Yaowarat and Phahurat (Thai: เยาวราชและพาหุรัด) is Bangkok's multicultural district, located west of Silom and southeast of Rattanakosin. Yaowarat Road is the home of Bangkok's sizable Chinese community, while those of Indian ethnicity have congregated around Phahurat Road. By day, Yaowarat doesn't look that much different from any other part of Bangkok, though the neighbourhood feels like a big street market and there are some hidden gems waiting to be explored. But at night, the neon signs blazing with Chinese characters are turned on and crowds from the restaurants spill out onto the streets, turning the area into a miniature Hong Kong (minus the skyscrapers). Phahurat is an excellent place for buying fabrics, accessories and religious paraphernalia. A visit to the area is not complete without having some of its amazing delicacies that sell for an absolute bargain — such as bird's nest or some Indian curries.
Compared to the rest of the city, this district is fairly compact and can best be explored in a full-day (and night) walking tour. You'll come across street markets, shop houses, gold shops, beautiful remnants of colonial-style architecture and some interesting temples. Instead of tramping from temple to temple, this neighbourhood is mostly about catching a brief peek into commercial Bangkok as it has been the last two centuries. Rushing through won't be rewarding—take your time instead, sitting at a plastic chair and watching local traders sell their wares. As the street markets are not targeted to foreigners, you will find a wide array of products: ceramics, fabrics, gold, tacky teenager ware, ant-killer chalk, Bollywood movies, ginseng roots. Who knows what you'll end up with at the end of the day. It is best to come during weekdays, as many stores close during the weekends. Also keep in mind that most shops close at 17:00 after which most of the area gets pretty much deserted (Yaowarat Road being a noteworthy exception).
Orientation in Yaowarat is even trickier than elsewhere in Bangkok. The area is filled with narrow alleys and obscure pedestrian-only routes, and is crossed by a few giant roads that feel like small highways. Finding your way around isn't made easy as road signs are blocked by the bulk of neon-signs and other merchandise that sellers hang up to attract customers. The perfect map for the district still has to be created, so adapt to the situation and expect to get lost often. Also take note that alleys often bear the name trok instead of the usual soi, and that many have multiple names attached to them. For example, Trok Issaranuphap is often signposted as Soi Issaranuphap or as Soi 16, while Soi Phadung Dao is also known as Soi Texas.
Yaowarat is centred, as could be expected, around Yaowarat Road, a big road bursting with neon signs. North of it is Charoen Krung Road, which is also one of Bangkok's major traffic arteries. Running parallel to the south of Yaowarat Road is Sampeng Lane, which is also known as Soi Wanit 1, a narrow pedestrian-only lane with many small department stores. Crossing these three streets is the pedestrian-only Trok Issaranuphap, another interesting lane for shopping and having small snacks. Another small lane crossing Yaowarat Road is Soi Phadung Dao, and that's the place to go when you're about to get hungry.
Phahurat is centred around Phahurat Road, which starts immediately west of Sampeng Lane. It is crossed by Chakphet Road and Tri Phet Road, both major roads that have to cope with the immense traffic coming from the Memorial Bridge.
Yaowarat is one of the oldest Chinese communities in Thailand. The story of the Chinese in Bangkok starts in the late 1700s, when poor peasants from China's Chaozhou region (in Eastern Guangdong) moved to the Grand Palace area in Rattanakosin. They came to Siam to find work in Thonburi at the other side of the Chao Phraya River (which at that time was the capital of the country). The Chinese were requested to move outside the city walls when King Rama I set up his new capital in the Grand Palace area in 1782.
The new Chinese neighbourhood, nowadays named after Yaowarat Road, became Bangkok's main centre of commerce for the following two centuries. Formerly impoverished peasants worked their way up to become the backbone of trade in Siam. It also became known as a seedy area thriving on brothels, gambling houses and opium dens, though these activities are illegal nowadays and no longer to be found in the district. The business centre of the district moved from Sampeng Lane to Yaowarat Road and Charoen Krung Road in 1891, when those roads were built by a decree of King Rama V.
A few years later a fire broke out, which opened the way for the construction of Phahurat Road in 1898. King Rama V named it after his daughter Phahurat Maneemai, in remembrance of her early death at the age of ten. The area used to be an enclave of Vietnamese immigrants, who had lived here since the reign of King Taksin in the late eighteenth century. Construction of the road made way for the Indian community to move in and since then, this neighbourhood evolved its own South Asian character that persists today.
As Thailand became one of Asia's emerging economies, the commercial core moved from Yaowarat and Phahurat to the Siam Square area. However, this multicultural district still shows what commercial Bangkok has been like for almost two decades.
Due to its location at the Chao Phraya River, most visitors enter Yaowarat and Phahurat using the Chao Phraya Express Boat service. A single trip from Rattanakosin or Silom takes about 20 minutes and costs around 18 baht. The most important stops are the Rachawongse and Si Phraya piers, both of which are served by all lines. Rachawongse is an ideal stop for central Yaowarat, while Si Phraya is close to the southeastern part of the district. Phahurat can best be reached using the Memorial Bridge pier (saphan phut), which is only attended by no-flag and orange flag lines. Other piers that could be useful are Rachini and Marine Department, both of which are only served by no-flag lines.
If you're coming from Thonburi, you can cross the river by taking a ferry. There is a ferry service from Kanlayanamit to Pak Khlong Talat, from Dindaeng to Rachawongse and from Klongsan to Si Phraya. Ferries leave about every 15 minutes for just 3 baht.
Yaowarat and Phahurat can directly be reached by metro if you are coming from Silom, Sukhumvit or Ratchadaphisek. The only station close to the district is Hua Lamphong at the eastern side. The metro ride from Silom takes about five minutes, while the ride from Sukhumvit takes about ten minutes. Trains leave every five to ten minutes for a fare of about 16 to 41 baht. From the metro station, it is a 20 minute walk to the centre of Yaowarat.
The bus system in Bangkok is complex, but it is actually one of the cheapest ways to travel around the city. Many lines run through the district, but let's start with a warning: as Yaowarat Road is a one-way road, bus lines only use it in westwards direction (to Rattanakosin). Buses going east use Charoen Krung Road instead!
Ordinary and air-conditioned bus 25 is the most important bus route. It starts in the far southeast of Sukhumvit Road, then follows that road northwest before heading through Ratchaprasong intersection (for Siam Square), Ratchadamri Road, Silom intersection, Rama IV Road, Hualamphong Train Station and then runs right through Yaowarat Road and Phahurat Road. This route can also be taken from the other direction, then it comes from Tha Chang pier (near the Grand Palace in Rattanakosin) and takes Charoen Krung Road instead of Yaowarat Road.
From Khao San Road, catch ordinary (circular) bus 56 which runs along Tanao Road at the eastern tip of Khao San Road and then goes south through Maha Chai Road and Chakphet Road (get off after the Merry King department store for Phahurat Road and Sampeng Lane; don't miss it, as it will cross the bridge to Thonburi right after). Ordinary bus 4 comes from Silom intersection along Rama IV Road and passes Hualamphong Train Station through Yaowarat Road and then goes southwest over the Phra Pok Klao bridge to Thonburi (as with all routes, in eastwards direction Yaowarat Road is skipped in favour of Charoen Krung Road).
