Bangkok’s Chinatown, known to locals by the name of its wide and long main street – Yaowarat – is always enthralling, all the colorful day and night time action is just a 15-minute taxi ride from Prince Palace Hotel.
Besides being the biggest Chinese community, Chinese herbal medicine center, and largest gold market in Thailand, Yaowarat street food stalls, food shops and restaurants serving up generally excellent Chinese and Thai-Chinese specialty dishes, are magnets for locals and tourists alike.
One of the most authentic and least changed spots in Bangkok, its many tiny lanes and narrow alleyways are ripe for exploration.
A deep dive starts at the informative Yaowarat Chinatown Heritage Centre, followed up by checking out the majestic golden sitting Buddha statue at Wat Traimit, Chinatown’s number one attraction. After all, you haven’t done Chinatown Yaowarat if you haven’t seen the world’s largest gold statue – some 5.5 tons worth around $250m!
From here, make your way along Yaowarat Road grazing on fresh fruits and roasted chestnuts. Other must-sees here include the exuberantly colorful shrine of Guan Yin, the pilgrim filled Wat Mangkon Kamalawat, Bangkok’s most important Chinese temple, the hidden villa of Sou Heng Tai, and colorful street art murals inside the atmospheric alleys.
Another of Chinatowns most colorful attractions is the shrine to Guan Yin Goddess of Mercy which includes a 900-year-old statue of the deity. But with its mix of Buddhist, Taoist, and Confucian deities, Wat Mangkon Kamalawat is the most revered temple in Chinatown Yaowarat.
More intriguing sights await at Sampeng Lane (Soi Wanit 1) market, a narrow alleyway running parallel to Yaowarat Road divided into sections for jewelry, shoes, and watches at one end, ceramic toys, lanterns, and a mish-mash of Chinese goods in the middle, and silks and other fabrics at the opposite end.
Bright neon lights, red Chinese lanterns, and huge crowds give Yaowarat an electric night time atmosphere. Many of the hundreds of food stalls and restaurants specialize in freshly prepared seafood but the menu options here are extensive and eclectic.
Some prime picks to whet your appetite: skewers of grilled entrails, squids and sausages; sour, sweet and chewy fish maw & shark fin soup; sweet pork leg khao kha moo; clay pot rice with abalone, chicken, razor clams and pork spare ribs; pork and shrimp Japanese gyoza; lots of noodles including kuay jab for something Thai, Sichuan noodles with wonton for something Chinese, and noodles with crab and red pork for something out of this world; Thai favorite pad Thai (say no more!); grilled chicken satay with brown peanut sauce; patongo doughnuts with soy milk; hot and yummy roasted chestnuts; the king of roasted duck – Peking Duck; siu mai steamed bun dim sum; grilled giant prawns and squids alongside salt grilled fish and crab in black pepper; fresh chives dumpling; soft and super savory turnip cake; Chinese kao lao pork soup, and; sweet treats, from toasted buns to bird’s nest, to name but a few!
There’s so much to see and experience in Bangkok’s world class Chinatown all around Yaowarat, it’s definitely handy to be able to go and come back to the Prince Palace Hotel and go again later. You may well find you can’t get enough of it all.