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Courtesy of The Reading Room
Courtesy of The Reading Room
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10 Must-Visit Bookstores in Bangkok, Thailand

Picture of Leslie Finlay
Updated: 27 February 2018
In 2013, Bangkok took on the title of UNESCO’s World Book Capital, awarded to cities for the presence of a vibrant literary culture accessible to widely varied demographics, interests, ages, and philosophies. The rise of independent bookstores buoyed this title, breaking the chain-store model by specialising in sourcing rare and antique books mixed in with collections of contemporary titles. These are the most distinctive shops flocked to by book lovers of all kinds.
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Dasa Book Café

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Courtesy of Dasa Book Cafe

“Book lovers are slaves to print.” This is the slogan of Dasa Books – which itself translates to “slave” – and its concept echoes through its multi-level collection. The quirky shop houses more than 22,000 books, carefully organised in a thrice-weekly updated “Dasa-Base” that lists the books in stock by category, author, title, and price. The owners seek out rare and unusual finds, as well as storied favourites, treating visitors to hours of browsing and thumbing through pages in a number of languages, with the help of very friendly staff.

Dasa Books – 714/4 Sukhumvit Rd, Khwaeng Khlong Tan, Khet Khlong Toei, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10110

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Zombie Books

Right in the middle of one of Bangkok’s biggest nightlife hotspots is the late-night book café, Zombie Books. The owner, a published author himself, carefully curates the books on the shelves, from older novels to recent bestsellers. The upstairs floor also operates as a co-working space, gallery, and café.

Zombie Books – 21/118 9, Khwaeng Bang Kapi, Khet Huai Khwang, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10310

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Open House Bookshop by Hardcover

The Bangkok Art and Culture Centre’s flagship bookshop now has another location in Central Embassy called Open House. Keeping with Hardcover’s foundation, Open House specialises in books relating to the visual and performing arts, design, fashion, cooking, travel, and culture. It also boasts an impressive collection of rare and out-of-print finds. The entire operation of the store – from the décor to workshops hosted – echoes its founding philosophy of celebrating print culture.

Open House Bookshop by Hardcover – Central Embassy, Level 6 1031 Ploen Chit Road 10330 Bangkok, Thailand

Passport Bookshop

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Passport Bookshop

Passport Bookshop is one of the very first independent bookstores in Thailand and specialises in travel-orientated books about Southeast Asia. This tiny paradise for bookworms is tight-knit, with a wide selection of colourful volumes on the shelves. With a cup of coffee or tea in hand, travellers can spot passionate book lovers wandering along the aisles in search of their next direction. The soothing and cosy atmosphere invites lounging and lingering and makes for a perfect place for an afternoon break in Bangkok.

Passport Bookshop – 523 Phra Sumain Road, Boworn Niwet Subdistrict, Phra Nakhon District., Bangkok, Thailand, +66 629 0694

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Chatuchak Market

The world’s largest market, home to more than 8,000 stalls over 35 acres, has a staggering amount and variety of books ranging from every genre and style imaginable. Shoppers can find brand-new titles from popular authors mixed in with rare finds that are decades old – and all for such incredibly cheap prices, bargaining is hardly necessary. While browsing the massive selection may not be for the faint of heart, stall owners are frequently aware of where titles are, and can direct you appropriately.

Chatuchak Market – 587/10 Kamphaeng Phet 2 Rd, Khwaeng Chatuchak, Khet Chatuchak, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10900

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Siam Rare Books & Collectibles

This specialty store celebrates all things Siam and Southeast Asia. Operated by a knowledgeable and welcoming dealer, entering Siam Rare Books & Collectibles is like gaining a rare insight into Thai history. Authentic antique opium weights bookend rare books, old maps and prints, with collections of antique trade cards and traditional Khon masks on display as well.

Siam Rare Books & Collectibles – 151 Kamphaeng Phet 2 Rd, Khwaeng Chatuchak, Khet Chatuchak, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10900

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Candide

This wooden house is an oasis situated in the midst of the bustling city. Named after Voltaire’s classic, this one’s owner – Duangruethai Esanasatang – has long had a passion for every aspect of literature: writing; editing; translation. What’s more, the combination of hardwood chairs, glass tables and deep leather sofas makes for a peaceful environment for readers to indulge in.

Candide Books and Cafe – 207 Tanow Road Bawornniwet Subdistrict Phra Nakhon District, Bangkok, Thailand

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Neilson Hays Library

Housed in a white, antique and European-style building amidst pleasant bushy gardens, this library offers one of the widest collections of English titles in Bangkok. Literary lovers will be excited by the impressive range of contemporary novels and the amazing array of magazines and newspapers. The library is adjoined to a glass house where the relaxing Garden Café and Gallery are located, offering quality coffee and holding inspiring exhibitions to boot.

Neilson Hays Library – 195 Surawong Road, Bang Rak, Bangkok, Thailand.

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The Reading Room

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A non-profit contemporary art resource centre, The Reading Room is a modern, chic concept library housing a collection of art and culture books from all over the world. While not for sale, the lounge has more than 1,000 titles for book lovers to peruse and enjoy, ranging from a contemporary Thai art archive to art history and theory books, exhibition catalogs, art magazines, and more. The space also hosts regular events, talks, screenings, and workshops for Bangkok’s illustrious creative crowd.

The Reading Room – 19 Si Lom, Khwaeng Silom, Khet Bang Rak, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10500

The Book Fairies Bangkok

While not a physical store, The Book Fairies is an international movement that gained traction in Bangkok in 2017. It’s like being a part of the world’s largest book club, with some geocaching elements thrown into the mix. Participants leave copies of books in public places for other literary lovers to discover, like BTS stations, cafes, or tucked away in parks and plazas. Once lucky readers finish their find, they pass it along through the city. Get started by checking out their Facebook page to see where the latest treasures are hidden!

This article was originally written by Wingyan Chan and has since been updated.