Yaowarat and Phahurat can easily be reached from Hualamphong Train Station, which is located at the eastern border of the district. Trains come in and go to many destinations in Thailand, including Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi, Chiang Mai and Southern Thailand.
Sights abound around Yaowarat and Phahurat, but if you're looking for "must-sees", you might want to visit Rattanakosin first. While enjoying a relaxed walk through this district, you should at least incorporatea visit to Wat Mangkon Kamalawat and Wat Traimit. Other sights could be considered optional or more interesting for adventurous travellers.
Guru Tawan Sikh Temple (คุรุดวาราศรีคุรุสิงห์สภา Gurudwara Siri Guru Singh Sabha), 565 Chakphet Rd (next to the India Emporium mall, south of the Pahurat Rd and Chakphet Rd intersection), ☎ +66 2 221-1011, . 10:00-18:00 daily. Established in 1932, this Sikh temple is the most iconic landmark of Phahurat. It is a white six-storey building with a large golden dome on top, and is the second-largest Sikh temple outside India. This temple is very important for daily life as most Indians in this neighbourhood are Sikhs. It is possible for non-Sikhs to enter, but they need to take off their shoes and cover their head with an orange cloth. The Sikh community gathers in large numbers on Sundays and during religious festivals. They serve free Indian vegetarian food in the community kitchen on these occasions.Free. edit
Wat Chai Chana Songkhram (วัดชัยชนะสงคราม, literally War Victory Temple), 83 Chakrawat Rd (walk 150 metres north along Chakrawat Road from Yaowarat Road), ☎ +66 2 221-4310, . This third class Royal Temple dates from 1848, the reign of King Rama III. The temple was the project of chief commander Chao Phraya Bodindecha, who lead Siam to victory in the wars against Vietnam and Cambodia. He designated his house and the surrounding land as a site for a new temple, which he called the War Victory Temple as a commemoration to his victories. It is a relatively large temple complex with an enshrined Buddha inside the main building.Free. edit
Crocodile at Wat Chakrawat
Wat Chakrawat (วัดจักรวรรดิราชาวาสวรมหาวิหาร), Chakrawat Rd (south of Sampeng Lane, between Chakrawat Rd and Maha Chak Rd, can enter the compound using a small alley from Maha Chak Rd). The temple itself actually is rather small, though it does have some interesting features. To the right as you walk through the gate is a small viharn. Its outer wall is decorated in a remarkable black and gold pattern, which is unusual, as usually these decorations are found on interior walls. Most travellers like to visit this place for its serene atmosphere with crocodiles, birds, dogs, birds and relaxed monks. Crocodiles have been living in the small pond beside the temple for about fifty years. At that time, a crocodile that was found in the Chao Phraya River was brought to this temple for the safety of Bangkok's citizens. This original crocodile can still be viewed in the glass case above the pond.Free. edit
Wat Ga Buang Kim, Soi Krai (southwest of the Sampeng Lane and Rachawongse Rd intersection. take the small alleys from Anawong Rd or Rachawongse Rd). Definitely off the tourist trail, this more or less deserted temple shows how local residents practise their religion. The most interesting room is the wonderfully ornamented Boonsamakan Vegetarian Hall, which is home to miniature gold characters reappearing several times in different moods and positions. Around the doorway, at the top of the stairs, you can find finely crafted ceramic figurines drawn from Chinese opera stories. Chinese opera performances are occasionally held at the other building in the temple compound.Free. edit
Wat Kanikapon (วัดกณิการ์ผล, also known as Wat Mae Lao Feng), Trok Issaranuphap (at the intersection of Trok Issaranuphap and Phlap Phla Chai Rd). A short walk from the much-visited Wat Mangkon Kamalawat is Wat Kanikapon, built in the late nineteenth century. Certainly off the beaten path, if it is known by travellers, then it is because of the fact that the temple was founded by a brothel owner. The dark green tiles decorate that the window frames bear resemblance to the green curtains used in the brothels that once thrived in Yaowarat (in Thailand, green was used to designate brothels in a similar way as red was used to designate brothels in the West). Next to the ubosot in a smaller viharn housing a Western-looking Buddha image.Free. edit
Wat Mangkon Kamalawat (วัดมังกรกมลาวาส Dragon Flower Temple or วัดเล่งเน่ยยี่ Wat Leng Noei Yi), Charoen Krung Rd (at the intersection of Charoen Krung Rd and Trok Issaranuphap. take the small passageway from Charoen Krung Rd), ☎ +66 2 222-3975. 06:00-17:00 daily. On the list of every Yaowarat visitor, you will be amazed by the impressive multi-tiered gateway when you enter the temple. It is a Mahayana Buddhist temple, the school of Buddhism that most Chinese follow, and it has mixed with other Chinese practices like Confucianism and Taoism. It is in Southern Chinese style built in 1871. There are plenty of statues and shrines inside, most interesting is the part right after the second entrance. Four golden statues will greet you, each with a symbolic object: a parasol, a pagoda, a snake's head and a mandolin. It is one of Chinatown's liveliest temples with many Thai-Chinese praying and burning incense.Free. edit
Wat Pathum Khongkha (วัดปทุมคงคา, also known as Wat Sampeng), Song Wat Rd (between Sampeng Lane and Soi Wanit 2). 07:00-18:00 daily. Previously known as Wat Sampeng, this ancient monastery was founded in the Ayutthaya period. It has been renovated during the reign of King Rama I by a rich Thai citizen, who gave the temple the current name. The main Buddhist image in the temple is in the subduing mara posture. The doors and windows are exquisitely decorated in with lacquered ornamentation in gold leaf patterns. Behind the temple is the Execution Stone, where King Rama III ordered the execution of Krommaluang Rak Ronnaret for planning a rebellion against him. The canal in front of the temple is a holy site as the ash of cremated members of the royal family and the royal elephants are scattered here. The temple has recently been completely restored, making the golden Buddha images look shinier than ever.Free. edit
Wat Ratchaburana (วัดราชบูรณะหรือวัดเลียบ, also known as Wat Liap), Tri Phet Rd (at the Tri Phet Rd and Chakrawat Rd intersection), ☎ +66 2 225-1595. 06:00-18:00 daily. This temple is located at the foot of the Rama I Memorial Bridge on the Bangkok side. Built in the late Ayutthaya period by a Chinese merchant, it is otherwise known as Wat Liap and is one of the 3 principal temples of the capital which include Wat Ratchaburana, Wat Ratchapradit and Wat Mahathat. It had been regularly restored since the reign of King Rama I through to the reign of King Rama VII, except in the sixth reign. Some of the temple's principal buildings, especially Phra Ubosot – the ordination hall – which houses mural paintings by Khrua In Khong, were badly damaged by bombing during World War II. The buildings were later restored to their good condition as they appear today.Free. edit
Wat Samphanthawong (วัดสัมพันธวงศารามวรวิหาร), Song Sawat Rd (north of the intersection between Song Sawat Rd and Sampeng Lane). In the Ayutthaya period this temple bare the name "Wat Ko", which means Island Temple, as it was surrounded by a canal that was directly in contact with the Chao Phraya River. King Rama I turned it into a royal temple in 1796. King Rama IV gave the temple its current name after Prince Samphanthawong. Inside is a statue of Mara, with rows of golden Buddhas at the back.Free. edit
