Chinatown Walking Tour in Bangkok, Bangkok (Self Guided)

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.

Walking Tours in Bangkok, Thailand

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Famous Architecture Tour

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Bangkok's varied skyline is a true architectural inspiration, with its unique mix of strange buildings, Italian-inspired designs and modern tall towers. If you take a walk around the city's streets you'll find hidden passageways, regular houses, exhilarating foreign designs and luxurious modern structures. Get the best views of all these sights with our Famous Architecture Tour.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 8.6 km
Bangkok Old City Walk

Bangkok Old City Walk

The ideal way to start a trip to Bangkok is to get a glimpse of its busy backstreets and to gape at its grandest holy places. Why not start your sightseeing in Krungthep, where you will see pretty squares, thronged streets and impressive temples. Then you can roam the backstreets and get a peep at the local street markets. You can also make a stop at a great local Thai restaurant that's...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 5.8 km
Art Galleries Walking Tour in Bangkok

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Bangkok has an appealing selection of art that includes lively modern expressions and beautiful classical representations. Both public galleries and private galleries with artworks for sale are dotted around the city. Don't leave Bangkok without seeing the city's best galleries in our Art Galleries Walking Tour.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.5 km
Wats and Temples of Bangkok

Wats and Temples of Bangkok

Bangkok's shrines are integral to the city's heart and soul. These edifices can impress and overwhelm even the most experienced traveler. In the city you'll find thousands of sites with decorated glass and ceramics and ornamented with complex configurations of painted gold. Take our tour of Wats and Temples to see the best of the many holy shrines Bangkok has to offer.

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 7.5 km
Places of Worship Walk in Bangkok

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Bangkok is an old metropolis that has been home to a diverse population of cultures, nationalities and religious beliefs for centuries. While Buddhism is by far the biggest religion, spiritual tolerance has long facilitated the co-existence of other faiths in the Thai capital. In fact, some of the churches are among the most impressive foreign buildings in all of Bangkok. Take our tour to see the...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.4 km
Landmarks Walk in Bangkok

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Before modern times, Thai sculptors focused exclusively on creating images of Buddha, leading to Thailand being one of the world's best locations for Buddhist art. By the end of the 19th Century and the beginning of the 20th Century, Western fashions had begun to influence classical Thai art forms, particularly architecture and sculpture. Take our tour to see the top landmarks of the Thai...  view more

Tour Duration: 3 hour(s)
Travel Distance: 8.0 km

Useful Travel Guides for Planning Your Trip

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Tips for Exploring City on Foot at Your Own Pace

Whether you are in Bangkok for a quick stopover or have a few days to see the city in more detail, exploring it on foot, at your own pace, is definitely the way to go. Here are some tips for you to save money, see the best Bangkok has to offer, take good care of your feet while walking, and keep your mobile device – your ultimate "work horse" on this trip - well fed and safe.

Saving Money with City Passes

To save yourself time and money visiting Bangkok's multiple sights, you may want to resort to the so-called city passes, such as the iVenture Card and Thailand Unlimited Attractions Pass.

A city pass combines all of or multiple Bangkok's top highlights, tours and experiences in one prepaid attractions pass, using which you can save incredible amounts on general admission fees as compared to purchasing tickets separately. Often, a city pass also allows you to skip the lines at major attractions, thus saving you precious time. Some of them you don't even have to pick up but can scan straight on your phone at any of the city's major attractions/museums!

Staying at Walk-Friendly Hotels

Since you're keen on exploring cities on foot (we assume that you are, and this is why you're here), it is important that you stay at a hotel close to the city's major attractions. It saves you time and energy. Here are a few of Bangkok hotels that are conveniently located, but at the same time, also not so ridiculously expensive: The Raweekanlaya Bangkok, Royal Princess Larn Luang, Baan Chart.

Taking Care of Your Feet

To ensure ultimate satisfaction from a day of walking around the city as big as Bangkok, it is imperative to take good care of your feet so as to avoid unpleasant things like blisters, cold or overheated soles, itchy, irritated or otherwise damaged (cracked) skin, etc. Luckily, these days there is no shortage of remedies to address (and, ideally, to prevent) these and other potential problems with feet. Among them: Compression Socks, Rechargeable Battery-Powered Thermo Socks for Cold Weather, Foot Repair Cream, Deodorant Powder, Shoes UV Sterilizer, and many more that you may wish to find a place in your travel kit for.

Travel Gadgets for Your Mobile Device

Your mobile phone or tablet will be your work horse on a self-guided walk. They offer tour map, guide you from one attraction to another, and provide informative background for the sights you wish to visit. Therefore it is absolutely essential to plan against unexpected power outages in the wrong place at the wrong time, much as to ensure the safety of your device.

For these and other contingencies, here's the list of useful appliances: Portable Charger/External Battery Pack, Worldwide Travel Charger Adapter, Power Converter for International Travel Adapter, and Mobile Device Leash.

Exploring City on Guided Tours

We have a strong bias towards exploring a city on foot, at your own pace, because this is how you get to see things up close with a maximum freedom. You decide how much time you wish to spend at each attraction and don't have to worry about following a crowd. That said, however, we also understand that some of you may want to go with a guided tour. If that is your case, here are some guided tours to consider. Be ready to fork out a bit of money, though, as a guided tour of Bangkok typically costs between around US$30 and US$60 or more per person:

- Board a hop-on hop-off bus to enjoy sightseeing of Bangkok in the comfort of a bus, listening in the headsets to the commentary provided in a variety of languages, and be able get on and off at any of the stops along the route. The ticket is valid for one day (24 hrs) and may be upgraded to 48 hrs (Premium) or 72 hrs (Deluxe).

- Take a 3-hour guided walk along the Chao Phraya Riverside to explore the multicultural diversity of Bangkok's historic communities coexisting on the riverbanks for centuries in perfect harmony.

- Spare half a day, whilst in Bangkok, for a private tour of The Grand Palace complex housing tonnes of historic attractions, including Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and many others, led by a knowledgeable local guide.

- No visit to Thailand is complete without savoring local cuisine. Embark on a food tour of Bangkok for a generous dollop of delectable Thai delicacies at some truly unique locations: streets, shops and the hidden gems only the locals know about.

- See Bangkok in a different light from the seat of a tuk-tuk zooming by the city's iconic sites in the cool of the night. This 4-hour night ride will take you to the Chao Phraya River, stopping at several temples, markets and other locations most frequented during daytime.

- Pedal your way around Bangkok on a 4-hour night bike tour to appreciate the city's most spectacular sights in their nighttime ambiance, stopping at each for a bit of rest, watching the surroundings, and learning much about the Thai capital from an informative group leader.

- Explore Bangkok’s suburbia renowned for its lush greenery and traditional crafts. Meet the friendly locals, see the beautiful canal system and a floating market manifesting the local “way of the water” culture.

Day Trips

If you have a day to spare whilst in Bangkok, why not use it to explore some of the out-of-town destinations like Floating Markets and Bridge on the River Kwai, Floating Markets of Damnoen Saduak, Thai–Burma Death Railway Bridge on the River Kwai, Ayutthaya, or Thonburi. For as little as US$40+ to US$120+ per person you will get a chance to discover the highlights of the UNESCO World Heritage sites including centuries-old historic landmarks, see the infamous bridge built by thousands of PoWs during World War Two, get a glimpse of the everyday life on water in Thailand exploring riverside neighborhoods, floating markets, and more. For any of these tours you will be picked up either straight from your hotel or a designated place in Bangkok, and transported either by boat or a private vehicle (whichever is applicable) to the destination of your choice and back again.