China Town, Bangkok
Shop until you drop in China Town. This colourful section of the city is the perfect place to browse for bargains while doing a spot of sightseeing. Chinatown is a popular shopping district for people who are looking for great deals on items like wholesale shoes, Thai silk, toys and souvenirs and people who are able to barter hard will find some real bargains here. China Town is also one of the best places in Bangkok to sample authentic Chinese food and as day turns into night dozens of street side stalls spring up serving up a wide range of cheap and tasty treats.
A Brief History
China Town is known as Yaowarat in Thai and is one of Thailand’s oldest Chinese communities. The area was established in the early part of the 18th century when large groups of peasants from the Chaozhou region of China moved to Bangkok in search of work. Although these migrants originally settled in the Rattanakosin area, they were forced to move when King Rama I established the Grand Palace in that part of the city in 1782. The current Chinese neighbourhood takes its name from Yaowarat Road and for the following two hundred years it became the main centre of commerce in Bangkok. the area was also famous for its opium dens, gambling houses and brothels. The official business centre was moved to Charoen Krung Road in 1891 and although the area is still home to one of the largest and most vibrant markets in Asia, these days gambling, drug use and prostitution have been outlawed in Thailand and the area features a more family friendly atmosphere and a number of high end hotels and restaurants.
What to See
Yaowarat Road runs through the heart of Chinatown and this long road is lined with stalls selling packs of goods as well as a number of small shops. Also nearby is Sampaeng Lane, which is a tiny network of tiny stalls where wholesale merchants ply their wares. Although Sampaeng Lane can be rather crowded on the weekends and in the evening, people who venture along here during the week will be greeted by the site of one of Bangkok’s oldest neighbourhoods where treasures lie around every twist and turn. The colourfully named Thieves Market opens every evening at the western end of Sampeng Lane. The stalls here specialise in antiques as well as second-hand goods and this is a good place to shop for cheap cameras, torches and other used items.
Tips for First Time Visitors
Shoppers will soon notice that many of the items for sale in Chinatown do not have a fixed price marked on them. This is because bartering is all part of the fun of shopping in Chinatown. While it may take a little longer to reach the final price, people who have the time and patience to engage in bartering can scoop up some great deals. However, the merchants here can be very persistent, so do not start bartering unless you are serious about buying something.
Area of Bangkok
China Town covers the Yaowarat and Phahurat districts.