Chinatown is a must-see for travellers to Bangkok, its markets, temples and the always crowded Yaowarat street are worth a visit, chiefly at sunset when the lighted signs and posters create a unique atmosphere, a bit of China in Bangkok.
It is also an opportunity to learn a little about people who are probably also your neighbours, the Chinese of the diaspora.
To get here you can travel by taxi or tuk-tuk, but first, take a look at the map to see if your hotel is near the Chao Phraya River or the Subway MRT. In the first case, you can catch an Express Boat to pier 5 Ratchawongse and in the second, take the MRT subway to Hua Lamphong or Wat Mangkon station.
Table of Contents
The origin of the Chinatown
Chinese merchants have been present in Thailand for many centuries, where their knowledge about the trade was advantageous in a mainly agricultural country, contributing to creating wealth.
They have always been appreciated as workers due to their proven diligence.
In the second half of the eighteenth century the King Taksin’s father was Chinese, a Teochew originally from Guangdong province, and during his reign a large number of Chinese immigrants settled in the current Rattanakosin district of Bangkok.
At the end of the century, the first king of a new dynasty, King Rama I, moved the Chinese community to the present-day location in order to build the Grand Palace instead.
This area is known as Sampheng, one of the largest shopping centres in the capital.
The Chinese Diaspora
In Southeast Asia as a whole there are more than 20 million Chinese as part of the diaspora, immigrants who have traditionally participated of the entire scale of jobs and professions available, but who never had access to certain activities reserved only for the natives of the countries, such as the high public administration, politics and the army.
To compensate for this disadvantage, the Chinese community focused on some economic areas in which they could stand out and get higher echelons of power, for instance merchants and financiers. In the absence of other supports, they relied on their own strengths.
From the beginning, the keys to success were the bonds with the People’s Republic of China and the personal and family relationships that united them in the distance.
This is very interesting because it allowed them to undertake business worldwide only by their own means and what really matters in this formula was not so much the skills and knowledge, the ‘know-how’, as who you know, the ‘know-who‘, in addition to the blood ties.
It has been their strength for many centuries, that is to say, the networks of relations of the extended Chinese families have been the pillars of the economy of the Chinese diaspora, and it has a name, it’s called ‘guanxi‘.
They always think of the long-term, and a good reputation is a significant value.
If during the visit to Chinatown you look inside a restaurant, you will probably be able to watch families composed of three or even four generations around the table. Also, photos on the wall of the most recent ancestors and that always have a small shrine with figures depicting the whole Chinese ancestors.
Extended families that share values such as devotion to work, savings, self-sufficiency and austerity while fortune arrives.
The Chinese are big savers, prefer the security and feel an aversion to uncertainty, so what better than gold for their investments. For this reason, you will see that stores that sell gold are trendy.
To tasting some tropical fruits like rambutan or durian you will find them at the street food stalls, but if you are planning to have lunch or dinner at a restaurant, we suggest three typical dishes deemed delicacies: swift bird’s nest soup, maw fish soup and the delicious roasted duck.
Tea in China is much more than a drink with certain qualities, it is an art, it is the result of a long tradition and it is, above all, a ceremony. In the Chinatown there are two places where you can enjoy tea and its ritual. Double Dogs in the center of Yaowarat Avenue and Cha Prasert Teahouse five minutes away from Chinatown, a little further and a little cheaper.
Phra Buddha Maha Suwanna Patimakorn or The Golden Buddha in Wat Traimit
Opening hours: 08h00 – 17h00. Admission fee: 40 baht.
This fine work of art from the time of the Sukhothai dynasty, in the thirteenth century, and today is housed in the Wat Traimit of Chinatown. There are historical references about a golden Buddha within the Wat Mahathat of Sukhothai, surely the same.
A solid gold Buddha in the position called ‘subduing Mara‘ elaborated according to the Sukhothai style.
It measures 313 centimetres wide by 398 high and weighs 5,5 tons… of gold!
Due to frequent looting or a situation of high risk, those responsible for its care decided to hide it under a layer of plaster and paint.
What is surprising is that a work of art of such magnitude and value was wholly lost and forgotten. Something terrible had to happen!
Probably it had some relation to the debacle of Ayutthaya, capital of the Kingdom of Siam, which in 1767 fell defeated by the Burmese enemies, a human and cultural tragedy.
In any case, fortunately, the trick succeeded.
In 1955 during the maintenance works in the temple in which the Buddha was kept, the support they used for its transfer failed and then its gilded interior was discovered.
To distinguish the features of the Sukhothai style, you can observe the following traits:
– The oval shape of the face.
– The twisted strands of hair.
– A halo in the form of a flame.
– Long, arched eyebrows that join the bridge of the nose.
– Prominent nose.
– Refined lips suggest a soft smile.
– The tunica appears folded over the left shoulder and then bifurcates to extend to the stomach.
Chinese Traditional Medicine
Attention! This information is not sufficiently verified, its usefulness is to give clues.
If you are interested in any of the products, you have to investigate and seek expert advice before purchasing and using any of them.
The use of natural products as a remedy for different ailments of human beings has been a constant since ancient times. The knowledge accumulated over thousands of years is now projected into traditional Chinese medicine.
Ya Bam Rung Rang Kai
A curative mixture of 70 herbs for tincture.
