The heart of heritage: A glimpse of Bangkok’s Chinatown
BEYOND BANGKOK’S bustling markets is one of the lesser-known destinations in the city that’s quickly transforming into one of the hippest areas.
Chinatown. A neighborhood with such rich history and so steeped in culture, it’ll transport you back in time.
Located along Yaowarat Road, Bangkok’s Chinatown was founded in 1782 when King Rama I moved the Thai capital to the east bank of the Chao Phraya River and served as the home of the Teochew immigrant population. To this day, it’s a hub of Chinese culture, with temples and shrines, a staggering array of shops selling traditional goods, and a gastronomic bonanza.
Help yourself to a piping hot bowl of chubgung noodles (pork and vegetable noodles) from a street vendor before heading off to Sampeng Lane market, a hidden gem and one of the city’s largest and cheapest places to purchase wholesale fabrics and custom jewelry.
It’s particularly interesting to visit Chinatown during festival times, such as Chinese New Year and the Vegetarian Festival, when the scent of burning incense fills the air and worshippers rush to make merit.
If you’re lucky enough, you may even get a glimpse of the traditional Chinese opera performances that take place around the temples and shrines.
Just be sure to avoid bumping into locals in the midst of all the hustle and bustle as the district has narrow lanes.
For travel photographers, Bangkok’s Chinatown is “eye candy central” as it boasts charming old shophouses and brightly lit roads with a myriad of overhead signs reminiscent of Hong Kong’s streets. These days, the area has also seen lively bars and quaint coffee joints mushrooming in and around the traditional food scene, giving it a pleasant contrast.
Whether you’re penning Chinatown into your itinerary because you’re craving for a delectable Chinese breakfast or you simply can’t wait to earn some bragging rights when you spam your Instagram feed with pictures, the vibrant neighborhood is a must-see.
And it will keep you wanting to go back for more.
How to get there:
- Take the MRT subway to Hua Lamphong MRT station. Alight at Hua Lamphong then either take a tuk-tuk (auto rickshaw) or walk a distance to Chinatown.
- Take Chao Phraya Express Boat and get off at Ratchawong Pier. The pier is just a few hundred meters from Yaowarat Road and Sampeng Lane.