Located along the Yaowarat Road, Chinatown is a Chinese cultural and commercial hub. It is majorly known for its exotic culinary experience of street foods, along with several Buddhist temples, and traditional wooden shops selling Chinese goods. It is best to visit Chinatown at night, which is when it is vibrant with neon lights and chaotic fun.
The Bangkok Chinatown is the largest in the world, and is a haven for tourists to explore the best of Chinese tradition and culture. Retaining an authentic, old-world charm, the market stretches along Yaowarat Road and each little alley and side road is filled with shops displaying everything from mouth watering delicacies to clothing, accessories and other traditional trinkets. The colorful, bustling aura of the market is hard to resist and the Bangkok Chinatown has remained a favorite of the people over the centuries.
Chinatown Bangkok Food
Chinatown has a delicious array of choice restaurants and street stalls serving a veritable mix of Chinese cuisine - including seafood, different types of local meat and dessert. The following are a list of some of the best places to sample the food of Chinatown
1. Eia Sae - One of Thailand's Oldest Coffee Shops
One of the oldest coffee shops in Thailand, the Eia Sae is an authentic, traditionally decked up establishment, frequented by both old and young alike. It is the perfect place to relax, smoke a few cigarettes over some strong Thai coffee and soak up the local vibe.
2. Plaeng Nam Shark Fin-Bird's Nest - Explore Some Unusual Cuisine
This is one of the best places to experiment with one of the more daring, local delicacies. In addition to its special shark fins and bird's nest in coconut gravy, there are also other interesting options like omelettes stuffed with crab and oysters.
3. Jok Kitchen - Treat Yourself to a Daily Culinary Surprise
Despite being known as a hidden restaurant, due to its slightly obscure location, the Jok Kitchen is always booked weeks in advance. Able to accomodate only around 16 guests at a time, the restaurant does not have a menu - it's the chef's mystery surprise that awaits every customer in this little eatery! A popular favorite among the people, the restaurant is known for serving many Thai and Chinese concoctions like abalone slices in Wasabi sauce, shrimp dumplings, and even goose feet and noodles!
4. Local Dessert Carts
The street stalls of Bangkok's Chinatown have an exciting mix of dessert options available to satisfy your sweet tooth, and they are nothing like the deserts we normally see. There are sticky rice balls with coconut cream, gingko nuts, Chao Kuai or black jelly, and some shaved ice with multi colored toppings called Tao Tung Yen.
5. Mung Korn Khao Noodles
This little shop is famous for its mouthwatering egg noodles, with toppings like prawns, minced pork and other meat. The wanton mee with crab meat is also a popular favorite among the large crowds gathered outside this joint.
6. Cotton Restaurant - Fine-Dining in Chinatown
Chinatown also has options for a fine-dining experience, and the Cotton Restaurant at Shanghai Mansion Hotel is a great choice. Established in the 1930s, this beautifully decked up hotel boasts an impressive menu including - squid noodles, crab claw and sea cucumber Schezwan soup. The restaurant also serves good wine and cocktails.
The Lek & Rut Seafood stall is located in Chinatown at the bustling intersection of Yaowarat Road, and is thronged by the crowd for its hugely popular seafood dishes. Fried black crab, pork and bacon stuffed scallops, and other fresh fish tossed with local herbs and spices are some of the good options to try at this street shop.
Chinatown Bangkok Market
The bustling markets in Chinatown have many varieties of goods for sale. Shop for gold at one of the many gold shops in Yaowarat Road including Siam Gold Gallery, Tong Bai and Hua Seng Heng. Stop at Talat Kao for some fresh fruits and other produce, and also some local herbs and spices.The Thieves Market, has moved on from showcasing smuggled goods to display a variety of second hand and cheap electronic items. Little India or Phahurat Market on the other hand, has a veritable collection of Indian items on sale including DVDs of Bollywood movies and a variety of Indian textiles, silks and fabrics. Street shops also serve some piping hot Indian curries.
The Sampeng Lane Market is another shopper's favorite in Chinatown, and one can find almost everything here at a bargain price - ranging from clothes, accessories and appliances to souvenirs and local trinkets. Chinatown also has some malls worth checking out like the Nightingale Olympic and the Old Siam Plaza.
Sightseeing in Chinatown Bangkok
In addition to being famous for shopping and eating, Chinatown also has many cultural delights frequented by the crowd. The following are a list of some of the fun things to check out in, and around Chinatown
1. Temple of Bangkok
At the far end of Yaowarat Road lies the Wat Traimit, which houses the largest seated golden Buddha statue, weighing over five tons. Another popular temple here is the Wat Mangkon Kamalawat, Bangkok's largest Buddhist temple, and the home to many wonderful celebrations and festivities, especially during the Chinese New Year.
2. Romaneenart Park
With its neoclassical buildings, large green expanses, fountains and air of quiet solitude, Romaneenart Park is a quiet haven away from the bustling crowds on the streets of Chinatown. People often go to the park to relax, and have a quick jog.
3. Sala Chalermkrung Khon Theatre Bangkok
Established in the early 1900s, the Sala Chalermkrung Khon Theatre in Chinatown is widely popular and a must visit experience. It hosts a variety of incredible shows and traditional Thai performances. With extravagant costumes, local music, and old-world stage settings, the shows mainly revolve around telling tales from the epic Ramayana.
Chinatown Bangkok Nightlife
Chinatown is known for its lively nightlife, and has many bars and restaurants to spend an enjoyable night. Some of the popular haunts include the Cotton Jazz Bar, with its lovely traditional Chinese decorations and live music and the hip Teens of Thailand Bar, serving delicious gin cocktails. Another fun bar to check out is the Spanish themed El Chiringuito, where you can enjoy some tapas, chorizo pizzas and sangrias. If partying is not your thing, you could always browse through the Chinatown Night Market, finding yourself an amazing bargain and some delicious food.
How to Reach Chinatown Bangkok
There are different modes of transport options to reach Chinatown. One option is to take the underground MRT to Hua Lamphong station and take a short walk from there to the market, or use a tuk-tuk or a local taxi. Another option if you wish to avoid traffic is to take the Chao Phraya River Express boat and get down at Ratchawong Pier, which is very close to Chinatown. After reaching Chinatown, the best way to cover the market is by foot.
Tips on Visiting Chinatown Bangkok
Make sure to carry plenty of small change in Chinatown, which will come in handy at street stalls and local shops. Carrying huge denomination Thai currency is not advisable as it is very difficult to get change.
Although most of the street food restaurants are safe to eat at, it is always good to take precautions and avoid that bout of food poisoning on your holiday. Pick crowded restaurants, make sure your meat is properly cooked and eat them as fresh as possible!
While visiting temples, be modestly clothed and cover your shoulders, and clothes that are below the knee in length.
Chinatown is known for bargain prices, so remember that as a tourist shop owners might tend to take advantage of your ignorance and try to rip you off. Patiently and determinedly bargain, and you will get your money's worth!
It is no wonder that the Chinatown in Bangkok attracts a large crowd - along with its endless choices of food, shopping and entertainment, it also offers a glimpse into the colorful and vibrant Chinese culture. Over the many, many years since its establishment it continues to inhabit and special place in the hearts of both locals and foreigners alike.