Wat Traimit (วัดไตรมิตรวิทยารามวรวิหาร Temple of the Golden Buddha), Tri Mit Rd (MRT Hua Lamphong, east of the Odeon Circle), ☎ +66 2 225-9775. 08:00-17:00 daily. This temple is one of the highlights of Yaowarat, but is actually not part of China's cultural heritage. It houses the Phra Phuttha Maha Suwan Patimakon (พระพุทธมหาสุวรรณปฏิมากร), the world's largest solid-gold Buddha image, which originates from the Sukhothai period. It is over three metres tall and weighs five and a half tonnes, with an interesting history. The image was only rediscovered about 50 years ago when it dropped from a crane while being moved. This cracked the plaster exterior that was (as it's said) applied to hide the image from the invading Burmese army. There is an impressive white structure with a golden spire next to the temple, that reaches higher than many other buildings in the district.20 baht. edit
Leng Buai Ia Shrine (ศาลเจ้าเล่งบ๊วยเอี๊ยะ), Trok Issaranuphap (south of Charoen Krung Rd, north of Yaowarat Rd). This shrine, housed in a traditionally Chinese architectural style-building is considered to be the oldest Chinese shrine in Thailand. This claim is based on the plaque inside with a Chinese inscription that states that the shrine was built in 1658. That year corresponds to the Ayutthaya period, far before Bangkok became the capital of the country. During all these years, Chinese businessmen in the area came to the shrine for refuge and to improve the prosperity of their businesses. The roof is made of glazed coloured tiles with two ceramic-clad dragons on top. The two main columns beside the entrance also both feature a ceramic-clad dragon. Inside there is a shrine dedicated to Leng Buai Ia and his wife in the centre, a shrine dedicated to the deity Going-Wu on the left and a shrine dedicated to the Queen of Heaven on the right.edit
Kwong Siew Foundation (มูลนิธิกว๋องสิว), 5/3-5/5 Charoen Krung Rd, ☎ +66 2 226-5704. As with the other foundations and medical centres in the area, this charity also has an impressive shrine known as the Guang Dong Shrine (ปูชนียสถานมณฑลกวางตุ้ง). This 130-year old shrine was built in a traditional Chinese architectural style and used to be a meeting place of overseas Chinese from the Guangdong region in China. It has been built mostly with construction materials and Buddha images from their homeland.edit
Li Thi Miew Shrine (ศาลเจ้าหลีตี่เบี้ยว), 494 Plap Phla Chai Rd (close to Wat Kanikapon), ☎ +66 2 221-6985. One of the larger and more open Chinese shrines in Bangkok, the Li Thi Miew Shrine is not a sight where you'll find many tourists. This Taoist temple has a large roof housing plenty of smaller shrines. As typical in Chinese shrines, the roof features two dragons that play with a pearl. The building next to the temple features a large shrine, which just like the Thien Fa Foundation, is dedicated to Kuan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy.edit
Poh Teck Tung Foundation (มูลนิธิป่อเต็กตึ๊ง Por Tek Teung Foundation), 326 Chao Khamrob Rd (near Wat Kanikapon and the Phlap Phla Chai Police Station), ☎ +66 2 226-4444(-8). 07:00-20:00 daily. This charity organisation has been established by dr. Utain Techapaiboon more than 100 years ago for arranging funerals for unidentified corpses, such as accident victims. Between the foundation and the Li Thi Miew Shrine are plenty of funerary paraphernalia stores. Most interesting is the Da Feng Zu Shrine inside. It is a very lively shrine with many Thai-Chinese coming over to worship the Da Feng Zu God, make a merit and get rid of their bad fortune. Many satin banners and paper offerings such as fake money are burned to ensure that the spirit of the deceased has lots of good things in the afterlife.Free. edit
San Jao Sieng Kong (ศาลเจ้าเซียงกง), Soi Wanit 2 (take a small alley off Soi Wanit 2, opposite River View Guesthouse). 06:00-18:00 daily. In one of the small sois and particularly hard to find, with 200 years this riverbank shrine is actually one of the oldest Chinese shrines in the city. It is guarded by a playful rooftop terracotta dragon. One of the former owners of the shrine made money by collecting taxes on bird-nest delicacies. It particularly gets lively during the Vegetarian Festival in October, when Chinese operas and fairground games are staged. It is in the middle of the Sieng Kong Zone, a car spare parts market named after the shrine, and thus could be combined with a visit to it.Donation requested. edit
Thien Fa Foundation (มูลนิธิเทียนฟ้า), Yaowarat Rd (slightly north of the Yaowarat Rd and Charoen Krung Rd intersection, also north of the Odeon Circle). This is the oldest charitable society of Bangkok, founded in 1902 by Chinese immigrants in Thailand. The local clinics at the site provide free medical treatment for the poor using traditional Chinese as well as modern practices. Most interesting for foreign visitors is the courtyard which boasts the Guan Yin Shrine (ปูชนียสถานเจ้าแม่กวนอิม), commonly known as the "Shrine for the Goddess of Mercy". Local visitors of the shrine follow the Mahayana school of Buddhism, which is different from the Theravada school that is dominant elsewhere in Thailand. The statue of the goddess Ming, to whom the shrine is dedicated, is the highlight of the temple. The statue was carved out from a single piece of solid teakwood and shows Ming in the attitude of giving blessings. It was carved in China in Tang Dynasty art style and is believed to be around 800 years old. The statue has been in possession of the foundation since 1958, when it was taken out of China and placed inside the temple. The exterior's architecture is typically Chinese with an impressive roof and beautiful teak wood motif carving of dragons and other Chinese symbols. It is particularly lively during Chinese New Year.edit
Chinese shop houses, Maha Chak Rd (northwest of the intersection between Sampeng Lane and Maha Chak Rd, take the small alley from Maha Chak Rd). Rows of stuccoed yellow Chinese shop houses are to be found here in a very serene environment. As they are very photogenic and typical for the area, a picture of these shop houses shouldn't be missed.Free. edit
Chinese arch that marks the beginning of Yaowarat Road
King's Birthday Celebration Arch (ประตูจีนที่วงเวียนโอเดียน Arch Commemorating the 6th Cycle Birthday Anniversary), Odeon Circle (at the intersection of Tri Mit Rd and Charoen Krung Rd). This Chinese-style ceremonial gate is located at the Odeon Circle. It was built by Thais of Chinese descent to show their loyalty to King Bhumibol, and officially revealed on his 72nd birthday on 5 December 1999. The four Chinese characters on the arch mean "Long Live The King" and are in the handwriting of HRH Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn (who is fluent in Chinese).Free. edit
King Rama I the Great Monument (พระบรมราชานุสาวรีย์พระบาทสมเด็จพระพุทธยอดฟ้าจุฬาโลกมหาราช), Tri Phet Rd (behind the Memorial Bridge). Built in commemoration of Bangkok's 150th anniversary celebrations in 1932, the monument is situated at the foot of Pathom Boromrachanuson or Rama I the Great Memorial Bridge on the Bangkok side. King Rama I was the first king in the Royal House of Chakri and founder of Bangkok as the capital of the Kingdom of Siam, as Thailand was formerly known. He was born in Ayutthaya, one of Thailand's former capitals, on 20 March, 1736, accessed to the throne on 6 April, 1782, and passed away 27 years later.Free. edit
