Amongst the alleys, shops and temples of Chinatown, you never know what you’re going to find. It’s a great place to get lost with your camera!
When visiting a city for the first time, I often like to find the Chinatown district. I find the color, culture and chaos of the market areas fascinating and always a great place to shoot some photos and get a good bowl of noodles.
Bangkok’s Chinatown district does not disappoint. The district is located just southwest of central Bangkok, where the Chinese community relocated from Rattanakosin in the 1700s after King Rama I decided to establish the Thai capital on the site of the village of Bangkok.
The Chinese community in Bangkok, descendants of early traders, have lived in Thailand for generations, and generally consider themselves as Thais. However, they do still carry on their own religious practices and traditions.
The entrance to Chinatown is marked by large ornate Chinese gate at Odeon Circle. The district follows Yaowarat Road up to the Ong Ang Canal. Chinatown is home to several Chinese temples, including Wat Traimit which houses the world’s largest solid gold Buddha image.
Also to be found here are the expected vast host of Chinese-Thai market stalls, shops and other businesses. Chinatown is well known for its high concentration of gold shops, many of which can be found along Yaowarat Road. On either side of the main road are alleyways full of stalls selling almost anything from jewelry to dried fish to computer software.
The best way to explore Bangkok’s Chinatown is on foot. Most of the alleyways and lanes are too narrow for cars or anything besides the occasional Vespa scooter.
Besides the temples and shops full of people and goods, many examples of the architecture of Bangkok’s early years can be found along the side streets of Chinatown. One of the most well known is the Tang To Gung gold shop on Sampaeng Lane around Mangkon Road.
The sites are great and the hustle and bustle of the atmosphere can be energizing. One never knows what will be around the next corner or down the next narrow market lane. I suggest going without an agenda, just grab a camera or two and some film and go wander around until you get lost, then find where the adventure takes you!