Established in 1993 together with the adjoining –and even loftier- Plaza Hotel (now the Holiday Inn), Riverside condominium was the brainchild of a Pakistani property developer and in which whose surviving relatives still live to this very day! No different to a number of other older condos throughout Chiang Mai, though, Riverside condo has in the past witnessed more than its fair share of drama at the hands of unethical management and disreputable committees. Yet in spite of its somewhat turbulent history, the single building has consistently been well maintained and, although understandably now showing its age in certain respects, among foreign expats especially it continues to be one of the most popular condos in Chiang Mai not least on account of its approachable staff, noticeable community spirit and favourable geographic setting.
Situated amid an authentically Thai urban neighbourhood in the heritage subdistrict of Wat Ket (or Wat Gate) south east of the ‘Old City’, the towering Riverside condo is sandwiched between a man-made thoroughfare and a naturally-occurring waterway; on one side of the condo is the Chiang Mai-Lamphun Road graced with hundreds of stately and sacredly protected century-old yang na evergreens (often mistakenly identified as rubber trees) whilst the west-facing edge of the property sits right on the verdant banks of the gently meandering Mae Ping River with higher floors in particular boasting some of the most sensational far-reaching and uninterrupted 180 degree scenic vistas of any high-rise structure anywhere in the city; indeed, an almost unrivalled venue from which to fully appreciate the breathtaking sunsets over the distant Thanon Thong Chai mountains and Wat Phra That Doi Suthep temple.
Within steps of Riverside condo lies a multitude of everyday amenities enough to satisfy even the most discerning resident’s immediate needs. Right in front of the property, in fact, stands a 24-hour 7-Eleven as well as several mom and pop roadside eateries including the ever-personable and equally budget-friendly Laila serving up a modest selection of delicious Thai style halal curries and biriyani dishes. Directly facing the property across the Chiang Mai-Lamphun highway is a Caltex filling (gas) station with forecourt Tops Daily convenience store in addition to an Esso filling station and attached Tesco Lotus Express “mini-supermarket” scarcely a few minutes’ walk along the main drag. A comparable distance away in the opposite direction is the locally priced and amply stocked wet market, Kad Nong Hoi open every day while 500m round the corner from Riverside condo -passing the private mid-tier Rajavej Hospital and crossing the Mengrai Bridge- is the twice weekly and little-known farmers’ market, Kad Sailomjoy. For a premium class of domestic groceries and imported food temptations, residents can head due north to reach the Nawarat –and flagship- branch of Chiang Mai’s native supermarket chain, Rimping. En route is the Chiengmai Gymkhana Club, reputedly the oldest sports association in the whole of South East Asia and, founded in 1898, offers an exciting insight into Chiang Mai’s bygone era. For the ultimate experience in retail therapy, the shopping malls of CentralFestival, Central Airport Plaza and Promenada Resort are all readily accessible –as are various other destinations throughout the city- by boarding their respective free shuttle buses which depart several times daily from the four star Holiday Inn which flanks Riverside condo.
Besides the round-the-clock presence of a uniformed security guard at the barricade gate to Riverside condo, video surveillance cameras are mounted both indoors and out with entry into the building controlled by means of a personal-issue electronic keycard; for added peace of mind, residents benefit from an obliging reception desk staffed every day of the week from 8AM to 5PM with a separate juristic person available during the same hours Monday to Saturday. As well as enjoying a generous parking capacity with designated –albeit uncovered- bays for dozens of motorbikes and as many cars, at the rear of the property overlooking the river and beyond to the forested peaks of the national park is a delightfully pretty and wonderfully serene garden area complete with stone seating. Just inside the main entrance of the building is an enormously proportioned –if rather sparsely appointed- communal lobby featuring a liberal gathering of comfy –though a little dated in design- leather sofas and matching armchairs. Likewise located on the ground floor is a laundry shop sheltering a few self-service, coin-operated washing machines or, alternately, residents can avail of the infinitely less labour-intensive serviced wash facility. Sadly, though, the on-site Kafé Kafé coffee shop is longer open. Taking whichever of the stairs or any of the four passenger lifts (one of which is an outer glass elevator) one floor up reveals a decent sized oval-shaped outdoor swimming pool, surrounding sun deck with a collection of reclining loungers interspersed with planted greenery, sauna, shared lounge but presently absent of a gym. WiFi is supplied to all common areas of the complex but its use is not complimentary instead costing 350 baht per month or, preferably, residents can arrange –at their own expense- installation of high-speed home broadband through any of the city’s Internet Service Providers.
A dizzying 19 storeys in stature with wide corridors and 3m high ceilings, Riverside condo accommodates 552 air-conditioned, balconied and -for the most part- fully furnished residential units. Studio rooms predominate and measure 46 sq m thus offering approximately 50% more habitable space than the average of its kind in Chiang Mai whereas the largest 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom units each comprise no less than three private terraces and weigh in at a voluminous 146 sq m. Over time, the interior presentation of many of the original condo units has been modernised with the extent and specification of furnishings, range and quality of electrical appliances and home wares as well as the layout and decorative style entirely influenced by the individual owner.
Primarily the haunt of foreign visitors in particular western occupants along with Japanese and Korean folk, Riverside condo is one of the precious few condominium buildings in Chiang Mai to fulfil its 49% foreign-owned threshold though, at this very moment, it hovers just around the legal limit.
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