Samphanthawong Museum (พิพิธภัณฑ์ท้องถิ่นกรุงเทพมหานคร), Song Wat Rd (inside Wat Pathum Khongkha School, enter building 2 and then head upstairs), ☎ +66 2 233-3216. M-F 08:00-16:00. This community museum is dedicated to the early Chinese immigrants in Bangkok. Pictures and text in Thai and English give the visitor an overview of the history of this ethnic group and their lives and contributions to Yaowarat (part of which is also called Samphanthawong District). There are pictures to see what Sampheng Lane was like about one hundred years ago. An interesting museum if you want to get a deeper understanding of the area.Free. edit
Bangkok Bank Building (ธนาคารกรุงเทพ), Sampeng Lane (at the intersection of Sampeng Lane and Mangkon Rd). Right opposite to the Tang To Kang gold shop, and actually quite similar to it, the Bangkok Bank Building is one of Bangkok's oldest commercial buildings. The exterior is an example of classic early Rattanakosin-style with clear European influences. The interior is heavy with hardwood panelling.edit
Holy Rosary Church (วัดแม่พระลูกประคำ Wat Mae Phra Luk Prakham, also known as วัดกาลหว่าร์ Kalawar Church), 1318 Yotha Rd (slightly north of River City, behind the Wanit 2 Market), ☎ +66 2 266-4849, . Religious services M-Sa 06:00, Su 06:15, 08:00, 10:00. Portuguese descendants of the early traders in Ayutthaya first settled at the other bank of the river in Thonburi (at the site of the Santa Cruz Church), but gradually moved towards the other bank of the river. As the Portuguese were one of the most important trading nations in Siam, this church was built with a land grant from King Rama I in 1786, about four years after Bangkok was established as Siam's capital. As Portugal's influence overseas diminished, the Portuguese community was dispersed and the church fell into disuse. Due to the Indochina Wars of the mid-20th-century, many catholic Vietnamese and Cambodians fled to Bangkok and adopted this church as their main house of worship. Throughout its history, it has been rebuilt twice, with the present church dating from the 1890s. The cream-coloured church has a towering spire, an interesting set of European-style stained-glass windows, as well as a statue of Christ that is carried through the streets during Easter.edit
Siam Commercial Bank Building Talat Noi Branch (อาคารธนาคารไทยพาณิชย์สาขาตลาดน้อย), Soi Wanit 2 (take the passageway from Soi Wanit 2, slightly north of the Holy Rosary Church). M-F 10:00-18:00. Instead of trying to find this building while walking, this Art Deco-style building is actually best seen from the Chao Phraya Express Boat. It is the first commercial bank of Thailand run by Thais. It was designed by the Italian architect Annibale Rigotti and completed in 1904 in typical 19th century European style. Each gable is unique with delicate patterns of stucco.Free. edit
Song Wat Road (ถนนทรงวาด). A century ago, this road was the centre of a rice trading industry. A stroll along the road gives a good impression of the old days with tumbled down nineteenth century-style warehouses and business houses.edit
Tang To Kang Gold Shop (พิพิธภัณฑ์ทองคำห้างทองตั้งโต๊ะกัง), 345 Sampeng Lane (intersection of Sampeng Lane and Mangkon Rd), ☎ +66 2 224-2422. M-Sa 09:30-16:00. Chinatown is one of Bangkok's oldest districts and about 14% of the buildings have been designated as historical landmarks. Tang To Kang is one of them, an interesting colonial style building and actually the oldest gold shop of Bangkok (which is hard to believe now with so many gold shops scattered over the district). If you want to see their gold museum, you have to make an appointment two days ahead.Free. edit
Take the Yaowarat and Phahurat Tour, a full day walking tour around the most interesting sights, markets and restaurants of the area.
Yaowarat Foodie Walk and Culture Tour, (meet at MRT Hua Lamphong station), ☎ +66 8 9126-3657, . Tue-Sun 18:00-21:30. This is a culinary walking tour through Yaowarat that takes about 3.5 hours. The tour includes the tasting of 10 or more menus from 7 local eateries, as well as visits to local landmarks. The tour is available everyday except Monday.1,300 baht. edit
Chalerm Krung Royal Theatre (เฉลิมกรุงรอยัลเธียเตอร์), 66 Charoen Krung Rd (near the Old Siam Plaza), ☎ +66 2 225-8757(-8). 10:00-18:00 daily. Opened in 1933, the theatre places a heavy emphasis on Thai dramas known as "khon" — traditional Thai dances based on Thai history and legends that take about two hours. The "khon" are mostly performed during the winter months, while other performing arts (including cinema) are staged throughout the year. It is best to call first to find out about which performances are on.edit
A great time to visit Yaowarat is during Chinese New Year (เทศกาลตรุษจีน), when Bangkok's Chinatown goes on steroids. Yaowarat Road will be closed to traffic as street festivities, lion dances and food fairs take place. Generally, a member of the Thai royal family comes over to celebrate among the Chinese community. Temples will be more packed than ever with many Thai-Chinese coming over to pray and burn incense. The best temples to visit this time of the year are Wat Mangkon Kamalawat and Thien Fa Foundation.
Another festival you might want to attend is the ten day Vegetarian Festival (เทศกาลกินเจ), which is generally taking place around September or October. Many Thai-Chinese (and increasingly ethnic Thai) come over to Yaowarat during festival time to buy vegetarian products, such as vegetables, fruits and cooking ingredients. Most of the action happens around Wat Mangkon Kamalawat (which is also more lively) and in the area around Talat Noi. Look out for the yellow flags at the carts that show their meat-free status. Restaurants also adapt to the tradition, substituting meat products for soy-based products, even for traditional Thai dishes like tom yam. The most interesting festival dish are the yellow Hokkien-style noodles that are usually served with vegetables and mushrooms.
Every year around late September or early October, the Mooncake Festival (เทศกาลไหว้พระจันทร์), also known as Mid-Autumn Festival or Lantern Festival, is held in Yaowarat. Chinese families and friends gather under the full moon to pay respect to the Goddess of the Moon. Their celebratations include the eating of mooncakes and pomelos together under the light of the bright moon. Many stores in Yaowarat sell mooncakes during festival time, so you might want to try one of these sweet cakes that come in many varieties.
Typical for Yaowarat are its small crowded lanes filled with markets, that sell... well, anything you could possibly imagine. You'll stumble on items for sale as diverse as Chinese medicine, snake blood, Buddhist paraphernalia, toys, ant-killer chalk, car spare parts, typical teenager stuff and more. Parallel to the big Yaowarat Road lies Sampeng Lane (sometimes signposted as Soi Wanit 1, 08:00-18:00 daily) which is probably the most characteristic (if tacky) shopping lane of the area. This narrow lane, at some places having a width of less than one metre, used to be a shady area thriving on brothels, gambling houses and opium dens, but has now turned into a crowded lane of endless ramshackle department stores. The lane can roughly be divided into three sections, all of them selling different kind of products at bargain rates. The lower eastern part of Sampeng Lane focuses on cheap teenager accessories, such as cheap jewellery, toys, and hair products. In the middle part, there is more of a focus on shoes, Chinese ceramics and lanterns. Indian merchants have mostly taken over the part west of Rachawongse Road, where you can find fabrics, silk and other clothing. Don't expect high quality here, just shop for the heck of it.
