Asia, Bangkok, Thailand

Experience Bangkok Chinatown through 30 Photos

June 1, 2015
Bangkok Chinatown - Flags

Experience Bangkok Chinatown through 30 Photos.

The Thai capital is many things all at once. Crowded, beautiful, humid, strange, bustling, colourful and complex.

As a first-time visitor to Asia (never mind Bangkok), I found myself absolutely fascinated by everything I saw as it was so different from any other place I’ve ever travelled. I couldn’t stop staring at my surroundings, wanting to taste the food, talk to people, and come to understand their way of life.

Very much like my home city of Berlin, Bangkok is truly a place where you could wander for days on end and still barely scratch the surface of all there is to experience.

Bangkok Chinatown

After exploring the chilled-out and laid-back Thonburi district in Bangkok, our group set off to walk through the chaotic and frenzied Bangkok Chinatown.

This very happening one kilometer strip attracts massive throngs of people each day and is pretty much always busy. As you walk through the narrow streets and tiny alleyways, you’ll find yourself hard pressed not to bump into other people.

Settled in the 1780s by Chinese merchants (actually predating the founding of the capital), Bangkok Chinatown now retains a large Chinese population who continue to practise their cultural traditions. The area is even said to be shaped like a dragon!

In my opinion, Bangkok Chinatown is best experienced on an empty stomach and a cash-filled wallet! Stuffed with Chinese temples, food stalls, gold merchants, restaurants, wooden shop houses and streetside beauty ‘salons’ (seriously), Chinatown is a place you can easily spend hours shopping and feasting on all that delicious food.

To give you a better idea of what it’s like to experience this area for yourself, I thought I’d show you versus tell you through these 30 photos of Bangkok Chinatown.

The Big Streets

Bangkok Chinatown’s wide streets are jam-packed with cars, tuk-tuks, motorcycles and pedestrians. It actually reminded me of Times Square in New York but on a way more intense level. I know that I’d personally never drive through these streets and was even scared at first to walk across the streets.

Bangkok Chinatown - Hectic Moment

Bangkok Chinatown - Streets

Bangkok Chinatown - Tuk Tuk and Motorcycle

Bangkok Chinatown - Main Road

The Narrow Alleyways

This is when things started to get more interesting from a “fresh food” perspective. Yes, I am allll about the food, and when in Thailand, how can you not be? There were vendors selling everything you can imagine. I was already hungry and our tour had just begun.

Bangkok Chinatown - Side Street

Bangkok Chinatown - Busy Street Vendors

The Markets

As crowded as it can get in the tiny space available, people were still riding their motorcycles through.

Bangkok Chinatown - Narrow Alleys

Bangkok Chinatown - Chinese New Year

Bangkok Chinatown - Flowers

The Food Stands

The food in Chinatown is out of this world. From fruits to vegetables, to fish and meat, there isn’t a Thai or Chinese specialty that you can’t find. There are even drinks in bags to go (apparently a thing in Asia in place of takeout cups).

The smells wafting through the air will lead you from one stand to another, and you’ll feel overwhelmed trying to figure out which dish you want to try first.

Even if you’re not hungry, it’s fascinating to simply walk through the markets, people-watch, and gaze at all that’s on offer. This was by far the highlight of Chinatown for me.

Bangkok Fresh Chicken for Sale

Bangkok - Chickens

Bangkok - Fish Stand

Bangkok - Street Side Food

Bangkok - Fresh Fruit

Bangkok - Ladies Chatting

Bangkok - Food Store

Bangkok - Shop Stalls

Bangkok - Fruit and Vegetables

Bangkok - Coke to Go

The Streetside Businesses

Yes, you can receive beauty treatments at streetside “salons,” like this man receiving a facial and having some threading done to remove unwanted facial hairs. Also to be found were men, rather cutely, sleeping on the job.

Bangkok Chinatown - Street Side Beauty Treatment Eyebrow Threading

Bangkok Chinatown - Nap Time Street Side

Bangkok Chinatown - Sleeping Vendor

The Chinese Temples

Dotted throughout Bangkok Chinatown are many temples.

