Chinatown Walking Tour in Bangkok (Self Guided), Bangkok

One of the city's brightest, most vibrant and interesting districts, Chinatown is packed with some of the best tourist spots in Bangkok including great museums and amazing temples. See the top sights with our Chinatown Walking Tour.
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Chinatown Walking Tour in Bangkok Map

Guide Name: Chinatown Walking Tour in Bangkok
Guide Location: Thailand » Bangkok (See other walking tours in Bangkok)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 5
Tour Duration: 2 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.9 km
Author: valery
Chinatown Gate

1) Chinatown Gate (must see)

The history of Bangkok's Chinese community dates back to the time when a group of Chinese traders resided at the land where the grand palace stands today. Chinatown is a lively district in Bangkok that runs along Yaowarat Road from Odeon Circle, where a huge ceremonial Chinese gate distinctly marks the entrance, up to the Ong Ang Canal which marks the outer boundaries of the royal district. Chinatown is a place which can easily be explored on foot. It is one of the best places to buy gold as Yaowarat Road is all lined with many gold shops.

Built in 1999 as part of the celebrations of King Bhumibol Adulyadej's 72's birthday, Chinatown Gate is often called Odean Gate after the Odean cinema which used to stand nearby. The words on the gate say "Sheng Shou Wu Jiang" which means "Long Live the King". During Chinese New Year celebrations the gate becomes the center of activities where people come to make their offerings.

Chinatown Gate is the entrance to many sites, a brief description of which is given below:

Wat Traimit, a small temple, is home to the world's largest five-ton-plus solid gold Buddha image. Tien Fa Charity is a small charity and clinic run by the Tien Fa Charitable Foundation. Sampaeng Lane, Chinatown's original main street, is now a small narrow alley. Crowded with shops selling mostly inexpensive household items and a very old Chinese pharmacy, this is definitely worth a look. Wat Mangkon Kamalawat is the Chinese-Buddhist temple which becomes the center of festivities during important festivals such as Chinese New Year and the vegetarian festival. Wat Kanikaphon, founded by a former Madame who owned a brothel, is a small temple with some interesting details. Li Thi Miew Temple is one of the more open and accessible of many Chinese temples in Chinatown. Wat Chakrawat is one of the three biggest monasteries in Bangkok that houses some very unusual buildings as well as a few crocodiles! Phahurat Market is home to a large number of fabric and wedding stalls. It is really a small community center for Sikhs and other immigrants from the subcontinent. The Old Siam is a shopping center where you will find tourist-friendly western and Thai restaurants and fast food outlets.

In short, Chinatown Gate gives you the visa to enter into a whole new world to explore and enjoy!

Plan ahead so you can visit the top spots and leave room in your stomach for the unexpected – but be sure to eat where the locals are queuing.
This is a great place to find good bargains, from fabrics to dry goods, to teas and fish.
Bring small bills and an umbrella, as heavy rains can catch you off guard.
Wat Thepsirin

2) Wat Thepsirin

Nestled in the heart of Chinatown is this beautiful Buddhist temple which will amaze you with its rich golden decorations and colorful murals. Also known as Wat Debsirin, this second class royal temple took two years to build back in the 1870s. King Rama V later dedicated the temple to his beloved mother.
Jim Thompson House & Museum

3) Jim Thompson House & Museum (must see)

James H.W. Thompson, founder of the world renowned Jim Thompson Thai Silk Company, was a self-made American entrepreneur. During his 25 year stay in Thailand, he contributed to the development of the Thai Silk industry. His achievements have won him fame as the "Legendary American of Thailand". He was awarded the Order of the White Elephant – an award given to foreigners for rendering exceptional services to Thailand.

Jim Thompson was born in Greenville in 1906 and was a practiced architect prior to World War II. He volunteered for service in the U.S. Army and reached Thailand on a mission to liberate Thailand. However, the war ended before the operation. He decided to reside in Thailand permanently and devoted himself to reviving the craft of hand-weaving silk. A superb designer and a talented textile colorist, he contributed greatly to the industry's growth and to the worldwide recognition of Thai silk. His dwelling showed his great love for Thai culture. His house has the honor of the 'city's most celebrated social center' along with becoming the 'talk of the town'. Even today, the charming Thai-style house is a key stop for visitors to Bangkok. Supporting columns and the walls lean slightly inward adding to the illusion of height and grace; and the curved roof ends, characteristic of traditional Thai houses, increases the beauty. The collection of antique items on display is also really beautiful and worth seeing.

Why You Should Visit:
Jim Thompson had a great eye for an artifact and his house is the envy of anyone who has even a passing interest in Buddhist or Southeast Asian culture.

English tours are frequent but get a time as soon as you enter.
Go into the shop: it is expensive but the products are excellent.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-6pm
Art and Culture Center

4) Art and Culture Center

Plans for a contemporary art museum in Bangkok were initiated by the city governor Bhichit Rarrakul. Although the construction was planned to be started in 2000, it later halted due to funding problems and suspected corruption. In 2005, the project was restarted. Originally called Bangkok Metropolitan Museum of Contemporary Art (BMOCA), the venue was renamed Bangkok Art and Culture Centre just before inauguration. Opened in 2009 after many delays, arguments, and a last minute name change, the center is situated in the heart of Bangkok's main shopping and entertainment area. It is currently a landmark with a huge statue of a woman, done in white, seated about 20 feet tall. The centre had remained deserted and empty for several months. Slowly and steadily it is now coming to life with a fairly odd mix of private shops and galleries. Almost two years after its opening, the center is full of shops and is a focal point of many tourists as well as Thais. Film festivals are held there occasionally on a state-of-the-art live theatre stage which houses a few modern dance exhibitions as well. The Art and Culture Center houses a series of exhibits some more permanent than others. Main galleries are present on the upper floors while several private art galleries, designer boutiques, music studios and related shops occupy the first three floors. The Bangkok Art and Culture Center (BACC) is a great place to spend your day in an artistic environment where you can read, eat, enjoy and spend quality time.
Ganesha Shrine

5) Ganesha Shrine

Built in 1994, the Ganesha Shrine is a Hindu shrine dedicated to Ganesha - the Hindu elephant god. The deity is more recognizable because of his elephant head, human components (many arms), elements of serpents and the big belly. Visitors come here to be blessed with artistic success and accomplishment.

Though Ganesha is often linked to the field of arts, it is , in fact, the Destroyer of Obstacles. He is also believed to be the god of good fortune and revered by businessmen who wish for success in their ventures. Craftsmen would invoke Ganesha before embarking on a delicate process like stone carving.

The Ganesha Shrine stands at the other corner of Central World Plaza, Bangkok. It has a legend associated with it. Ganesha was believed to annoy his father who unwittingly cut off his head. To rectify his mistake, he ordered his troops to return with the head of anyone found asleep with the head pointing north. When they found an elephant and severed its head to replace Ganesha's head, the legend of the Elephant God was born.

Ganesha Shrine is just one of the six shrines to Hindu deities located in the Ratchaprasong shopping district. It is a surprising occurrence in a predominantly Buddhist country. Worship of Ganesha is an indication of the influence of Hindu gods in Thai customs and rituals being introduced over the centuries. Devotees can be seen praying at the shrine at all times. A red lotus is the main offering dedicated to this god. Other offerings include flowers, fruits, milk and sweets but no meat.

As Ganesha is believed to be the god of accomplishment, wisdom and wealth, the Ganesha Shrine is a favorite place to go and pray to find that elusive road to success.

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