Thursday, 13 December 2018

Chinatown / Oldtown

Overview

This colourful commercial district has more to discover than its countless gold shops. For instance, there are Chinese herbal medicine stores, shops selling imported Chinese products and Chinese religious paraphernalia. At nightfall, especially, the area around Yaowarat and Charoen Krung roads is lively with Chinese restaurants as well as food and fruit stalls that attract many tourists and Thais. On the Chinese New Year’s Day, Yaowarat Rd. is closed to traffic to celebrate the festivity with Chinese food fairs and lion and dragon dances.

Location

Lying southeast of the Rattanakosin Island, Yaowarat or known as Chinatown is one of the oldest areas in Bangkok. The approximate 2-sq km area is bounded by Phadung Krungkasem Canal to the east, the Ong Ang Canal to the west, Luang Rd. to the north and the Chao Phraya River to the south. Main streets in Chinatown are (a section of) Charoen Krung Rd., the first road in Thailand to be constructed in the western style, and Yaowarat Rd., the main street for gold shops. Besides, there are many small alleys and backstreets which are Bangkok’s significant business communities. At night both sides of Yaowarat Road are brightened up by the flickering neon signs from gold shops and restaurants.

Easy access : Even though the traffic in Chinatown causes headaches to most Bangkokians, but we still love to go there. Charoen Krung Rd. is one-way east wards while Yaowarat Rd. is one-way west wards. There are both ordinary and air-con buses in the area.

Chao Phraya Express Boat : Get off at Ratchawong Pier and walk through Ratchawong Rd. about 200 metres, then you will get to Yaowarat Rd.

MRT Subway : Get off at Hua Lumphong Subway Station and walk across the Phadung Krungkasem Canal about 300 metres to the Odean Circle (the 6th Cycle Commemorative Gateway).

For taxi : ไชน่าทาวน์ เยาวราช

Interesting Places

Odean Circle

Odean Circle

At the Odean Circle a Chinese style arch was built to commemorate King Bhumibol’s 6th Cycle (= 72nd) Birthday in 1999. It is now one of the significant landmarks in Chinatown. People are sometimes queuing up to absorb the power of heaven and earth on the spot under the arch.

For taxi: วงเวียนโอเดียน

Wat Traimit

Wat Traimit (The Golden Buddha)

This temple is well known for its 3-metre tall, 5.5 tonne solid gold Buddha image, cast over 700 years ago during the Sukhothai period. Originally the gold image was covered with plaster to conceal it from the invading Burmese and was just rediscovered accidentally about 40 years ago.

For taxi: วัดไตรมิตร วงเวียนโอเดียน เยาวราช

Wat Mangkon

Wat Mangkon

Featuring the most outstanding Chinese Buddhist architecture in Thailand, the temple houses a great number of Chinese Supreme Being statues to be worshipped. Each day the temple is crowded with both local Thai-Chinese and overseas Chinese who bring offerings to their devoted divinities.

For taxi: วัดมังกรกมลาวาส ถนนเจริญกรุง

Sala Chaloemkrung Royal Theatre

Sala Chaloemkrung Royal Theatre

Apart from being Southeast Asia’s first air-conditioned cinema, Sala Chalermkrung, has been serving as a national venue for staging breathtaking performances and exhibitions to maintain the authenticity of Thai arts and culture for more than 70 years. And now it is proud to present Thailand’s exquisite masked dance drama to foreign visitors with on screen subtitles.

For taxi: ศาลาเฉลิมกรุง ถนนเจริญกรุง

Photo : www.salachalermkrung.com

Da Feng Zu Shrine

Da Feng Zu Shrine (Po Tek Tueng Foundation)

The shrine is located opposite Phlapphlachai Police Station. Throughout the year Thais of Chinese descents throng here to worship the deity, to make merits and to get rid of their bad fortune by donating money to buy coffins and arrange cremations for unidentified corpses.

