Sight-Seeing : China Town
China town is situated in one of the oldest areas of Bangkok. Originally, it was gradually settled up by Chinese traders who came by junks to trade with Siam during the Sukhothai era. By the end of 1891, King Rama V had several more roads cut through the area, which are Songwat Road, Phatsai Road, Anuwong Road and Yaowarat Road. Therefore, China town does not consist only Yaowarat Road, but also cover some other roads: Charoen Krung Road, Songwat Road, Songsawat Road, Chakkrawat Road and the Wanit 1 area. However, Yaowarat Road is the center of the area. According to the Feng-Shui principle, the shape of Yaowarat Road is curvy like the dragon’s curvy body, making it an ideal location for business. Many prospering businesses in Thailand originated and are still thriving in this age-old downtown. What visitors can find here vary from leading gold shops, textiles, garments, souvenirs, second-hand parts and equipment, electric goods, computer parts, antiques, imported musical instrument and definitely local delicacies. In this year of 2003, it will be the 111th anniversary of this legendary road.
Attractions in Yaowarat
1. Yaowarat Road
It is the home to Chinese communities in Bangkok. Visitors will be able to glimpse the Chinese ways of life and experience the wonderful food at many restaurants on both sides of the road. It is also a good place from where to buy gold place from where to buy gold and jewellery. The road is closed from Odian Circle to Lampang Chai Intersection.
2. Wat Trimit Wittayaram
Your spiritual search for wealth should naturally head to the word’s biggest golden Buddha image at Wat traimit which is located on Charoen Krung Rd. Cast more than 700 years ago, this gleaming 4 metre high 13th century Sukhothai image is made of 18 carat gold and weighs five tons. The impressive gold figure was hidden under a plaster coating for ages. No one knew what was inside until the coating accidentally slipped revealing an inner glow. With the gold Buddha image in its main hall, Wat traimit is now often referred to as the Temple of the Golden Buddha image , people can pray for brisk trade and successful business.
3. ChinaTown Gate
Chinatown Gate is a Chinese style gate at Odean Circle on the east end of Yaowarat Road, the main road through Samphathawong, the Chinatown district of Bangkok. The gate is often called Odean Gate after the Odean cinema which used to stand nearby. It was built as part of the celebrations of King Bhumibol Adulyadejs 72s birthday. The words on the gate says “Sheng Shou Wu Jiang”, which translate as “Long Live the King”.
4. Guan Yim Shrine
From the commemorative Gateway facing Yaowarat Rd., we can see the Shrine of the Merciful Kuan-yin on the lift, right in front of the Tienfa Foundation Hospital. This one-acre hospital was built between 1903 and 1905 by six Chinese men. Rama V came to the inauguration of the hospital.
Inside the hospital stand Chinese mythological figures belived to provide magical healing and blessing to children and patients: Hua-Tho Siang-sue. Pae Kong-Pae Ma, and Thi-kong.
5. Wat Mangkon Kamalawat
Start the trek with our homage to Thai-Suai-la for good fortune at Wat Leng-noei-yi, opposite Issaranuphap Lane. Established by Achan Hok-Seng in 1871, it was the biggest Mahayana temple at the time.
A shop owner sitting by the temple grinding pepper 50 years ago has become Nguan-Soon, the country’s leading herbs exporter.
Both Thais and Chinese come to pay homage to Chinese deities at this temple opens daily, 8 .M.- 4 P.M.
6. SamPheng Market
The Sampeng Market, situated en-route Chinatown, offers an assortment of clothes, Chinese medicine, flip-flops, toys, household items, medicinal herbs, gold, shark fin, Chinese tea and medicines, socks, wallets, CDs and almost anything else you might imagine can be found here in true riot of colorful shops that maintain a blend of Thai and Chinese culture. It’s small lanes and alleyways haven’t stopped tourists from visiting the place especially those who want to see the real Thailand and not its glitzy and glamorous malls. The open-air stalls, which lend a rather open and casual atmosphere to the place, sell some great traditional Thai food to fair prices. Blaring.