Some of the smaller markets include:
Ban Mo (บ้านหม้อ), Soi Thip Wari (alley runs parallel to Phahurat Road at the northern side). 09:00-17:00 daily. The market known as Ban Mo has hundreds of shops selling electronics and home appliances. There are also numerous repair shops and replacement parts on sale. In addition, there is an overwhelming sale of counterfeit and pornographic CDs and DVDs. There are few foreigners here, most visitors are Thai males looking for cheap electronics and spare parts.edit
Khlong Ong Ang Market (คลองโอ่งอ่าง, also known as สะพานหัน Saphan Le), Boriphat Rd (at the intersection of Boriphat Rd and Yaowarat Rd, next to the Thieves Market). This cheap market is on the banks of Khlong Ong Ang, and easily combined with the Thieves' Market. It feels quite cramped as the shops are around a very small pathway. The products for sale are toys and electronics, such as air guns, video games, camcorders, used cameras and accessories.edit
Khlong Thom Market (คลองถม), (between Luang Rd, Charoen Krung Rd, Worachak Rd and Suapa Rd). Another one of Chinatown's typical markets, and actually one of the largest. It is not really one market, but instead a combination of specialty stores and open-air markets. It is mostly of interest if you're looking for low-cost electronics and hardware, such as cellular phones, CDs and DVDs, gadgets, household tools, toys, vehicle spare parts, some clothing and many many small things. edit
Noi Market (ตลาดน้อย), Soi 20 and 22, Charoen Krung Rd (between Soi Wanit 2 and Charoen Krung Rd). This market is so off the beaten path, you may not even find your way back anymore. Its hidden location between soi 20 and 22 gives this market a very local atmosphere, even while tourists are never far away. The market vendors sell products from China, fruit and other fresh food. But most interesting is the fact that you might walk through others' living rooms and see more of the citizens' daily life. Nearby is the Sieng Kong Zone, which can easily be combined with a visit to the Noi Market.edit
Plaeng Nam Road (ถนนแปลงนาม). This small road feels like a time machine with an atmosphere of at least one hundred years old. It is an excellent showcase of ancient Chinese civilization. If coming from Charoen Krung Road, pass the Mongkol Smakhorm Temple and the ancient Chinese pharmacy and on the right side you will find Guang Jiab Xia, a shop selling and repairing traditional Chinese musical instruments. Generally they are also trying one of the instruments playing traditional Chinese music. Close by is Liang Guang Panich, a 70-year old shop that sells ancient Thai and foreign lamps.edit
Sieng Kong Zone
Sieng Kong Zone, Soi Wanit 2 (at the intersection of Soi Wanit 2 and Soi Yaowarat 10). The Sieng Kong Zone is the oldest car spare part market of Bangkok. It is a typical neighbourhood to see the daily life of the local Chinese, most of who work in garages and repair cars on the streets. Obviously it is not easy to bring these parts home, but it does make for a fun walk. You will come across huge piles of oily car parts, some of them taller than 3 metres! The area is named after the San Jao Sieng Kong temple, which is listed in the See section.edit
Thieves' Market (เวิ้งนาครเกษม Woeng Nakhon Kasem), Woeng Nakhon Kasem 1 and 2 (between Chakrawat Rd and Boriphat Rd). This open-air market is called the Thieves' Market, as many of the goods sold here were stolen. Now it is mostly known for its combination of garage sales, brassware, blue-and-white porcelain, old furniture and imitation antiques. Not too interesting for most foreigners though, but it is so dirty that it might be worth a look. Some of its visitors are drawn by the sale of all kinds of musical instruments, from guitars to flutes.edit
Wanit 2 Market (ถนนวานิช 2), Soi Wanit 2 (right in front of the Holy Rosary Church, north of River City). This market doesn't seem to have a real name, but its location near the church and River City makes it relatively easy to find. It's not worth it to specifically come here for the market, as it is very small, but it is a fun market if you happen to be in the area. You might want to sit down on one of the plastic seats and try some Chinese snacks as you walk from River City to Chinatown proper.edit
Shopping in Phahurat is not as rewarding for the average traveller, unless you are into Bollywood movies, betelnut leaves (paan) or Punjabi sweets. If you're looking for fabrics, however, Phahurat is definitely the place to be. And even if you're not specifically looking for fabrics, it is still a great adventure to visit the Phahurat Fabrics Market (Phahurat Rd and Triphet Rd, 09:00-18:00 daily). The first task is to actually find it: it is carefully hidden and you need to walk through a couple of other stores to get into it. Once you're there, you'll definitely know though, as it is a fabrics market on steroids. Thousands of retailers of Indian descent sell fabrics in every colour, shape and pattern you could possibly imagine. Some shops are specialised in custom-made wedding gifts, dresses and souvenirs. This old market is a labyrinth of narrow lanes, barely wide enough for two people to pass each other. It is the most typical market the Indian neighbourhood has to offer and has managed to keep its unique character ever since it was founded.
Besides fabrics, Phahurat is also an excellent place for buying accessories, such as bracelets, trinkets and sandals. There are literally thousands of different kinds for sale, and all for a bargain, so mix and match as you wish. You'll also notice many stores selling religious paraphernalia like statues and pictures of Indian deities.
As Phahurat becomes deserted at night, Pak Khlong Talat (ปากคลองตลาด, Chakphet Rd, 24 hours) just starts to become lively. Not having anything to do with the Indian community, this wholesale flower market is a great stroll through and a highlight in its own right. The endless piles orchids, roses and other flowers are an interesting sight, and there is something to be found for any budget. There are amazingly expensive bouquets for thousands of bahts, but your partner might even be happier with a beautifully created rose for just 50 baht. The market is open at all times, but the best time to visit is around 03:00, when the new flower batches come in from West and Central Thailand. If that is too late (or too early) for you, visit it from 20:00 onwards when the market is beautifully illuminated and very lively.
A visit to the flower market can easily be combined with the Memorial Bridge Night Market (สะพานพุทธ Saphan Phut, Tu-Su 20:00-00:00), which is located at the Memorial Bridge pier. This cramped night bazaar is a fun walk through the dark, as plenty of colourful lights bright up the place. Expect nothing spectacular though, most of the products for sale are clothing, shoes and accessories for teenagers, as well as some second-hand items.
