Thailand Country Guide

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Yaowarat & Phahurat (Bangkok) Tour

Afternoon Tour
Plaeng Nam Road has an authentic Chinatown atmosphere with old Chinese shops. Cross Charoen Krung Road to Phlap Phla Chai Road and you will see the Li Thi Miew Temple with several shrines on the left and the roof shows two dragons playing with a pearl. In the compound next to the main temple building, you will encounter a large shrine dedicated to the goddess Guan Yin.

 
 
 
 
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Then walk to Trok Issaranuphap, which is sometimes called Charoen Krung Soi 16. This part of Trok Issaranuphap is the most authentic part, as not a lot of tourists head here. It is a covered walkway with Chinese salesmen selling a plethora of things. When you get to Charoen Krung Road, take a right and another quick right to Wat Mangkon Kamalawat. This is lively temple often patronised by the local Chinese who leave offerings at the altars. Right after the second gateway are four statues of sages holding respectively a parasol, a pagoda, a snake's head and a mandolin.

The market along Trok Issaranuphap continues south of Charoen Krung Road, where it is known as Talat Mai or the New Market (actually more than one hundred years old). The market is a packed dark alleyway and a typical Chinese food market selling ginseng roots, fish heads, chocolate cookies and other foodstuffs. Walk around and browse through the market and you may find something interesting. Even if you're not buying, the bustling atmosphere and exotic products make visiting this market a sensual experience.

At the left is the Leng Buai Ia Shrine, the oldest Chinese shrine in Thailand. This claim is based on a plaque inside the shrine with a Chinese inscription mentioning the shrine was built in 1658. This corresponds to the Ayutthaya period and before Bangkok became the capital of Thailand. The shrine is housed in a traditionally Chinese architectural style-building

If hungry, the market at Trok Issaranuphap is excellent for getting some cheap meals. Just take a seat at one of the numerous street restaurants or food carts. When done eating, cross Yaowarat Road. Continue south and take a right into Sampeng Lane, sometimes called Soi Wanit 1. This lane is the oldest part of Chinatown and used to be a notorious place with gambling houses, opium dens and brothels. Now it is a market selling mostly tacky goods such as cheap toys, ceramics, jewellery and accessories.

Sampeng Lane by Globe-trotter

If you just wanted to see Chinatown by day or already tired, you can walk south along Rachawongse Road to the river and take the Chao Phraya Express Boat home. It's better to continue walking as there is still a lot to see. When you reach the end of Sampeng Lane, the ethnic make-up changes from Chinese to Indian. Take a left to Chakphet Road and you will find India Emporium on the other side of the road. It's a modern mall with many stores selling fabrics and accessories. Nearby is see the huge Guru Tawan Sikh Temple with its golden dome and the second-largest Sikh temple outside of India. You can visit the temple but must take off your shoes and cover your head with a cloth.

For an authentic experience, go to the Phahurat Textile Market located in the backstreets behind India Emporium (south of Phahurat Road). It is a labyrinth of narrow lanes filled with cheap fabrics sellers. It feels cramped, and you might bump into someone but that's just part of the fun. Around the fabrics market are plenty of other small markets as well. Browsing is not as rewarding here as in Chinatown, unless you're interested in Bollywood movies or Punjab sweets.

Textiles in Phahurat by Globe-trotter

If you have time left, you can walk north to the Old Siam Plaza, a European colonial-style shopping mall selling diverse products like branded and second-hand clothing, gadgets, electronics, handicrafts and gold futures. You might want to buy some of the excellent local sweets and desserts from the first floor. Surrounding the mall are several gun shops.

 
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