The Chinatown district of Bangkok is situated south of Dusit and Banglamphu and is probably one of the oldest areas of Bangkok.
Most visitors to the capital invariably visit this place for its confluence of old Thailand and the emergence of the new.
One of the oft-visited roads in this district is the Yaowarat road, which also leads to tourist destinations such as Wat Traimit – Temple of the Golden Buddha.
Those frequenting this place can sample plenty of gold shops; a seemingly infinite number of small shops, stalls and vendors; and Thai and Chinese delicacies in the numerous restaurants found here.
Gold shops and exquisite Chinese dining
Chinatown is a great place for shopping. Visitors are greeted by many small alleys stuffed with thousands of shops and vendors selling anything from electric goods, souvenirs, baby-guns and weapons, imported musical instruments, second-hand parts and equipment, computer parts, antiques, textiles and anything else you can think of.
The busy Yaowarat road is also full of gold shops with intricate Thai and Chinese designs. You will find plenty of shops, brightly lit up, with good variety and reasonable prices.
For those who want to get a taste of exquisite oriental cuisine, Chinatown is just the place to be.
Yaowarat Road has plenty of famous restaurants where you can get a host of delicacies like shark fin soup, dim sum, birds-nest soup, among other Chinese food.
You might also try out some odd knick-knacks like Chinese herbal medicine, dried mushrooms, salted fish, roast and Chinese calendars.
Every year, Yaowarat Road is witness to the Chinese New Year festivities like lion dances and food fairs too.
A member of the royal family graces the occasion to the joy and pride of the Yaowarat community.
Most tourists enjoy this ritual and time their visits here around this time of the year.
History of Chinatown in Bangkok
A visit to Chinatown will leave you doused in a bit of Thai history; in fact it is this very thought that makes the place a more interesting one.
Set in one of the oldest sectors of Bangkok, the district has grown by leaps and bounds though retaining much of its old flavor.
It is believed that Chinatown was brought about by Chinese traders who came to Thailand for business during the 1780s when Bangkok was founded.
Since the beginning of the Rattanakosin period, Chinatown has been dwelling of Chinese-Thai people when they moved from their old residence to make way for the Grand Palace.
When the city of Bangkok was established, King Rama I had these people relocated to the area around Wat Sam Pleum and Wat Sampeng.
The area later became a major business center of the Chinese community, covering an area around Yaowarat, Chareon Krung, Bamrung Meung and Feung Nakhon roads.
It was King Rama V under whom the Yaowarat Road, the predominantly center of Chinatown, is said to have been built.
Historians say the road is shaped like the body of a dragon, said to be auspicious. It is no wonder that traders choose to do their business from here.