Yaowarat Tram – China Town
Bangkok has been admired as being a beautiful city, making it one of the world’s top tourist destinations. The “charm” of diverse and unique tourist attractions, combined with modernity and convenience, has been favored by tourists from around the world.
Thailand, encouraging foreign tourists to touch upon tourist attractions in diverse aspects and various atmospheres of “Bangkok’s charm”, particularly the route with a long history parallel with the Rattanakosin period called “Yaowarat”.
The Yaowarat district has long been resided by Chinese merchants before the roads were built according to the policy of road construction in flourish areas to promote trade during the reign of King Rama V. No matter how longtime passed by, Yaowarat has still been Bangkok’s important commercial center, which is always full of a diversity of arts, cultures, beliefs, and religions.
Visitors are able to not only absorb historical value, but also taste various kinds of food, enjoy shopping, and worship the shrines for luck.
The China Town Sightseeing
(Please Note : Yaowarat Sightseeing Tram is no longer available)
tram route and the tourist attractions Tram Schedule: 11 a.m. -10 p.m. Saturday – Sunday
Tram Stop 1: Hualamphong – Soi Porisapa
The beginning of the Yaowarat tram route
Traveling around Yaowarat by tram is very convenient. Just take the MRT to the Hualumphong Station and use the exit opposite to the Hualumphong Station. After that, cross Mahaprutaram Road and you will find the ticket-selling booth. Walk along the road to get on the tram at Soi Porisapa. Then get ready to enter Thailand’s Chinatown.
Klong Phadung Krung Kasem
Klong Phadung Krung Kasem is the city moat which was dug in the reign of King Rama IV. King Rama IV gave the order to dig this moat in 2394 B.E. since His Majesty the King considered that the city had flourished and the number of population had been increased. Therefore, the city should be expanded. His Majesty the King was kind enough to appoint Somdet Chaophraya Borom Maha Si Suriyawong (Chuang Bunnak), acting for Military Vizier, as the commander, and Chamuen Waivoranaj as the chief to hire Chinese labors to dig the new city moat in the suburb area, next to the old one. The moat was begun to dig near Dhevarajkunchon Temple (Samor Krang Temple) in the Theves area. It was parallel with the old city moat, passing the Hualumphong area and cutting across Mahanak Canal to join Chaophraya River near Kaewchamfa Temple, Si Phraya. This moat was finished in 2395 B.E.-1852 and was titled “Klong Phadung Krung Kasem”. This canal was cut across Mahanak Canal at the Mahanak junction, which is an important commercial center. It also passes the Hualumphong area, Mahaprutaram Temple (formerly called Tha Gwean Temple). At the time when this canal was dug, it was 20 meters wide, 3 meters deep, and 5.5 kilometers long.
In the past, there were 3 royal pig slaughterhouses, located on the land rented from the Privy Purse Bureau in Hualumphong Sub-district. They were used for keeping pigs transported by train and ship before being sold to butchers in Bangkok. The slaughterhouses were located here so that pigs would be transported conveniently. When pigs brought from other provinces were taken out of a truck, they could be brought to the slaughterhouses conveniently. If they were transported by ship, the ship could take a short cut through Klong Phadung Krung Kasem and pigs would be debarked near the slaughterhouses. Later, a road was constructed along the wall of Wat Traimit, from Charoen Krung Road to Krung Kasem Road. Between Klong Hualumphong or Klong Phadung Krung Kasem and the road beside Wat Traimit was an alley with wooden roll houses, called “Hualumphong Pig Slaughterhouse”. Nowadays, this alley has a lot of restaurants serving delicious food.
Tram Stop 2: Thianfa Foundation
The tram will pass Sino-Thai Friendship Road and run towards the Odean Circle, which is the 2nd station. The tourist attractions here are as follows:
The Arch Commemorating the 6th Cycle Birthday Anniversary
This arch was built to honor His Majesty the King on the auspicious occasion of his 6th cycle birthday anniversary in 2542 B.E. by cooperation between the BMA and the Thai-Chinese community. It symbolizes loyalty of the Thai-Chinese community living under his patronage. For good fortune, His Majesty the King named it as “The Arch Commemorating the 6th Cycle Birthday Anniversary”, and gave a royal permission to install the official emblem for His Majesty the King’s 6th Cycle Birthday Anniversary at the top of the arch. Apart from its beauty, the area around the arch is also a place absorbing the power of heaven and earth (because it is the intersection of the roads in this area).
