ThailandBangkok Free All Year Mostly Outdoor
District

Chinatown (Yaowarat Road)

Centered around the electric Yaowarat Road, Bangkok's Chinatown is a hub of street food and discount shopping contrasted against authentic Chinese restaurants and harmonious heritage sites.

By day, the district is ripe for exploring Buddhist temples, hunting down street art, and shopping up a storm with cheaply priced clothing, jewelry, toys, accessories and more. At night, the district's center becomes a sea of neon lights as food vendors set up the famous Yaowarat Road Street Food Markets. Are you brave enough to eat a fried scorpion?

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Price

Free

Time Spent

1-3hours

Fitness level: Easy

Hours

24 hours7 days

Look Around

Sidewalks may be non-existent, requiring careful walking on the roadSidewalks may be non-existent, requiring careful walking on the road
Side roadSide road
Fried eggs for saleFried eggs for sale
Fresh seafood for saleFresh seafood for sale
Freshly squeezed juiceFreshly squeezed juice
Around Chinatown
Fried grasshopper on a stick - full of proteinFried grasshopper on a stick - full of protein
Something to try at least onceSomething to try at least once
For the more adventurous... scorpions on a stickFor the more adventurous... scorpions on a stick
And many more fried bugs if one is not enoughAnd many more fried bugs if one is not enough
Eating insects
Red iconic archway surrounded by telephone cablesRed iconic archway surrounded by telephone cables
After dark Chinatown lights upAfter dark Chinatown lights up
Vendor selling mango sticky riceVendor selling mango sticky rice
Walking through Chinatown

Who Will Like Chinatown

Food Connoisseur

Visit at night to taste some of Bangkok's most delicious (and most quirky) street food at Yaowarat Road Street Food Market. Try seafood, noodles, dumplings, and even fried crickets or scorpions. Less adventurous diners can retreat to one of the more modern Chinese restaurants along Yaowarat Road.

Culture Buff

See the difference between Thai and Chinese Buddhism by visiting a few of Chinatown's temples, like Wat Traimit Withayaram Worawihan and Wat Mangkon Kamalawat. Explore the district's art scene at the Kung Thai Art Gallery or hunt down street art at Talot Noi.

Retail Therapist

Chase down bargains on clothing, shoes, accessories, jewelry, gadgets and nick-knacks at Sampeng Market, Khlong Thom Flashlight Market, and the Old Siam Plaza, to name a few of Chinatown's most popular shopping hubs.

Bucketlist Bandit

Try a scorpion or grasshopper on a stick at the Yaowarat Road Street Food Market. Apparently they taste like chips.

Insider Tips For Chinatown

Use caution near the road
  • Most vendors at the street food market open around 6:30pm. Visit at night for the best variety of food stalls.
  • The best way to explore Chinatown is to simply walk down its narrow alleys and soak up the atmosphere. Use Google Maps on your smartphone to get back to the center of Yaowarat Road if you get lost.
  • A lively street art scene has popped up in Chinatown since 2016. The best wall murals are located around the southern outskirts of Chinatown, on small alleyways off Song Wat Road and Talot Noi.
  • Watch your bags and pockets as pickpockets are known to frequent the district.
  • While there are a few shops located along Yaowarat Road, the best places for serious shopping are Sampeng Market, Khlong Thom Flashlight Market, and the Old Siam Plaza.
  • Chinatown comes to life during Chinese New Year when it's filled with colorful lanterns, fireworks, and other decorations.

Video

Where Is It

Open map...

Yaowarat Road, Samphanthawong, Bangkok, Thailand

How To Get There

Rideshare

Rideshare drivers pick up and drop off near the center of Yaowarat Road.

Taxi

Be careful of taxi scams in this area. Insist on using the meter.

Boat (Chao Phraya Express BoatRatchawong Pier)

Walk 10 minutes northeast from pier.

Walking directions from boat...

Train (MRTWat Mangkon)

Walk 2 minutes southwest from train station.

Walking directions from train...

BusChina Town Bus Stop

1, 4, 7, 21, 25, 40

Bus stop is located slightly to the west of Yaowarat Road's center.

Walking directions from bus...

BusChina Town Bus Stop 2: Yaowarat Old Market

1, 4, 21, 25, 40

Bus stop is located slightly to the east of Yaowarat Road's center.

Walking directions from bus...

What To Bring

Do:
  • Cash as most food vendors don't take card.
  • Reusable shopping bags if you plan on buying.
  • Hand sanitizer or wipes.
Don't:
  • Valuable belongings like precious jewelry or large amounts of cash.

Tech & Photography

Wifi

Public wifi access: None

Photography

Photography allowed: Yes

Tripod allowed: Not encouraged

Selfie sticks allowed: Yes

Best time to shoot: Blue Hour

Tips: Try to capture a shot of the neon lights down Yaowarat Road, facing northwest at blue hour. Many interesting markets feed off the main street, so be adventurous and explore down as many narrow lanes as possible. You never know what scene you'll find.

Drones

Drones allowed: Not encouraged

Bags

Backpacks allowed: Yes

Secured bag lockers available: No

Food & Drink

There is no shortage of food and drink in Chinatown - expect to see lots of seafood, pork, and insects. Yaowarat Road is lined with a range of dining options from a street food market with vendors selling fried insects, noodles, and dumplings, to casual Chinese restaurants with set menus, to western-orientated Chinese restaurants usually attached to hotels. Thai food like green curry, tom yum, and mango sticky rice are also available.

Backstory

The presence of Bangkok's Chinese population dates back to the late 1700s, when, following the fall of Ayutthaya, King Taksin sought the aid of Teochew merchants in establishing his new capital in Thonburi. In return, he gifted them a large parcel of land on the eastern bank of the Chao Phraya River. Being highly skilled trade merchants, Bangkok's Chinese population thrived and more Chinese immigrated to the shanty town to share the wealth.

When the district was severely damaged by a series of fires during the mid to late 1800's, several new roads were constructed, including "Yuppharat Road", now Yaowarat Road, the district's center. By the early 1900s, Chinatown had become Bangkok's commercial center and also operated a thriving red-light district with nightclubs, gambling, and opium dens.

In the late 1900's many businesses began to move to other districts within Bangkok and Chinatown's wealth gradually declined. Most business choosing to remain around Yaowarat Road were those with strong Chinese roots like Chinese restaurants, temples, and craft stores.

Etiquette

Do:
  • Bargain for a cheaper price on products, but not food.
  • Move calmly and orderly through crowds.
  • Look at food vendors’ aprons and findernails. If they are dirty, move on to a more hygienic stall.
  • Keep hand bags and pockets securely closed as Chinatown's crowded streets are a pickpocket's paradise.
Don't:
  • Be afraid to walk away if you can't agree on a price with a shop vendor.
  • Eat shark fin soup due to the cruel manner the fins are removed.

Scorecard

Best Parts:
  • Street food. Weird and wacky things to try.
  • Electric atmosphere at night.
  • Range of Chinese restaurants from street food stalls to almost-fine-dining.
  • Cheap shopping. Clothes, fabrics, gadgets, toys, watches and more at bargain prices.
Could Be Better:
  • Large crowds especially around street food stalls.
  • Often low-quality clothing products for sale.
  • Slightly more expensive street food than other areas of Bangkok.
My itinerary Save View

Oh, you're so close

The awesome itinerary feature is only for VIP Members.

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Joining only takes a minute and it's... um... free! Plus you get other perks like badges, points, and unicorns.

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