The city of Bangkok has so much going for it as a tourist destination that it is no wonder it is often cited as the most popular city in the world. The numbers don’t lie, as they say, and for the past couple of years Thailand’s capital has indeed ranked as the most visited city on earth.
This is no doubt due to all the attractions which the city has to offer. Visitors really have an enormous choice of activities which in Bangkok. There are the gorgeous temples, which are certainly must-sees. There are vast shopping malls, satisfying to any shopaholic of whatever level addiction! And this includes the great night markets of the city. Others comb the city looking for the best street food in Bangkok. And of course there are the clubs, pubs and discos — all the vast range of thrilling nightlife experiences which Bangkok is also famous for.
Beyond this, there is something else very special which the capital of Thailand has in store for visitors. We are talking about what is in some ways a city within the city. An enclave within the vast metropolis of Bangkok. This, of course, would be Bangkok Chinatown, which is centered around busy Yaowarat Road right in the center of this sprawling capital.
Bangkok Chinatown, known locally as Yaowarat, is like a force of its own to be reckoned with in the universe of tourist destinations. It is hands down one of the busiest neighborhoods in Bangkok, almost mind bogglingly so. And at the same time it is also certainly one of the most exciting neighborhoods, famous for many things. Yaowarat, the Chinatown of Bangkok, is a truly thrilling as well as intriguing area of the city for shopping as well as for eating. It is also a place for fantastic celebrations if you can catch Chinese New Year in Bangkok. Either way, it is quite true that this is the place in Thailand that is known for the best street food in Bangkok — and that is really saying a lot! Such a fascinating variety of shops and mouth-watering street food stalls line the streets in this place that you are bound to spend some of your money here and be very glad you did.
And did you know? Yaowarat is also the biggest Chinatown in the world! When you are ready to do some real exploring into the heart of Bangkok, this is the place to do it. But make sure are prepared. It is going to get hot out on those busy and crowded streets, and you are going to be far away from the air-conditioned comforts of the gleaming shopping malls or even the plush furnishings of VIE Hotel Bangkok. But on the other hand, this is going to be an adventure you and your partner or your group will remember always, and an experience of something new.
So put on some comfy walking shoes, grab a bottle of water out of the minibar fridge and set your destination for Yaowarat Road and the famous Bangkok Chinatown … And get ready for a journey through history as much as in the present!
Not only is Yaowarat the biggest Chinatown in the world, it is also one of the oldest neighborhoods in Thailand’s capital city. It was formed around 200 years ago. In those days, which is known in Thai history as the Rattanakosin Era, Siam and China traded extensively via the Chao Phraya River and across the open sea, so there were a great number of Chinese merchants and traders who came to settle in the newly established capital of the Thai people.
At that time, the Thai kingdom’s capital was moved by King Rama I from the west bank of the Chao Phraya River the more defensible and strategically wiser east bank of the river. Chinese traders had previously settled where the present site of Wat Phra Kaew, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, which is inside the grounds of the walled Grand Palace, stands today. However, when that was to be built, the Chinese traders moved southward along the river.
A great many Chinese then settled in the area that has now become known as Bangkok Chinatown. By the end of the 19th century, King Rama V had ordered the building of a more extensive infrastructure of roads, beyond merely Yaowarat Road, connecting this part of the city with the other parts and Yaowarat began to flourish even more as it also became more incorporated into Siam proper.
Of course, extremely interesting to gourmands as well as historians of Thailand, the biggest Chinatown in the world also developed a strong reputation within Thailand as the place to find the best street food in Bangkok! To put it simply, this section of the city is a foodie heaven. You are going to find so many mouth-watering delicacies it will make you hungry again remembering it years later. Bangkok is already famous for its street food. But the dishes you will find here are supreme in taste and culinary finesse.
The right combination of ingredients and flavors will send your taste buds into ecstasy. From the typical Pad Thai to the quintessential Yaowarat dish Hoy Thod (mussels fried in a batter with egg, bean sprouts and other ingredients making a delicious kind of wet pancake), nothing beats the street book in Bangkok Chinatown. A good reminder is that you will probably encounter even more places to eat in the evenings. Yes, even more!
And just remember, each of these food stalls has quite likely supported the family for generations!
Now you can’t spend all your time in Yaowarat just eating, even if you would like to. Though of course you can have plenty of snacks and meals while you are sight-seeing and shopping there as well. Yaowarat is a world of its own, blending its Chinese roots and heritage with Thai style in an inimitable way.
Some of the most popular spots for spending some memorable time in Yaowarat include perhaps first getting a photo of the huge Chinatown gate. As you come from the city up to Yaowarat Road there stands a large traffic circle with a gigantic red Chinese arched gate. It is quite a sight and worth a shot or a selfie!
It is up along Yaowarat Road itself that you will find a great many shops, including the spectacular gold shops which are unlike anything seen in Western cities, which their gorgeous draping exquisitely crafted golden chains. However, Sampang Lane is also intriguing. This narrow lane was the old main street of Bangkok Chinatown and all the clothing, jewelry, food and everything else is literally an arm’s reach to each side of you. Wat Tramit is also worth a visit as it houses the largest solid gold Buddha image in the world. Of course, Chinatown at night is even more exciting than it is in the day.
Chinese New Year in Bangkok is best spent in Yaowarat if at all possible. You will have the Dragon Dance and parades and firecrackers and everything else that makes it special. Why not book your tickets for Thailand specifically to catch Chinese New Year in Bangkok and spend it in Yaowarat?
That’s not difficult to do if you are staying at VIE Hotel Bangkok. The BTS Skytrain station just outside the hotel will connect you to the MRT subway. From the subway’s Hualumphong station it is a short walk to the fantastically hectic world of Yaowarat. Of course getting from VIE Hotel Bangkok to the city’s Chinatown can also be done by taxi, going up Song Wat Road once you get there. Either way, this is a lively neighborhood and you will be delighted you decided to explore it.