Yaowarat has been the home of gold and gem trading for a couple of centuries, and it is no wonder that some of the oldest buildings in the district are gold shops. Originally, the four "tycoon" gold shops were Seng Heng Li, Hua Seng Heng, Tung Jin Aeng and Tang To Kang. Now there are more than 130 gold shops along Yaowarat Road alone, which is why it is known as the "Golden Road". Generally, the gold is of high standard (of approximately 23 karat gold) and most shops are a member of the Gold Merchants Association. As this district is out of the tourist eye, it is a lot safer to buy gems here than in other districts, but still be on the lookout for the gem scam. See the Stay safe section of the Bangkok page for more information about the scam and what to do once you've fallen for it. One of the better trusted gem stores:
Johny's Gems, 199 Fuang Nakhon Rd, ☎ +66 2 224-4065, . M-Sa 09:30-18:00. Known among Bangkok's expats as one of the more trusted gem shops. It focuses mainly on rubies and emeralds and has something for all budgets. The original owner whom the shop is named after has since passed away, but the store has been taken over by his son.edit
Three of Bangkok's better known malls can also be found in the district:
India Emporium, 561/77 Jakkraplach Rd, ☎ +66 2 623-9301-2, . 10:00-22:00 daily. This four-storey Indian shopping mall is a lot more modern than the other ones in the area. It is mostly interesting for fabrics and Indian-style clothing, though they also have a good restaurant at the ground floor (which closes later at 23:00).edit
Old Siam Plaza, 12 Tri Phet Rd (at the intersection of Phahurat Rd and Tri Phet Rd), ☎ +66 2 226-0156. 10:00-21:00 daily. This is a big shopping mall in colonial European-style, and an excellent place to fresh up as it is fully air-conditioned. It has a strange combination of products for sale, such as branded and second-hand clothing, gadgets, electronics, handicrafts and gold futures (if interested). For clothes shopping, the ground store is most interesting with plenty of cheap deals available. Surrounding the mall are plenty of stores selling weapons and ammunition. Don't even think about bringing one home!edit
River City (ศูนย์การค้าริเวอร์ซิตี้), 23 Trok Rongnamkhaeng (Si Phraya pier, next to Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel), ☎ +66 2 237-0077, . 10:00-20:00 daily. Easily accessible by Express Boat, this shopping mall has Bangkok's best collection of arts, crafts, antiques, pottery, ornaments, sculptures and wood carvings — but these are the real thing and definitely priced to match. Note that real antiques and religious images will require export licences, though the shops can arrange them for you (for a fee). Every first Saturday of the month, a monthly auction of crafts is held at the River City auditorium. One of the more interesting stores is Old Maps & Prints at the fourth floor. They have a fascinating collection of old maps with an emphasis on Thailand and Southeast Asia, but anything over a century old will set you back several thousand baht.edit
This guide uses the following price ranges for a typical meal for one, including soft drink:
Under 100 baht
Over 500 baht
Yaowarat has the city's best selection of Chinese restaurants, many of which specialise in expensive delicacies like bird's nest, abalone or fresh seafood (often still swimming in tanks near the entrance). The best part is that high-end seafood can be enjoyed here for very affordable prices. Gather the biggest group you can, preferably with a Chinese speaker or two, and head down for some ren'ao ("hot and noisy") banqueting. Yaowarat Road and Soi Phadung Dao (often known as Soi Texas) are the places to be for typical Chinese delicacies. Travellers on budget might want to take a bite at one of the numerous hawker stalls lined up around Yaowarat Road. Trok Issaranuphap (พระยาอิสรานุภาพ) also has its fair share of simple plastic chairs and Chinese dishes, but is mostly known for its Chinese food markets.
Shark fin soup
The Chinese in Yaowarat love shark fin soup, as it is so delicious. And cheap. Yet, you might want to think about the environmental effects of this tasty meal. Animal rights activists and environmentalists emphasise the brutal practice of shark finning, which happens largely unregulated at sea. As the Chinese economy is booming, more and more middle-class Chinese can afford eating shark fin soup. Shark specialists estimate that annually anywhere between 38 million and 100 million sharks are only killed for their fins. It is such a large number that it has the potential of significantly altering oceanic ecosystems. Eventually, the choice is up to you.
If you're looking for Indian restaurants, your best bets are Phahurat Road and Chakphet Road. The roads themselves tend to get deserted after dark, so you might want to head off by taxi when eating time is over.
Chong Kee, 84 Soi Sukon 1 (near Wat Traimit), ☎ +66 2 236-1171. Tu-Su 09:30-19:00, M 09:30-14:00. Another small budget restaurant in Chinatown. Many of the eateries here are specialised in one kind of dish, and here the pork satay with sweet toast is the one to try. Lots of herbs were added into the satay sauce. Usually there are plenty of seats available, but it can be crowded during lunch time.60 baht. edit
Hongkong Noodle, 136 Trok Issaranuphap. 09:00-18:00 daily. This typical Yaowarat budget restaurant is in the middle of the sensual Trok Issaranuphap market. Just take a seat on one of the plastic chairs and immerse yourself in the surrounding commerce. Obviously, go for the noodles.30 baht. edit
Nai Ek, 442 Soi 9, Yaowarat Rd (near White Orchid Hotel), ☎ +66 2 226-4651. 10:00-14:00 daily. Simple budget restaurant for boiled noodles.40-50 baht. edit
Nai Sow, 3-1 Maitri Chit Rd, ☎ +66 2 222-1539. 10:00-22:00 daily. A simple restaurant in the north of Yaowarat. It serves the usual Thai dishes, such as tom yam goong.50 baht. edit
Thai Charoen, 454 Charoen Krung Rd, ☎ +66 2 221-2633. 09:00-19:00 daily. Another one of Yaowarat's budget places, this unpretentious restaurant has all the Chinese specialties for absolute bargain prices. You might want to try the stuffed squid.30 baht. edit
Yen Ta Fo Je Hieng, Yaowarat Rd (at the intersection of Mangkon Rd and Yaowarat Rd). 09:00-18:00 daily. This simple restaurant is specialised in "yen ta fo", a Thai seafood dish best explained as rice noodles in red tofu soup. The place does not have an English sign outside, so look for the big red sign with the menu written out in white Thai alphabet.30 baht. edit
Chacha Restaurant, 458 Chakphet Rd, ☎ +66 2 222-5712. Small, simple and unpretentious, it gets the job done with some fine dishes from northern India. The obvious Indian curries are present, but where this restaurant excels is at its wide array of vegetarian dishes. If you're a vegetarian (or even if you're not), you might want to try the allimatter, a spicy dish of chickpea, rice and potatoes.65 baht. edit
Old Siam Plaza Food Court, 3F, Old Siam Plaza, 12 Tri Phet Rd (at the intersection of Phahurat Rd and Tri Phet Rd), ☎ +66 2 226-0156. 10:00-21:00 daily. The Old Siam has an excellent food court with delicious Thai and Chinese dishes. It works with a coupon system. If you're still hungry afterwards, head for the first floor of the building which has an excellent choice of local sweets and desserts.90 baht. edit
