and south are now replete with modern amenities. There is daily necessity and luxury shopping, and an abundance of restaurants plus entertainment (ie Asiatique or IconSiam). Within easy reach of the city’s CBD, residents of riverside condos in Bangkok can commute by car, upgraded ferries and the BTS.
Some of the riverside areas also retain a cultural heritage, scenic landmarks, historical sites, and interesting temples, not to mention the beauty of the slow-moving river itself.
With a limited supply and quality living to the fore, prices of riverside condos in Bangkok are now typically higher than those in other locations in Bangkok. This has helped create and maintain a market for branded riverside condos as mentioned above. Such condos have become more popular with wealthy clients, both domestic and international. In other words, riverside living is “Prestige Living” at its best.
Ongoing enhancements to the riverside area
The revitalisation of the Yaowarat (Chinatown) and the Charoen Krung areas into major tourist destinations will also help boost demand for riverside properties.
The transformation from old, crowded commercial areas to newly regenerated trendy attractions is noticeable. Many older buildings have potential to be renovated and converted to small hotels, bars, restaurants and tourist-focused retail stores. All adding to the attraction of owning a condo by the riverside.
The appeal of the riverside areas will be further enhanced when the Blue Line extension of the BTS opens. This will provide mass transit access to Chinatown for the first time. Of the eleven new Blue Line stations, four will be tourist attractions with historical designs.
The Gold Line on Charoen Nakhon Road will also further open up the riverside as a desirable place to live.
Riverside condos in Bangkok, a good investment choice for long term capital growth
Condos in Bangkok’s riverside areas remain in high demand. The additional investment in infrastructure and regeneration of the riverside continues to extend to new public developments. These include the new BTS extension(s), luxurious hotels, shops, attractions and restaurants.
With a limited supply of development land along the river, together with the attraction of stunning views, historical and cultural attractions, prices of luxury riverside condominiums have stayed strong even when the overall market has not. In fact, values have appreciated at an average of 10%-12% per annum over the past five or six years.
Nowadays, prices have matched and overtaken those of high-end projects on Sathorn or Wireless or other prestigious locations elsewhere in the city.
This is a far cry from the time when Bangkok’s riverside condos were priced lower than other popular locations, such as Sukhumvit and/or Silom areas.
Indeed, in view of all the positives, there seem to be good reasons why the trend in price growth for riverside condos will continue into the future.