Thianfa Foundation Hospital orTian Hua Aui Yi has provided medical services, both modern medicine and Chinese medicine, for more than 100 years. It was established by the strong intention of 5 language groups of Chinese merchants in the era of so-called “one mat one pillow” in order to help poor patients. It is considered as the first foundation in Thailand. In the foundation’s wooden building sits 400-year-old Guan Yin Goddess in the blessed standing style, which was carved from sandalwood and covered with the beautiful Indian-style dress. It has been told that this Guan Yin Goddess is very sacred. Many patients who could not be cured elsewhere drank water dissolved with powder of joss sticks used to worship Guan Yin Goddess. Then their illness was unbelievably recovered. Therefore, there are a lot of people coming to worship Guan Yin Goddess continually.
Siang Gong Shrine
Inside the shrine places God who is believed to protect people in the community. The name of the shrine was derived from the word used to call God with honor. This name is also used to call the community living in this area. The structure of the current shrine is the newly built building. When considering the old map of this area, it is found that the shrine was moved slightly from the previous location. Evidence found in the shrine reveals the history of constructing the old joss house, which is more than 100 years old.
U-phai Rajabumrung Temple (Wat Yuan Taladnoi)
The former name of this temple is Wat Yuan Taladnoi, because it was built by Vietnamese immigrants in the reign of King Rama I. The current name “U-phai Rajabumrung Temple” means the temple which was preserved by the 2 kings, since it was renovated during the reign of King Rama IV and King Rama V continued renovating it. King Rama V was also kind enough to give the sprout of Phra Sri Maha Bodhi as well as soil and water for growing it. Until the present, this tree has still stood strongly against rain in front of the temple for more than 100 years. In addition to the tourist attractions stated above, if you still have time left, you can walk along Soi Yaowarat I to buy Chinese goods and various kinds of fresh food in Talad Noi – the bustling market since the old days. Or you can walk to Siang Gong, the center of second-hand engines and molten iron. If you walk along Soi Yaowarat II, you can also go to worship Guan Yin Goddess, Tuptim Goddess Shrine, Zu Shi Gong, and Ben Tou Gong at Han Yun Gong Shrine.
Tram Stop 3: Old Market (Talad Kao)
Taking the tram along Yaowarat Road until it reaches the 3rd station, you will see many more historical sites, such as :
The ancient market of almost 150 years old, located on the side of Yaowarat Road, was formerly the market wholesaling fish and fresh seafood from paddle boats which transported their products to the harbor around Songwad Road. Head chefs from leading restaurants would come to choose fish here. At present, this market is also famous for having fresh fish to be chosen more than other markets. If you come here, you must visit and worship the shrine of Guan U, the God of Virtue. You should also pray for the Horse God’s blessing for being a master with good subordinates. In addition, you should not miss tasting various kinds of delicious food in the restaurants along the two sides of the road. There is a lot of food you can choose to taste as you please.
Wanit I Road (Sampheng)
Apart from being the center of cheap goods, Sampheng Market also has a long history parallel with the establishment of Bangkok. This is because Sampheng Market is Bangkok’s oldest Chinese community. It has existed since the reign of King Rama I, and has been a major factor that creates stability of the country’s new economic system. It is unbelievable that the road which is only 4-5 meters wide and 1 kilometer long will consist of more than 100 shops and crowded with about 10,000 people everyday. There are a lot of products sold here. From the starting point at Wanit I Road, on the left is the old building of “Tang Tho Kang”, the oldest gold shop aged more than 100 years old. From here, on the left are many shops selling umbrellas, shoes, handbags, hats, ribbons, stationary, ropes, and sacks. These shops are owned by Indian-Thai people who have run their businesses for more than 70 years. On the right side is the route of shops selling souvenirs, toys, goods for teenagers, and goods for festivals. There is the oldest Chinese pharmacy called “Tai An Tung”, which has been operated for three generations. Moreover, there are a 70-year-old gold shop named “Mae Gim Lung”, and various shops selling fresh fruits, preserved fruits.baked bread, snacks, etc.