Samrat, Chakphet Rd. 09:00-21:00 daily. Another budget restaurant with delicious Indian curries, along with a range of desserts and drinks.80 baht. edit
Chiang Kii, 54 Soi Bamrungrat. 17:00-22:00 daily. This old-school restaurant is known to sell some of Bangkok's most expensive rice and fish soup (khao tom plaa). It's a simple dish, but the reason for the 250 baht price tag is the incredibly fresh fish that's used. The owners are an elderly couple that prepares each meal with care, and it is possible to add ingredients to the menu if you wish. In the end, you might feel a little ripped off though.250 baht. edit
China Town Scala (ภัตตาคารหูฉลามไชน่าทาวน์สกาล่า), 483-485 Yaowarat Rd (between Nam Sing and the Shanghai Mansion Hotel), ☎ +66 2 623-0183. 10:30-02:00 daily. This is one of the more upmarket restaurants in the area, and a good one for trying bird's nest. Beforehand you can choose one of the usual Chinese appetisers such as dim sum, spring rolls or prawn crackers. The menus are in English and have pictures so you can just point to the dish of your interest.300-450 baht. edit
Hua Seng Hong, 371-373 Yaowarat Rd, ☎ +66 2 222-0635. 08:00-01:00 daily. The typical messy place you would expect in Chinatown. It's a plain long hall with many chairs for guests to sit on, filled by locals. There's ample choice between dishes that will be served on multiple small plates. Try the bird's nest soup or the mussels in batter (hoy tawt).100-500 baht. edit
Nam Sing (ร้านอาหารนำซิง), 39-47 Soi Phadung Dao (in the alley right off Yaowarat Rd), ☎ +66 2 222-6292. 09:00-02:00 daily. A large and functional restaurant, best known for its bird nest but there's plenty of other fare on offer. Try the chili crab and pork neck. There is an English menu with pictures available, and they even accept Visa and Mastercard.200-300 baht. edit
Shangarila Restaurant, 306 Yaowarat Rd, ☎ +66 2 224-5933. 11:00-22:00 daily. This enormous banquet restaurant most resembles the typical dim sum restaurants you can find in Hong Kong. Many families come here in a large group to enjoy dim sum and other Cantonese dishes.250-500 baht. edit
@ Siam. cosy place in front of the station, where Grandma keeps an eye on the three gays guys attending you with overdone attention. Wide range of Asian food, outside terrace, wifi60-250 bahts. edit
Tang Jai Yoo, 85-89 Yaowa Phanit Rd (just south of the intersection of Yaowarat Rd and Yaowa Phanit Rd), ☎ +66 2 224-2167. 11:00-22:00 daily. Formerly featured in Anthony Bourdain's "No Reservations" television show, this open-air seafood restaurant is a must-try for some culinary delights. Start with some stewed turtle soup and then top it up with a whole crab or lobster that comes from one of the tanks inside the restaurant. Their specialty is roasted baby pig skin, very crispy and delicious. When you've finished the skin, the pig will be brought back to the kitchen and its meat will be used for your main dish.250-500 baht. edit
The Canton House, 530 Yaowarat Rd (opposite China Town Scala Restaurant), ☎ +66 2 221-3335. 11:00-22:00 daily. One of the most popular restaurants for Hong Kong-style dim sum. For 19 baht a piece, it is absolutely a good value, but order a lot of them (five per person) to get full! The atmosphere is frenetic and overwhelming, but you wouldn't expect any different from a place in Chinatown. Service is fast and decent, and its sterile white interior looks remarkably professional for the area.100-150 baht. edit
T&K Seafood (ต๋อย & คิดซีฟู้ด), 49-51 Soi Phadung Dao (at the intersection of Yaowarat Rd and Soi Phadung Dao), ☎ +66 2 223-4519. 16:30-02:00. Hailed as the best barbecued seafood restaurant in Bangkok, masses of people generally stand out in front of the entrance waiting to be seated. It looks very cheap and basic by Western standards, but its great local atmosphere and delicious food make more than up for it. Try the barbecued prawns as they are the must-try here. If you're tired of the heat, take one of the air-conditioned seats upstairs.100-500 baht. edit
Royal India Restaurant, 392-1 Chakphet Rd, ☎ +66 2 221-6565. 10:00-22:00 daily. Tucked off in a creepy alley in the middle of the Indian neighbourhood, this simple restaurant with an uninspiring decor and a loud TV (as the owner likes to watch soap operas after 20:00) still can be recommended due to its excellent Indian cuisine. Its curries won many awards over the years. You might want to try the rogan josh. Plenty of other foreign travellers know it as well though.250 baht. edit
Talat Kao (ตลาดเก่า), Trok Issaranuphap (at the intersection of Trok Issaranuphap and Sampeng Lane). 04:00-11:00 daily. Instead of the tacky markets seen elsewhere, this is a more sensual market and a great way to experience the more authentic side of Chinatown. Just like Talat Mai, it is mostly a food market with lots of fresh meat, fish, vegetables and fruits for sale. Chinese delicacies like dried abalone (shellfish), fried puffed up fish stomachs and steamed bird's nests can also be found, as are non-food products like ant-killer chalk, Chinese medicines and ginseng roots. Its name means Old Market, and is not an understatement, as it has been up and running since the late 18th century. Get up early as it closes down before the afternoon kicks in.edit
Talat Mai (ตลาดใหม่), Trok Issaranuphap (north of Yaowarat Rd and south of Charoen Krung Rd). 04:00-18:00 daily. This market is close to Talat Kao and similar food products are for sale here. Talat Mai means "New Market", though it still is about one hundred years old. Unlike Talat Kao, this market stays open till the early evening.edit
If you're looking for bars or clubs, you are definitely in the wrong neighbourhood — but in Yaowarat, you'll always find an opportunity to drink something you have never tried before. You might want to try the snake tonic in the middle of Phadung Dao Road, about 300 metres from the east end of Yaowarat Road. Based on Chinese traditions, an old man can cure any ailments you might have with this brew from the blood and meat of snakes. Not for the fainthearted.
Most visitors just line up at one of Yaowarat Road's numerous hawker stalls for some soda or iced chocolate. Else you can take a seat at one of the area's coffee joints:
Ek Teng Phu Kee Coffee, Yaowarat Rd (at the intersection of Yaowarat Rd and Song Sawat Rd), ☎ +66 2 221-4484. 03:30-21:30 daily. A nice coffee stall down the east end of Yaowarat. A good place to see the people of Yaowarat discuss anything you probably can't understand over a cup of coffee.50 baht. edit
Iea Sae Coffee, Phat Sai Rd (at the intersection of Phat Sai Rd and Yaowa Phanit Rd), ☎ +66 2 573-3388. 05:00-22:00 daily. As always in Yaowarat, this 80-year old coffee joint does not sell the usual latte or cappuccino - the special treat is Chaozhou coffee, a bittersweet Chinese brew.50 baht. edit
This guide uses the following price ranges for a standard double room:
Under 1,000 baht
1,000 baht to 2,500 baht
Over 2,500 baht
Not many people spend the night in Yaowarat or Phahurat, but there are some hotels available for the ones who'd like to explore the area more than just one day. Yaowarat is an interesting medium-cost alternative for Khao San Road, and the atmosphere is much more authentic. Many of the hotels have the same ramshackle feel as those found in the average Chinese city.