Normalizes metabolism. Stabilizes blood pressure. Treats chronic fatigue syndrome. Cleans the kidneys. Restores the body after illnesses and operations. Cleans the blood vessels from cholesterol. Improves potency.
Ya Mong Sud Pai (Yellow balm)
Thai herb balm that consists of various natural oils and herbs. Accelerates the healing of bones after fractures. Relieves pain after muscle sprains, ligament ruptures and other injuries. Helps with fatigue and swelling of the legs. Removes heaviness in the legs.
Ya Mong Sarad Pang Pon (Green balm)
Contains various natural origin oils (from wild-growing herbs seeds). Has a cooling effect. Prevention and treatment of vasculature and varicosity strengthens the vascular wall. Helps to prevent back pain (spine). Relieves headaches. Recommended for protrusion, intervertebral hernia, neuralgia. Improves blood circulation. Has an anti-inflammatory action. Relieves aching, dull and constant pain.
Jiao Gu Lan. The secret of Thai youth.
It has adaptogenic and antioxidant properties. Effective in regulating blood pressure, lowering cholesterol and improving stamina stimulating the immune system. Normalizes the metabolism. Slows down the ageing process and increases energy and vitality. Tightens the skin, giving it freshness and youthfulness.
Kwao Krua Dang. Vitamins for men.
Improves potency and treats erectile dysfunction. Enhances sexual attraction. Removes fatigue and high blood pressure and normalizes blood cholesterol. Slows down hair loss and promotes skin rejuvenation. It is excellent for the prevention and treatment of prostatitis.
Kwao Krua Khao. Vitamins for women
Enhances immunity, improves the condition of the hormonal system of the female body and normalizes the menstrual cycle. It also refreshes and rejuvenates the skin making it smoother, improving the complexion, preventing the formation of wrinkles, strengthens the hair and nails and improves hair growth. Tightens the muscles of the breast and makes it more elastic.
It is used in the treatments of diseases of the stomach and duodenum (gastritis, colitis, ulcers). Has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and detoxifying properties. Normalizes the secretions of the stomach. Covers the walls of mucous membranes, heals wounds and sores. Quickly relieves inflammations of the pancreas.
Far Talay Jone
Antipyretic, anti-inflammatory remedy for the treatment of colds, viral respiratory infections, acute respiratory infections, tonsillitis, pharyngitis, acute and chronic bronchitis, and for the treatment of asthma.
Prik Thai Dam. The remedy for weight loss.
Burns subcutaneous fat by speeding up the metabolism. Thins the blood and removes gases from the intestine, has a diuretic effect, removes oedema and has a positive effect on the heart. The maximum effect is achieved in combination with medications cleaning the liver and regulating the intestinal activity.
Natural Face Mask
Clears the seated pores of the facial skin. Relieves inflammation. Removes age spots and freckles. Slow down the ageing of the skin. Refreshes the facial skin.
Luk Tai Bai
The remedy for the treatment of liver diseases.
Detoxifies the liver. Has hepato-tropic and hepato-protective effect. It is used to treat medicinal intoxication and poisoning, liver cirrhosis and chronic hepatitis. It is used in the treatment of the liver candidiasis and thrombophlebitis.
Helps with food and alcohol poisoning. Relieves withdrawal (hangover) syndrome.
It is used to normalize blood pressure, lower cholesterol and blood sugar levels, prevent vessel atherosclerosis, heart attacks and strokes.
Pet Sang Kad
The remedy against haemorrhoids and varicose veins. Removes congestion in the tissues. It is used to treat haemorrhoids. Improves the condition after 3-4 days of taking it. Cleans the valves of the veins.
Reduces swelling and pain of hemorrhoidal bolus and effectively prevents their formation. Strengthens the vascular wall.
Ya Nam Ma Krud
Extracted from the herbs. Removes toxins and poisons from the body. Promotes a rush of vitality. Decreases fatigue and increases efficiency. Strengthens the immune system. It is also useful for women during menopause. Recommended for reproductive problems of both women and men.
Tao Wan Peng
The remedy for hypertension treatment. Reduces high blood pressure. Cleans the walls of blood vessels from cholesterol and improves blood circulation. It is used to strengthen the vascular wall.
Bum Roong Tai
Kidney nourishment, kidney cleaning, activated kidney for normal working, normalize urine, drives out nephroliths from the kidney.
Phoom-Phae (skin allergy)
Use for dermal allergic reactions treatment, skin mycotic affections, dermal eruptions. Skin sensitivity reduces, taking out skin itch.
Ya Ra Bai
The remedy to clean intestines. Restores intestinal peristalsis. Gently cleans the intestines from faeces or stones, removes toxins, while not causing harm to the body. Restores the intestinal flora and eliminates putrefaction bacteria. Promotes weight loss.
Pae Ku Oi
Helps to restore the functions of the brain (the effects of a stroke, traumatic brain injury, old age). It improves memory and concentration and also is for young adults. Reduces the risk of blood clots. Reduces the risk of heart attacks and strokes. Improves blood circulation in the microvasculature not only of the brain but also of the periphery.
Ya Kae Bau Wan
The remedy for the treatment of diabetes. Works in the cells on a par with insulin activates the perceiving receptor. Reduces the level of sugar in the blood. Lowers blood levels of fats and ‘bad’ cholesterol and neutralizes free radicals.