Bumpenchinprot Temple (Yong Fu Si)
This is the smallest temple in the Yaowarat area. It is located in Tao Street, with the space of only one commercial building. This temple used to be the deserted shrine of Guan Yin Goddess. Then it had been renovated until becoming Bumpenchinprot Temple at present, and it was named by King Rama V. The attraction of this temple is the 18 Buddha images and Buddhist saints which were built by the traditional Chinese arts method called Tok Sa. These Buddha images were constructed by using bamboos as the structure, bound with grass cloths or leather. Then they were covered with lacquer and gold, similar to paper mache in the present day. These Buddha images are not less beautiful than metal cast or stucco Buddha images at all.
From this area, you can walk along Yaowapanich Road to visit Pei Ying School, an old Chinese school aged more than 80 years old. The school building, built in the Colonial architectural style, is so beautiful that it won the prize of Outstanding Traditional Building. If you walk along Phadsai Road, you can worship Guan Yin Goddess at Ah Nia Geng Shrine. The original Guan Yin Goddess of this shrine was carved wood, sitting on the large lotus base invited from China.
Tram Stop 4: Mangkorn Kamalawat Temple
After reaching the end of Yaowarat Road, the tram will take you into Charoen Krung Road to visit the tourist attractions which are interesting in another aspect.
Mangkorn Kamalawat Temple (Wat Leng Noei Yi)
This temple is called shortly as Wat Mangkorn or usually called by people as Wat Leng Noei Yi. Built in the reign of King Rama V, according to Feng Shui, it was the largest Mahayana temple in Thailand at that time. Inside the temple are 58 gods to ask for blessings. Inside the temple are 58 gods to ask for blessings. Those whom people like to ask for blessings are “Tai Sui Ye” or the God of Fate, “Cai Shen Ye” or the God of Fortune, Heng Jia God, Mettraiyabhodisat God, and Guan Yin Goddess. This temple is considered as the first place for worshipping Gods which Thai people think about. Therefore, there are always a lot of people coming to get rid of bad luck and ask for good luck.
It is a private temple of the Dhammayutika Sect. It was constructed in the garden of Mrs. Gleeb Sakornwasi, Phra Darunraksa’s (Kan Sakornwasi) mother. She built this temple during the end of King Rama IV’s reign in 2407 B.E. Mr. Kan was a courtier of King Rama IV. Therefore, this temple was named “Kanmatuyaram” which means the temple of Mr. Kan’s mother. Inside the temple, there is a Langka bell-shaped pagoda which was imitated from Thammekka Pagoda in India.
Leng Buai Yia Market
From Plangnarm Road heading towards Charoen Krung Road, turn left and walk backward along the railroad for 100 meters, pass the pink wedding shop to Soi Charoen Krung 16, then you will arrive at the 90-year-old Leng Buai Yia market. This new market is mainly for selling vegetables, because Chinese people grow vegetables and sell them in this area. Later, most vegetables are sold at Pak Klong, so this new market has been slightly stagnant. However, this market still has all food ingredients and goods for making a sacrifice to Gods in various festivals. In addition, this street has Leng Buai Yia Shrine which is Yaowarat’s oldest shrine aged more than 350 years old. There is evidence that this shrine was built since the mid -Ayutthaya Period. It enshrines Leng Buai Yia God who is highly respected by Chinese people. Chinese people like to write their names and surnames or their wishes on red cloths, and then bind the cloths with the altar’s legs in order to be under the care of Gods.
