Step out and walk in any direction, and Chinatown unveils itself as the historical heart of Bangkok commerce and culture. Duck into the endless streams of gold shops and pick up a bauble or two. Stroll side alleys and nosh on authentic dim sum or inhale fragrant tea leaves at Lim Meng Kee tea shop, a neighbourhood institution. The markets at Samphengh burst with wholesale wares – from clothing, shoes, hats and household items. Meanwhile Phahurat fabric markets are jam-packed with every type of cloth imaginable. By night, feast on eclectic street food and drink. And round out the day with a smooth cocktail and tunes at our very own Red Rose Restaurant Jazz Lounge.
Step off the main street, and revel in Chinatown’s hidden mystique. Dating back to 1658, Leng Buai La shrine is not only the oldest Chinese temple in Bangkok, but possibly the oldest in all of the Thailand. Chinese and Thai locals flock here to pay homage to the patron deities and the Queen of Heaven. ~ A few short blocks from Shanghai Mansion is the century old Elah Sae Coffee Shop, a favourite spot to share a cup of traditional Chinese coffee in the company of the area’s old timers, many of whom come here each day to conduct business or catch up on neighbourhood gossip. Elah Sae is a favourite stop for the Royal family! ~ Tang To Kang is the city’s oldest gold shop, a six-storey emporium dating back to 1880s. Peruse traditional and modern jewels where young brides go to outfit their dowries.
Chinatown is central to many districts in Bangkok, and offers intriguing ways to get around the city — the way Bangkok’s denizens have been doing it for years. A ten minute walk from the hotel gets you to Ratchawongse Pier, where you can hop on the Chao Phraya Express boat and go anywhere in the city! The express boat stops at Taksin BTS or Skytrain, which takes you straight into the heart Bangkok’s modern commercial and shopping districts: Sathorn, Silom, Siam Square, Chidlom, Sukhumvit, Thonglor and Chatuchak. Head north to Tha Tien or Phra Athit piers, and find yourself in the heart of Rattanakosin, where the Grand Palace, Wat Po, Democracy Monument and the National Gallery, among other iconic buildings and sites are situated. The MRT, or underground rail, is a 10 minute stroll from Shanghai Mansion gets you anywhere in the city. For the truly adventurous, a short tuk tuk ride brings you to the Saen Saep Khlong, the city’s oldest waterway is a visually delightful and cost effective way to bisect the city, skipping Bangkok’s notorious traffic altogether.