Bangkok’s Chinatown is reported to be one of the largest Chinese communities outside of Mainland China. On any day of the week, just wandering through the bustling, vibrant, aromatic and colourful streets of Chinatown is an amazing experience.
“This afternoon we are on Yaowarat Road that runs through the heart of Bangkok’s Chinatown. Daily life in this area appears hectic, but for the hundreds and thousands of local shopkeepers and street vendors, this is just another normal working day in Bangkok.”
Wit – tour guide at Follow Me Bangkok Bicycle Tours
Bangkok’s Chinatown, which is known as Yaowarat, covers a large area around Yaowarat Road and Charoen Krung Road in one of the oldest areas of Bangkok.
When King Rama I relocated the capital to Rattanakosin Island, on the more strategic eastern bank of the river, the Chinese traders that were settled there were relocated to the Yaowarat Road area. Here they quickly established the main centre for trading by the Chinese community in Bangkok.
The Chinese belief that the shape of Yaowarat Road resembles the curving body of a dragon with its head at the Chinese-style gate on the Odeon Circle at the beginning of Yaowarat Road. Consequently, it is believed to be in an auspicious location that is good for business, today the land in this area is amongst the most expensive in Bangkok and is mostly owned by wealthy Thai-Chines families.
Within a short walk along Yaowarat Road, the unique and captivating atmosphere becomes instantly apparent. Set within the backdrop of busy traffic and neon signs, you will pass by numerous gold shops that have been at the center of gold trading in Bangkok for a couple of centuries. The Chinese restaurants and traditional Chinese medicine stores, the vast array of aromatic street food vendors, and the colourful market stalls all set the scene.
The maze of small crowded lanes and alleys are a fantastic place to explore whilst soaking in the daily life. Lined with historic shop houses, where small local industries thrive, the lanes are filled with busy wholesale markets where you can find just about anything.
Chinatown is well known by food lovers and is home to Bangkok’s best Chinese restaurants, many of which specialise in Chinese delicacies! After sunset the street-side restaurants spill out onto the pavements and the area is transformed into a lively food feast that attracts visitors and locals from miles around.
If you are planning a trip to Bangkok, visiting Chinatown should definitely be on your list of things to do, and if you are lucky enough to visit during the Chinese New Year you will experience the area at its very best.
You can easily spend more than a day, and night, exploring Chinatown and discovering the diversity of local life and sampling the street food. If your time is limited, why not just get a taste of Chinatown on one of our amazing Bangkok city bicycle tours like Siam Boran or Siam Chiva, or try our new walking tour Siam Sabai. If you would like to experience Chinatown at night and enjoy a fantastic street food dinner you can join our Siam Ratree tour.
You may also like to watch our video Discovering Bangkok – The influence of the early traders that explores more about the Chinese immigrants in Bangkok.