Many people think they have seen everything in Bangkok, this is far from true if they have not explored nearly every alley in Bangkok’s Chinatown , which is without a doubt the most diverse section Bangkok. The district is actually called Yaowarat, which is a couple of kilometers across from end to end. Bangkok’s Chinatown is not some tacky tourist ghetto limited to traditional Chinese products. It’s actually the center of the textile and gold trade in Bangkok and strangely enough is where you can get the cheapest good quality imported fruit in Thailand.
Yaowarat is completely off the tourist map for most people, and that is also true for the majority of ex-pat residents in Bangkok as well. The good thing about that is that you are not exposed as much to the scammers and touts which prey on the tourists, the area is also not prone to Thailand famous double pricing standards where foreigners are exploited. Apart from bizarre, the weird and wonderful gizmos, gadgets and dried dead animals that you’ll come across you will also be exposed to cuisine that is simply divine.
|Cucumbers on a rickshaw in Bangkok|
The best transport to go and explore Bangkok’s Chinatown is dependent on the time of day and which day of the week you wish to check it out. To put it simply, you can be immersing yourself in to some of the worst of Bangkok’s famous traffic jams. It really can be a nightmare to be honest. If you want to go during the morning or afternoon rush hours then just forget it if you are traveling via road ie taxi, bus or car. I’m yet to find a taxi driver willing to accept a fare during this time of day anyway, the mid- morning and early afternoon should be fine by taxi and I’ve done it many times without an issue.
When the traffic is busy, I recommend to go via the Bangkok subway system, commonly known as the MRT. It should be noted that the MRT connects up with the elevated BTS Skytrain at several common stations in Bangkok, so if you are near a Skytrain station it is easy to get to Yaowarat via these interchange stations. The station you want to get off the MRT is Hualumpong Station, this is only about 15 minutes by foot to where you are immersed in Chinatown.
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An industry that tend to stand out in this area, one are traditional Chinese medicine practitioners that blend together all kind of weird and wonderful magic potions of animal parts and herbs. The raw ingredients and kept on shelves in glass jars Depending on what your ailment is or what you complain of, they will go and mix everything up, smash it and blend it together and give it to you in a powdered form for you to mix with water before you go to bed.
|In the above photo there are bowls or fresh raw red and green Thai curry that is sold by weight. There is also shredded ginger, mushrooms and small bottles of Chinese Herbal remedies.|
This suburb is still the genuine ‘real McCoy’ and has not been affected one little bit by tourism and the Western culture, with the exception of a couple of fast food giants who have outlets scattered. Many people have told me that they feel uncomfortable and almost claustrophobic as there is not one square foot of space that is being wasted, if someone can stand there and sell something, they will be there doing it. Chinese festivals can also be overwhelmingly intense in Bangkok’s Chinatown, for many people this is part of the attraction and why people make the special effort to go there though.