One of my personal favourite highlights of Chinatown is Wat Traimit, a temple which boasts the largest golden statue in the entire world! Fast facts about this monster-sized Buddha statue – it’s covered in 18 karat gold and is worth about $250 million US. It also weighs 5,500 kilograms and stands 3 metres tall.

I liked this quiet area outside of one temple, especially the beverage cart.

Bangkok Chinatown - Peace Outside a Temple

Bangkok Chinatown - Drink Cart

The Quiet Back Streets

During the late afternoon, these back streets were serene and beautiful, especially in the late-afternoon light.

Bangkok Chinatown - Golden Hour

Bangkok Chinatown - Back Alley

Bangkok Chinatown - Broken Old Car

Bangkok Chinatown - Red Laterns

Bangkok Chinatown - Flags

Good to Know

  1. Chinatown is most easily reached by boat. Check out Bangkok for Visitors for more details.
  2. Once there, I’d recommend covering Chinatown by foot as it’s really the only way to get a deep and immersive experience of the area. Better yet, do a self-guided walking tour like the folks over at Y Travel Blog did or follow this one recommended by National Geographic.
  3. Some feel that Chinatown is best experienced at night. Bangkok Chinatown is simply a place that can be enjoyed anytime. 
  4. As I mentioned above, come on an empty stomach and be ready to fill your belly!
  5. If you’re looking for something different, perhaps a “softer and slower” side of Bangkok, head over to the Thonburi District.

Location

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Bangkok Chinatown
* Disclosure – My tour of Bangkok Chinatown was complimentary, courtesy of TBEX and the Tourism Authority of Thailand. Any opinions expressed about my love of food markets and street side beauty treatments are entirely my own.

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16 Comments

  • Reply Noel June 1, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    Wow, that really takes me back to the sites and smells of Chinatown, great job Cheryl!

    • Reply Cheryl Howard June 1, 2015 at 3:51 pm

      Thanks Noel! It took me a reallllly long time to sort through and edit the photos. Happy with the final result though. 🙂

  • Reply Dayami Gomez June 1, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    Stunning colors in these photos! I’m going to be there in November, can’t wait to check out some of these areas.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard June 1, 2015 at 4:24 pm

      Thanks so much Dayami! Really hope you enjoy your time in Thailand. <3

  • Reply Paige Conner Totaro June 1, 2015 at 4:43 pm

    Great post, Cheryl! You captured the feel of the streets so well in these photos.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard June 1, 2015 at 5:10 pm

      Thank you Paige! Can’t wait to go back and experience more of Bangkok someday. 🙂

  • Reply Cristina ✈ (@travelingjourno) June 1, 2015 at 8:45 pm

    I loved the character in Bangkok. Those people sleeping is hilarious!

    • Reply Cheryl Howard June 2, 2015 at 6:03 am

      Me too! I loved the sleeping people as well, but the street side beauty treatments were my favourite. 🙂

  • Reply Jenn Flo Taylor June 7, 2015 at 5:12 am

    I have so many fond memories of Bangkok’s Chinatown, and your photos really took me back there! I can’t wait to return Thanks for sharing them! Cheers, Jenn

    • Reply Cheryl Howard June 7, 2015 at 12:09 pm

      Thanks Jenn. Did you enjoy some of the yummy food there? 🙂

  • Reply Wayne Seto June 7, 2015 at 5:23 pm

    Great post! I love Bangkok Chinatown; I’ve had some of the best seafood there. I may have to return for a visit, the next time I’m in Bangkok again.

    • Reply Cheryl Howard June 7, 2015 at 5:33 pm

      Thanks Wayne! I want to go back there and eat myself. 🙂

  • Reply Muza-chan June 9, 2015 at 1:55 am

    Love it… so colorful…

  • Reply Mary @ Green Global Travel June 11, 2015 at 10:38 pm

    Looks like Bangkok is a lot to take in! Thanks for the visual insight 🙂

    • Reply Cheryl Howard June 15, 2015 at 8:16 am

      Hey Mary! It definitely overwhelms the senses but in a good way. 🙂

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