A Walk in Chinatown Bangkok – Things to see in Bangkok’s Chinatown

Temple Bangkok Chinatown

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.

Chinatown Bangkok Street

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.

Market Bangkok Chinatown

Food Bangkok Chinatown

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.

Market Bangkok Chinatown Chinatown Bangkok

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.

It does seem like such a waste though! I am lucky enough to have such an interesting neighbourhood so close, but too lazy to get out there and explore it in-depth. Zebra Bangkok

Temples, Tuk Tuks and Chinatown

Apologies for the delay in the blog update, we’ve been busy and we are currently without Internet in the Helipad flat.
We had the best day so far on Saturday. It was nice to not be sick or stressed about finding a flat. I was very keen to visit a temple (Dan was less keen, he thinks he has seen enough Wats to last a lifetime) so we headed to Wat Pho, also known as the Temple of the Reclining Buddha.
Determined to save money we took the metro to the end of the line and hunted for a taxi. We were outside the station for about a millisecond before a driver accosted us, offering to take us to the temple for 120 baht. We kept saying meter, meter, but he wasn’t having any of it. I was convinced we could get it for cheaper on the meter, Dan was convinced it would cost the same. Being the stubborn girl that I am I made him race across lanes of fast traffic in the hot hot heat of the midday sun looking for a cheaper option. I also bet a Pepsi that we would get a better price on the meter. We did!
The temple was suitably impressive for a first timer. It is the oldest in Bangkok and is split into two walled compounds. The decoration is amazing, mirrors and ornaments, and each courtyard was lined with Buddha statues in gold and black. Right in the centre was the Phra Ubosot, the holiest prayer room, with a Buddha on top of the gold mountain, and scenes of religious stories (I am inventing this I have NO idea what the scenes were but you can check out the pictures and let me know if you know!).
We walked around, I  marvelled and Dan tried to stay enthusiastic. The last room we entered contained the famous Reclining Buddha. He is forty-six metres long and fifteen metres high, decorated with gold plating on his body and mother of pearl on his eyes and the soles of his feet, and you can’t really get a good picture because there are lots of other tourists in the way, as well as some columns. You can see my picture attempts below.

Buddha Toe

By this point Dan was bored and very hungry, so we decided to get some lunch in Chinatown, and get a Tuk Tuk there. The Tuk Tuk wasn’t that much fun. Traffic in Bangkok is very smelly, and being stuck in a small slow moving vehicle at exhaust height in 30+ degree heat is not our idea of a good time, but it was definitely an experience!

 We chose a reference based on Nancy Chandler’s map (or as Dan calls it the Nancy Drew map!) It’s hand drawn maps of the most popular areas in Bangkok with restaurants and shops marked. It isn’t the easiest thing to read, but it is good to have recommendations about where to eat and buy things, such as coffins (see photo below of coffin shop) and Chinese Ink. We went to a dim sum restaurant and had the best spring rolls EVER and some interesting prawn things. Still not loving the prawns though!
Chinatown is amazing, it’s so busy and full of food stalls. And I didn’t want to disappoint my little brother, so I took some pictures:

 On Sunday we went back to Chatuchak market for coconut ice cream and plates for the new flat. This visit was more stressful, perhaps because when you need to find things at Chatuchak you can’t! We now own some of the cheapest plates and fork and spoons around. No knives, as the Thais don’t use knives to eat, everything is perfectly bite size. Knives were expensive so we only have two, and they match nothing! So if you’re coming to stay bring your own knives!