Chinatown is located in one of the oldest areas of Bangkok.
It represents the resettlement of Chinese on the Western bank of Chao Phraya river
after Rama I moved the capital of the kingdom from Thonburi to Rattanakosin.
From there Chinese traders operated maritime junk trade between (Siam)
and China throughout the Rattanakosin period. By the end of 1891,
King Rama V had ordered the construction of many roads,
including Yaowarat Road. Chinatown does not consist of only Yaowarat Road,
but also includes others such as: Charoen Krung Road, Mungkorn Road,
Songwat Road, Songsawat Road, Chakkrawat Road, etc.
Yaowarat’s Sam Peng Market is the center of the area.
The path of the road is said to resemble a dragon’s curvy body,
making it an auspicious location for business. There are many shops selling gold,
garments, textiles, stationery, souvenirs, second-hand parts
and equipment, electric goods, computer parts, antiques,
imported musical instruments and local delicacies.
Land prices around Yaowarat Road have always been one of the most expensive
in Bangkok and Thailand due to limited land which is mostly owned
by prominent Thai-Chinese families who are often leaders
in their respective industries.
Yaowarat Road in Samphanthawong district is home to Bangkok’s Chinatown,
which is centred on Sam Pheng Lane. Chinatown’s Sam Pheng Market
is an old business centre noted for a post-WW II visit
by the young king Ananda Mahidol. Modern Chinatown now covers a large area
around Yaowarat and Charoen Krung Road.
There are many small streets and alleys full of shops
and vendors selling all types of goods. It has been the main centre for trading
by the Chinese community since they moved from their old
site some 200 years ago to make way for the construction
of Wat Phra Kaew, the Grand Palace.
Nearby is the Phahurat or Indian market, and the area is bordered
by the Chao Phraya River to the south. Yaowarat Road is also well known for
its sheer variety of food, and at night turns into a large “food street”
that draws tourists and locals from all over the city.