In the past, famine was forcing many people to migrate to Southeast Asia from southern China, and Thailand was a seemingly popular destination for these Chinese immigrants. They originally settled near where the Grand Palace is today. However, these immigrants were forced to move to Sampheng when the Grand Palace was built, and thus trade began to grow between the two countries. Every single day, more and more Chinese junk boats were bringing goods to Thailand and it was because of these boats that the Wat Yannawa, or the Boat Temple, was built during the Ayutthaya Era. The main road weaving through Bangkok’s Chinatown is Yaowarat Road, built in 1891. This 1.5-kilometer road is often referred to being dragon-like, weaving in and out of Chinatown’s historical neighborhood.
If you love seafood, then Chinatown is the place to be in Bangkok. Head to the famous Yaowarat Road after dark to find some of the best eats in the city. If you are not sure where to begin, just follow the crowd. If you see a herd of Thais eating at a certain stall, it is most likely because of the amazing food. Fai-Kaew Yao Wa-Rat is one seafood stall that draws in some of Bangkok’s biggest crowds. There are numerous dishes to choose from, including stir-fried crab and sweet and sour shrimp. The cook is a crowd pleaser, shooting flames high into the air while diners look on.
Chinatown is also well-known for its strange yet appetizing desserts. Two of our favorite desserts are the sesame dumplings with ginger tea and the bread rolls packed full with chocolate. These warm rolls are grilled to perfection before being filled with your choice of filling.
Wat Traimit and Wat Mangkon Kamalawat are two temples found in Chinatown. Wat Traimit, also known as the Temple of the Golden Buddha, houses the world’s largest gold statue. This statue is on the fourth floor of the temple, surrounded by beautiful Thai architecture. Wat Mangkon Kamalawat is Bangkok’s largest Chinese-Buddhist temple, with roots that go all the back to 1872.
Wat Mangkon Kamalawat, +66 02 222 3975.
If you are looking for a great view, then you have come to the right neighborhood. There are many bars, restaurants and hotels that offer great views of the Chao Phraya River and more. One of these bars is the Sky View 360° Restaurant, located on the top floor of the Grand China Hotel. The restaurant has live music every evening that compliments its panoramic view of the city and river. River View Guest House also has an amazing view of the river that customers can enjoy from its River Vibe Restaurant and Bar. We also suggest checking out El Chiringuito, a Spanish-inspired bar that serves up sangria, Spanish tapas and more.
El Chiringuito, 221 Soi Nana, Charoen Krung Road, Bangkok, Thailand, + 66 086 340 4791.
Chinatown receives most of its fame for its mouthwatering street food and renowned temples. In addition, there are also a handful of museums and exhibitions you can visit while exploring this part of town. The Yaowarat Chinatown Heritage Center has loads of information on how and why Chinese immigrants came to Bangkok and also has history on the Chinatown in Bangkok. The museum is found on the second floor of the Phra Maha Mondop, on the grounds of Wat Traimit, which houses the Golden Buddha. You can also visit the Phra Buddha Maha Suwanna Patimakorn Exhibition, also located in the same structure as the Golden Buddha.
How To Get There
Chinatown is not a compact neighborhood. Be sure to look into where it is you are going before heading to the historical neighborhood. That being said, the best way to get to the heart of Chinatown is to take the MRT subway to the Hua Lamphong stop. Take exit one and you will be a short walk from Wat Traimit. You will also be a short taxi ride from the other must-see destinations in Bangkok’s Chinatown.
By Kelly Iverson