To be clear, this is only a review of the 10AM-12PM "Morning Workshop" daily arts and crafts experience, NOT a review of the hotel, the show, or the place in general.
First of all, when we called on the phone, we were told that it cost 550 baht to enter the Thai Village section of Sampran Riverside. We were not told that it was an extra 50 each just to enter the Sampran Riverside complex itself, nor that the Morning Workshop and afternoon Thai Village Show were 550 baht EACH.
The arts and crafts experiences themselves were for the most part extremely boring, largely due to the general disinterest of the staff. At the Muay Thai booth, the teenager in charge walked up to a punching bag, said "Muay Thai" blandly, kicked the bag, and then helped us put on boxing gloves so we could take pictures. At the swordplay booth, again, two very unimpressive young men did a three move, ten second routine, then gave us the swords to entertain ourselves with. They stared at us blankly when we asked if we could see them use the other weapons hanging about. The herbal compress man explained to us what was in the compresses, but didn't let us make one; he also extolled how great they are when steamed and pretended to rub one all over himself. However, he didn't steam one or let us try anything. At the umbrella station, we were allowed to paint six strokes on a piece of paper taped to an umbrella. The silk station was pure spectator sport; at the bamboo art station, the workers pretty much assembled everything for you; the cooking station consisted of mashing a single banana; "farming" meant smashing the hulls off some rice with a pestle; "vegetable carving," which only women are allowed to participate in, meant trying your best to keep up with a teacher, herself busy gossiping with the other staff just sitting there.
Only a few of the activities were not total failures: the bamboo dance section wasn't too bad, nor was the Thai dance, and at the pottery section you actually get to make your own clay cup. Still, the whole time, hardly any of the staff (even our assigned guide!) spoke English, very few showed us anything interesting or worthwhile.
I should mention that my two friends and I were the only guests there. If service is this bad when there are no crowds, I can't imagine how terrible it must be in high season.
In summary, there is almost no truth at all to the following statement from their website:
"There are trained staff at each station to demonstrate the activity and provide information so you are able to obtain a full hands on experience"
The only reason that I gave Sampran Riverside two stars rather than one is that it might be fun to do with children. Actually, a class of Thai kindergartners arrived shortly after we did. At least they had a blast.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- This beautifully landscaped 70-acre botanical park by the Ta Chine River is located just outside Bangkok and has provided entertainment, relaxation, accommodation and a place to meet since 1962. Culture, tradition and a native way of life have been preserved through daily practices and performances. See our way of life for yourself on your next visit to Sampran Riverside. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Rose Garden Riverside Hotel Sam Phran
- Sampran Riverside Thailand/Nakhon Pathom Province