You may get lost whilst in Bangkok’s Chinatown, but you’ll never have any doubt about where you are.
The rows of shophouses sell coffins and traditional medicine side by side (are they trying to tell you something?), restaurants display glistening cooked ducks on hooks in the window and scarlet paper lanterns sway in the breeze above your head.
Every tourist who visits Bangkok wants to check out Chinatown, the chance to visit two countries in one. Despite its riot of colours and smells, I find it a frustrating place to visit. There are plenty of gems to see here of course, but they are scattered, hidden down small alleyways or up a flight of suspicious looking stairs.
If you are looking for a great map of Chinatown, I recommend Nancy Chandler, whose beautiful hand sketched creations bring the best of Bangkok to your fingertips.
Armed with this, you can track down the temple crocodile pond, negotiate your way down Sampang Lane dodging motorbikes and men with carts filled with fresh rambutans and try out some of the tastiest Dim Sum at a local restaurant that last looks like it was renovated in 1973.
For the latest updates check out nancychandler.net – the map is only released every few years, but the team keep their eyes open and their ears to the ground. If you stumble across something awesome, you can be pretty sure that Nancy has been there first.
Shopping is a little hit and miss in Chinatown. I love the traditional tea sets that are sold by the dozen and picking up some roasted chestnuts from the carts that line Yarrowat Road. Unsurprisingly it’s also a great place to buy fake goods, direct from the factories in China.
If you are in the market for some gold bling, Bangkok’s Chinatown is considered one of the top spots in the world to pick up high quality precious metal. Many of the ornate pieces that you will see on display are destined to make up the dowry at traditional Thai and Chinese weddings.
I tend not to visit Chinatown very often, unless I am with visitors. In the past few weeks I have been there twice, but until the underground extension opens in 2016 it isn’t particularly easy to get to, and whether I take a taxi, boat or train it often takes an hour and half to get there from my house.