Laid-back veranda at Chotika Riverfront House
Once a small town off the tourism map, Amphawa in Samut Songkhram province is now a popular weekend getaway spot for Bangkokians. Chotika Riverfront House is one of several places where you can spend the night in the area, which is still laid-back and retains its upcountry charms.
The one-storey wooden building with nine guestrooms, built in 1942, was originally a sawmill. It features a wooden walkway along the Mae Klong River.
Amphawa's tranquillity belies how it once bustled in decades past when trade was conducted by waterways. During its heyday, Samut Songkhram was one of the most prosperous provinces in the Central region because of its prime location, which links the interior and the capital. Nostalgic urban tourists come here for the area's old town, floating markets and slower pace of life.
Chotika is well situated for those seeking such pleasures. From the guesthouse, you can see boats selling food from time to time and monks doing their alms rounds every morning.
The rooms are nicely divided into three parts: living area in the front, bedroom in the middle and bathroom in the end. In that respect the guestrooms are similar to the rooms in residents' houses in the area.
The guesthouse is located in an old residential area, where locals hang out on their verandas and talk to their neighbours next door and even across the river. Chotika is one of the best situated guesthouses because it is only about one kilometre from the tourist attractions including the evening floating market and the King Rama II Historical Park.
Despite its traditional look, each unit is equipped with modern amenities such as a fridge, air-conditioner, furniture, TV and hot shower.
However, each unit seems to be made for two people or three maximum. Yet chances are high you will run into a family reunion. The small rooms are often filled with several members of vacationing families, perhaps eating or playing cards.
So the peace and quiet you came for might prove to be elusive. Unless you are lucky enough to get room number 9 at the end of walkway, where you can enjoy a bit of privacy. The locals don't seem to mind the one-night visitors while the visitors don't seem to care that they are actually staying in a residential area.
The wooden walls are another defect, as they do little to block noise, which goes everywhere. During my stay, the guests next door had the TV on so loud that I could clearly hear the soap-opera conversations bleeding through the wall.
Otherwise, the place is fine, and well serves its purpose of providing relief from the city. The staff is friendly and helpful. Still, the rate of Bt1,500 for a weekend night and Bt1,300 for a weekday night (including breakfast) is a bit high. Free parking is available.