Bounded by Silom in the east and Rattanakosin in the north-west, Yaowarat is Bangkok Chinatown and Little India, although it’s probably fair to say the Indian community has as big a stake in the area these days as the Chinese.
Some travellers compare this area to Hong Kong, especially at night when Yaowarat Road is ablaze with Chinese neon signs and the streets come alive with market stalls and delicious street foods. It’s also said that Yaowarat is the oldest district of Bangkok, since the Chinese moved in here in the 1780s when the capital was first moved from Ayutthaya to Bangkok.
It can be hard to find your way into Bangkok Chinatown, or even to be sure you’ve actually found the right place when you do arrive there especially in daylight – because it doesn’t really look like any Chinatown I’ve been to before. And once you’re in Yaowarat it’s ridiculously easy to find that you’ve wandered out again as there are precious few street signs visible among all the paraphernalia hung up and erected by traders to draw in their customers.
The suburb is a rat maze of small cluttered alleys and busy side streets full of shop houses. Then at about 5PM the whole place just packs up and goes home (except Yaowarat Road, which goes crazy with places to eat).
The markets in Bangkok Chinatown are not aimed so much at tourists as they are at the locals, especially the Chinese, with many specialist gold traders, silk traders, Chinese herbalists, Indian bridal boutiques and tailor shops.
There are also lots of small eateries (the Chinese do love their food), the best of which can be found in Soi Phadung Dao (off Yaowarat Road). The Chinese shops tend to be mostly along Yaowarat Road and off into the side streets, whereas the Indian shops are more along Prahurat Road and Chakphet Road near the Memorial Bridge.
The easiest way in is by BTS Skytrain or MRT to Hualamphong central railway station, which is at the eastern edge of Yaowarat. From there it’s about a 20 minute walk to the west up Rama IV Road, left down Mit Phan Road and then first right into Yaowarat Road. Alternatively, jump on the Chao Phraya River Express Boat and get off at Rachawongse pier, walking up Rachawongse Road for about 300-400 metres to Yaowarat Road. You can also get off at Memorial Bridge pier if you prefer and walk up through the Indian quarter.
Places to see in and around Bangkok Chinatown
- (1) Chinatown Odeon Gate (marks the entrance to Chinatown) – Yaowarat Road near Chareon Krung Road.
- (2) Wat Traimit (Temple of the Golden Buddha) – Traimit Road, 9am-5pm
- (3) Yaowarat Chinatown Heritage Centre (second floor above Wat Traimit) – Traimit Road.
- (4) Soi Texas, famous for fresh seafood
- (5) Wat Mangkorn Kamalawat (Leng Nei Yee) – a Mahayana Buddhist temple – Charoen Krung Road between Thanon Mangkorn and Soi Issaranuphap
- (6) Trok Itsaranuphap, gateway to the Chinese Wet Markets
- (7) Little India, where you can experience the tastes, sights and smells of India
- (8) Sampeng Lane (real Chinese market) – Soi Wanit 1.
Places to eat and drink in Bangkok Chinatown
- T&K Seafood – Yaowarat Road at the Phadung Dao intersection
- R&L Seafood – Yaowarat Road at the Phadung Dao intersection
- Cafe Cafe (great fruit juices) – lobby of Grand China Princess Hotel on Yaowarat Road
- New Man Chai (seafood restaurant) – Yaowarat Road near Sampaeng Lane
- Leng Buai La Shrine (famous Dim Sum) – Charoen Krung 16.
Places to stay near Chinatown Bangkok
- Shanghai Mansion Boutique Hotel is a 4-star hotel on Yaowarat Road that’s like something out of Shanghai in the 1920s. with rooms starting from around USD$75 per night including breakfast.
- Centra Central Station Hotel is a 4-star hotel on Traimit Road with a dim sum restaurant and a huge breakfast buffet. Nice rooms starting from USD$50 per night but some have no windows.
Traveller’s review of Bangkok Chinatown
A traveller’s review of Bangkok’s Chinatown and Little India district, especially the great street food.