Shadow Inn, 550 Vanich 1 (Close to the 7/11 in the area), ☎ 0855610089, . checkin: 2; checkout: 12. Very cheap place owned by a very nice indian guy named Albert. It only has cold showers and is a bit dirty. The beds come with no sheets but if you ask the owner he will give you one. 130THB for dorm.130-300THB. edit
238 Guesthouse, 238 Phahurat Rd (at the corner of Phahurat Road and Charoen Krung Soi 2), ☎ +66 2 623-9073, . One of the few basic hotels in the Phahurat area, the 16 rooms of 238 Guesthouse do a decent job. There are air-conditioned rooms with hot showers and fan rooms with cold showers. Additional services in the lobby, such as laundry, Wi-Fi, computer games, food and drinks.500-700 baht. edit
Broad Way Hotel, 445 Yaowarat Rd (near White Orchid Hotel), ☎ +66 2 221-1430. This budget hotel is situated at the second floor, as the first floor only has stairs. It has fifty rooms, but they are not in a very good condition. Some rooms have a bathroom and air-conditioning. BEWARE: When we went there (Aug 2013) it was a kind of brothel. No rooms for 'normal' backpackers available.300-600 baht. edit
Golden Chain Hotel (โรงแรมโกลเด้นเชน), 231 Yaowarat Rd, ☎ +66 2 221-0384. Very cheap hotel with 37 rooms that have a TV, refrigerator, table, bathroom and hot water. Also, there is a restaurant at the ground floor.Fan 270 baht, air-conditioning 470 baht, deluxe air-conditioning 570 baht. edit
My Guest House, 114 Phat Sai Rd (at the corner of Phat Sai Road and Song Sawat Road), ☎ +66 2 223-5963. Just look at the price and you know that this is a very old place fully meant for those who are looking for a very cheap way to get through the night. The rooms are windowless and only have cold water showers available. But the staff is very helpful and there's a good Thai/Chinese restaurant downstairs with an English menu.EDIT- as of January 2014 this place may not exist any more.150-300 baht. edit
River View Guest House, 768 Soi Phanurangsri, ☎ +66 2 234-5429, . In the narrow back alleys around Talat Noi, this hotel is really hard to find. It is hidden from the chaos in a filthy residential neighbourhood, but that's the charm: it feels like a serene, tranquil and village-like atmosphere, which is quite unusual in a megalopolis like Bangkok. Its roof terrace gives an excellent view over the Chao Phraya River (hence the name). But don't forget that it is a budget hotel that is aimed at backpackers, so it is very basic and not always clean. There are cheaper fan rooms and more expensive air-conditioning rooms, but don't expect a lot from the cheaper end rooms.450-900 baht. edit
If you need to catch one of the early trains (to Ayutthaya, Kanchanaburi or beyond), it can pay off to spend the night in the area around Hualamphong Train Station. Its location is ideal, as it is at the meeting point of three interesting districts (Siam Square, Silom and Yaowarat), while the area is also served by an MRT station.
Krung Kasem Srikung Hotel, 1860 Krung Kasem Rd, ☎ +66 2 225-8900. This budget hotel is close to Hualamphong Train Station. It's obviously not the prettiest building ever, but its clean sizable rooms are good value. Its location is excellent, both close to Chinatown and to the MRT station to Silom. Try to get a room with an even number as the uneven ones are closer to the road and its street noise.650 baht. edit
Sri Hualamphong Hotel, 445 Rong Muang Rd, ☎ +66 2 214-2610. Another old hotel, as is common this area, but this one clearly has a history behind it. It is in a distinctive Chinese style, and must have been an amazing attraction in the past. Now it's kinda dusty and old, but still decent as a station hotel. They only have fan and cold water rooms.250-400 baht. edit
Station Hotel, 518 Rong Muang Rd (down a small food stall soi to the left of the station when exiting Train Station; look high up for the sign), ☎ +66 2 214-2794. This hotel is very basic, buts its clean and in a convenient location. Air-conditioned rooms are of better quality than the fan rooms, and feature Western-style toilets.250-400 baht. edit
Train Inn, 428 Rong Mueang Rd (MRT Hua Lamphong, near Hualamphong Train Station), ☎ +66 2 215-3055(-66), . Don't expect anything more than a budget hotel here, most travellers just use it to catch an early train, as the train station is only a 3-minutes walk. The whole hotel feels a bit claustrophobic (some rooms don't have windows) and there can be a disgusting smell all over the place. The rooms are okay and include air-conditioning. The staff is polite too.450-900 baht. edit
China Town Hotel (โรงแรมไชน่าทาวน์), 526 Yaowarat Rd (at the intersection of Yaowarat Road and Song Sawat Road), ☎ +66 2 225-0204, . This mid-range hotel has a diverse selection of rooms. It's cheapest rooms are tiny and simple, but its more upscale rooms feel more like a boutique hotel. Rooms are worn down though, as this is an old hotel that is in desperate need of renovation. Ask to inspect the room before booking permanently. The staff barely speaks any English, but you'll get far enough with non-verbal communication.1,200-4,200 baht. edit
Grand China Princess Hotel (โรงแรมเดอะแกรนด์ไชน่าปริ๊นเซส), 215 Yaowarat Rd (at the intersection with Rachawongse Rd), ☎ +66 2 224-9977, . The hotel seems a bit dated at first, but its location, good service and breakfast definitely make up for it. Also, the rooms have a nice view over the city and are spotlessly clean. To top it up, there's a panoramic rotating restaurant at the top floor that is really worth it.2,200-4,200 baht. edit
Grande Ville Hotel (Bangkok China Town Hotel), 903 Mahachai Rd (right at the border in Phahurat, but close to Yaowarat), ☎ +66 2 225-0050, . Grande Ville Hotel Bangkok is ideally located in the heart of the Bangkok city; the vibrant bustling commercial district of China Town Bangkok. Just fifteen minutes from express way and subway (MRT), making all parts of the city easily accessible2,000-3,400 baht. edit
White Orchid Hotel (โรงแรมไวท์ออร์คิด), 409-421 Yaowarat Rd, ☎ +66 2 222-1413, . This simple hotel is in the centre of Chinatown, and easy to find due to the name tags outside. It's not as luxury as the pictures at the website suggests, and even a bit unclean, but gets the job done. There's internet and a phone available in the lobby, but it's tedious and fairly overpriced. Also, breakfast is free and there's an option for dinner, but compared to the delicacies outside, it is not worth it.1,100-1,500 baht. edit
Miramar Hotel, 777 Maha Chai Rd (at the intersection of Charoen Krung Road and Maha Chai Road), ☎ +66 2 222-4191(-4), . This stylish boutique hotel has an amazing contemporary design, although it does mix in some elements of historic Thai architecture. Wi-Fi is available in all the rooms, but you need to buy an access card at the lobby first. There's also a luxury restaurant and massage facilities.3,000-5,500 baht. edit
Shanghai Mansion Bangkok (โรงแรมเซี่ยงไฮ้แมนชั่น), 479 Yaowarat Rd (at the Yaowarat Rd and Song Sawat Rd intersection), ☎ +66 2 221-2121, . Probably the best in Chinatown, this is the only boutique hotel in the area. It tries to give the visitor the experience of Shanghai as it was during the 1930s. The rooms are designed in a colourful Chinese-style with bright walls and silk lights. Breakfast is included and Wi-Fi is available.4,000-5,500 baht. edit
Despite the amount of people on the streets, there are not many options for public Internet access. Some of the hotels have internet access available, so your best bet is to visit one of them and hope they allow non-guests to use it for a fee. There are no dedicated Internet cafes, so for that, you might want to head off to Siam Square or Khao San Road.