Chinatown is one of the most colourful districts of Bangkok and this is a great place to indulge in delicious street food and do a little sightseeing. Chinatown is also a popular shopping district among people who are looking for bargains on items such as wholesale shoes, toys, Thai silk and souvenirs, and people who are able to barter hard will find some real bargains shopping in Chinatown Bangkok.
Yaowarat & Sampaeng
This road runs through the heart of Chinatown and is lined with stalls that sell packs of goods as well as a number of small shops. Also nearby is Sampaeng Lane, which is a tiny network of tiny sois where wholesale merchants ply their wares. Although Sampaeng Lane can be rather crowded on the weekends and in the evening, people who venture along here during the week will be greeted by the site of one of Bangkok’s oldest neighbourhoods where treasures lie around every twist and turn.
Shoppers will soon notice that many of the items for sale in Chinatown do not have a fixed price marked on them. This is because bartering is all part of the fun of shopping in Chinatown. While it make take a little longer to reach the final price, people who have the time and patience to engage in bartering can scoop up some great deals. However, the merchants here can be very persistent, so do not start bartering unless you are serious about buying something.
Best buys in Chinatown
Some of the best buys in Chinatown include clothing, shoes, hair ornaments, souvenirs and herbal medicines. Many of the shops here also sell rolls of high quality fabric, which people can take to a local tailor to have made into the garments of their choice.
Most Chinatown merchants set up their stalls at around 10:00 and close at 19:00, although the largest selection of stalls can usually be found around midday. Shoppers should note that there are few public toilets in the Chinatown district and people who are caught short may be forced to slip into one of the area’s large hotels to use their facilities.
As the sun sets over Chinatown, the district’s food sellers start to set up their stalls. The largest number of food stalls can be found along Yaowarat Road and nearby Charoen Krung Road. Grabbing a bowl of noodles or some seafood at one of these street side stalls is a good way to take a break from shopping while indulging in a little people watching.
The colourfully named Thieves Market opens every evening at the western end of Sampeng Lane. The stalls here specialise in antiques as well as second hand goods and this is a good place to shop for cheap cameras, torches and other used items.
The most scenic way to reach Chinatown is by taking the Skytrain to Saphan Taksin station and then catching the ferry to Ratchawong Pier. Visitors then walk along Sampaeng Lane, which will lead the way to Yaowarat Road. Traffic in Chinatown can be very heavy, so it is best to avoid taking a taxi or a bus. The district is also just a five minute walk from the Hua Lamphong subway station, and this is perhaps the fastest way to reach Chinatown if you are starting from the heart of Bangkok.