Experience all of the wonders of 5 Hours Classical tour by cycling through Chinatown’s agitated market atmosphere. We take our bike travelling through narrow alleyways and small side streets. Then allow classic longtail boats to transport us further into rural Bangkok. Discover why this city is often designated “Venice of the East” as our cruise introduces us to the charming canal lifestyle of Thais, very much like it existed in bygone eras. Scenes of classical wooden-framed homes on stilts, mothers doing their daily washings, and children splashing away the tropical heat will captivate us with their innocence and congeniality.
Following this pleasant break, our cycle tour continues through luscious green belts as we explore the forgotten plantations of this great city. Surprising not in their beauty, however in their proximity to the sprawling metropolis, this tranquil ride will leave us pleasantly rested for our equally attractive journey back to Chinatown.
• Experience Local Guide to travel at Chinatown in Bangkok by bike
• Mountain Bike OR Standard city bike
• Child/Adult Helmets (If desired)
• Refreshing Drinks en route
• Ferry river crossing
• Long-tail boat rider
• Local style light meal
Exclude: Personal expenses and Other services not mentioned on this program
• Meeting Point: River City
• Duration 5 Hours / Distance 15 KM.
• Moderate cycling skills required
• Suitable for Children over 5 Years old
Bangkok Chinatown is a district south of the Grand Palace, bounded on one side by the Chao Phraya and Charoen Krung Road on the other. It is rarely walked by foreign visitors, though it is one of the most exciting ethnic enclaves in Bangkok. Hidden behind the main streets, which now carry the dull look of modernization, are gaudily decorated temples filled with Taoist monks, creaky old pharmacies offering traditional Chinese medicines, gold shops piled high with chains and necklaces, and narrow alleys packed with all forms of street markets and peddlers of bric-a’-brac.
Chinatown in Bangkok is also one of the oldest districts of the city, dating back to the late 18th century. When they were cleared from the land on which Rama I intended to build his Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaeo, the Chinese merchants moved their shops southward. The first businesses were established along narrow Sampeng Lane, which doubled as a commercial zone during the day and an opium district at night. Most of the illicit operations have closed down, though sufficient sights and smells remain to make this one of the most exotic corners of the city.
Chinatown, however, is not as neighborhood for the faint-hearted or anyone who dislikes seething, frenetic, jam-packed quarters, where the scattered attractions and kaleidoscopic chaos make for a difficult walking tour. Probably the most convenient introduction and starting point is Ratachawong Pier (The Ratchawong), from where you can walk up Ratachawong Road past several banks to the following attractions. You can turn right to walk down romantic Sampeng Lane, visit the famous Golden Buddha at Wat Traimit, and return up the more commercialized Charoen Krung Road. Be prepared to make lots of trips up the side lanes to visit temples and other historic structures, and remember, it’s the small details of Chinatown that make it just about the most interesting section of Bangkok—far more intriguing and culturally rewarding than the shopping centers and modern high-rises that now characterize so much of this rapidly changing city.
Boonsamakan Vegetarian Hall (Krai Soi) is a small and very peaceful, old yellow temple containing magnificent examples of Chinese woodcarving. The carvings are seen in the entrance porch and around the altars inside, and depict dragons and other mythological Chinese creatures. There are also miniature reproductions of traditional opera scenes and tile work gaily painted to portray Chinese legends. Octagonal doors on each side of the main altars lead into auxiliary chambers, including crypts and private rooms of worship.
The temple comes to active life once a year in the fall, during the Vegetarian Festival, to honor the nine chief deities. Traveling opera troupes perform at this time on the stage opposite the main entrance.
Sampeng Lane, also known as Soi Sampeng or Soi Wainit 1, runs parallel with the river. Built in the 1870s, it was the first street in Bangkok Chinatown. It offers an authentic experience to all the senses and some unusual shops. It is far too narrow for regular traffic but perfect for pedestrians—who must make their way through the piles of merchandise that spill out from the intriguing old shop-fronts, dodging the porters who madly haul their heavy loads. Fabric markets and clothing merchants predominate, and at the western end of the lane is the fabulous Pahurat Cloth Market, full of exotic silks and batiks.
Tang To Kang Gold Shop, a teetering but impressive seven-story structure designed by a Dutchman, was the original gold exchange for the neighborhood.
The Kun Do Shrine on Soi Isara Nuphap features a large grinning glided horse head that is said to bring luck to those who bring him offerings of vegetables.
Talaad Kao, or Old Market, (Soi 16) is best visited in the early morning, when Chinese merchants and housewives come to trade all manner of produce, poultry, and fresh seafood. Come here before 10 a.m. to catch the best action of the day. Lanternmaking, an old tradition that has now largely disappeared from Thailand, survives in the small alley off Soi Isara Nuphap.
Map of Bangkok Chinatown