For taxi: มูลนิธิปอเต็กตึ๊ง (ศาลเจ้าไต้ฮงกง) ตรงข้าม สน. พลับพลาไชย

Photo : www.pohtecktung.org/100year/?p=25

Hua Lumphong Railway Station

Hua Lumphong (Bangkok Railway Station)

Built before WWI in an Italian renaissance style, this is the main railway station in Bangkok and a terminus of the Eastern & Orient Express which runs from Singapore through Malaysia to Thailand. The station is now conveniently connected to MRT Subway by an underground passage.

For taxi: สถานีรถไฟหัวลำโพง

Shopping

Sampheng

Sampheng Lane (Soi Wanit 1)

Sampheng Lane or Soi Wanit runs parallel on the south of Yaowarat Rd. This pedestrian street is the commercial centre distributing clothes, toys, gift shop’s goods, souvenirs and all other products countrywide.

For taxi: สำเพ็ง

Phahurat

Little India (Phahurat)

Little Indian town is located around the intersection of Phahurat Rd. and Chakkaphet Rd. It is the best place to buy fabrics and clothes as they have incredibly large selections of merchandises and prices are bargainable. Original Indian food, ingredients and household utensils are sold at the deep end of the blocks.

For taxi: พาหุรัด

Photo : en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phahurat

The Old Siam Shopping Plaza

The Old Siam Shopping Plaza

The Old Siam Shopping Plaza is the old Bangkok style shopping centre purveying Thai goods and souvenirs. In addition, there are sections devoted to jewellery shops, gun dealers and restaurants.

For taxi: ดิโอลด์สยามพลาซ่า

Photo : www.theoldsiam.co.th

Pak Khlong Tarat

The Flower Market (Pak Khlong Talat)

A one perfect stop for every florist is here. Visitors can also select their favourite bouquets and flower baskets from this market. It is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week with the best array of flowers at wholesale prices, but the best time is probably in the morning. Apart from flowers, this large market features a wide variety of vegetables and fruits as well.

For taxi: ปากคลองตลาด

Old Market

The old market has all kinds of dried seafood, fresh fruits and other Chinese cooking ingredients. Pushcarts selling ready-to-eat meals line up at the entrance in the evening. Walking down to the south, the old market is connected to Sampheng Lane or Wanit 1 Rd. where you can shop for toys, souvenirs and all kinds of festival stuff.

For taxi: ตลาดเก่า ถนนเยาวราช

 

New Market (Leng Buai Yia)

This so-called new market (actually 90 years old) has large selections of ingredients needed for cooking, including fresh seafood, vegetables, fruits, ready-to-eat food and gods’ sacrifices for various festivals. During the weekends or Chinese festivals, the market is very crowded.

For taxi: ตลาดใหม่เล่งบ้วยเอี้ย ซอยเจริญกรุง 18

 

Ban Mo

Whether you are looking for quality jewellery or electronic equipment, Ban Mo Rd. is the recommended place since this busy small road is lined with jewellery stores and shops selling electronic and audio devices.

For taxi: ถ. บ้านหม้อ

 

Woeng Nakhon Kasem Market

Formerly known as the Thieves Market, this is a big retail and wholesale market of machines, auto parts and musical instruments. Thai and Chinese antiques and second hand goods can be purchased as well.

For taxi: เวิ้งนาครเกษม

 

Eating

Chinatown is the best place to dine out. The area is famous for shark fin soup, bird’s nest soup, fresh seafood, roasted duck and pork, Chinese desserts, dim sum, noodles, etc. Food is available days and nights whether on the Chinese style banquet table of pricey restaurants or at the pushcarts along the roads and in many of its small alleys. During the vegetarian festival, it is harder to find normal food in the area other than veggie dishes. If you would like to try Indian food, Phahurat has many good native restaurants at reasonable prices.

Nightlife

Night-time activity in Chinatown is limited to dining.

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