Tram Stop 5: Kwong Siew Hospital
The tram runs along Charoen Krung Road until reaching the last station in the middle of Charoen Krung Road. The tourist attractions in this area are as follows:
Guang Dong Shrine (Kwong Siew Foundation)
This shrine is the only Guang Dong Shrine in Thailand. This 130-year-old shrine was built in the traditional Chinese architectural style. Formerly, it was the meeting place of Guang Dong people who emigrated from China. Later, they raised funds for building this Chinese religious place by using construction materials mainly from China. Even the images of Gods in this shrine were also invited from their homeland. Gods who are highly respected include Guan U God, Kong Zi God, Lu Ban God, and Ngek Sian Hong Tae. These gods have the influence in education, craftsmanship, handicraft, and morality.
The original name of this temple is “Wat Mai Yai Fang”, following the name of its founder. This private temple of the Mahanikaya Sect was built in the reign of King Rama III. According to the inscription on the base of Yai Fang’s statue, “Kanikaphol Temple” was built in 2376 B.E. by Mother Fang, the ancestor of the Paorohit family. It is assumed that this statue was constructed in the reign of King Rama V, since the temple’s name was changed from Wat Mai Yai Fang to Kanikaphol in the reign of King Rama V.
Poh Teck Tung Foundation (Da Feng Zu Shrine)
“Da Feng Zu Shrine” is located opposite to Plubplachai Police Station. It is well known as Poh Teck Tung Foundation, established by Dr. Utain Techapaiboon for arranging cremation for unidentified corpses. This is another place where a lot of people come to make merit and get rid of their bad fortune as well as to extend their lives by donating money to buy coffins. However, before making merit, you must worship Da Feng Zu God first. According to legend, he was a priest who became a sacred God to help the deprived.
This short road connecting Charoen Krung Road and Yaowarat Road is full of the trace of Chinese civilization. When you walk past Mongkol Smakhom Temple (Wat Yuan) and the pharmacy selling traditional Chinese drugs, Guang Jiab Xia which is the shop selling and repairing traditional Chinese musical instruments is on your right. You may be lucky to hear beautiful sound of Chinese dulcimer or Gu Zheng if you pass the shop when they are repairing musical instruments and practicing playing music. Nearby is Liang Guang Panich, which is the 70-year-old shop selling antique Thai and foreign lamps. At the end of the street, there is a boiled rice restaurant aged more than 80 years old. Nowadays, it is open 24 hours. Almost all of these old shops still preserve their old-time atmosphere.
Tram Stop 6: Traimit Temple – Odean Circle
Traimit Wittayaram Worawiharn Temple (Wat Samchin)
This is an ancient temple without clear evidence of its construction. There is only legend that 3 Chinese friends built this temple together, so it is called “Wat Samchin”. But what has made this temple well-known is Phra Sukhothai Traimit. This ancient Buddha image was built in the Sukhothai Period and was originally stucco. However, when it was invited to enshrine in this temple’s Buddha image hall, its plaster was accidentally cracked, revealing yellow gold inside. Hence, it was found that this Buddha image was made of solid gold. It becomes the world’s largest golden Buddha image, weighing about 5 tons. Later it was given the name by King Bhumipol Adulyadej as “Phra Buddha Maha Suwanpatimakorn”.
Yaowarat Road was constructed in 2435 B.E.-1892 by King Rama IV. His Majesty the King issued the order to build this road for the benefit and progress of the country. According to an announcement made by the Department of Public Works on January 30th, 2435 B.E.-1892, “His Majesty the King has commanded the Department of Public Works to build a new road between the Charoen Krung and Sampheng Road from Mahachai Fort in the southeast direction to join Charoen Krung Road at Wat Samchin Bridge. This road is to be 1,430 meters long and 21 meters wide, with a 14-meter roadway and with a 3-meter pavement along both sides. His Majesty the King has graciously named it Yaowarat Road”. When this road was first built, there was a high concentration of Chinese people in the area. It was the trading center for quality goods and was the location of the tallest building in Bangkok then. At present, Yaowarat Road still retains its business supremacy and Thai-Chinese people’s traditional way of life. Yaowarat is the most concentrated Thai-Chinese community in Thailand and is an important tourist attraction, known as “Chinatown”.
Bangkok Tourism Division
Culture, Sports and Tourism Department
17/1 Pra Artit Road, Phra Nakom, Bangkok 10200