Culture & Events
Joss Paper

When you stroll around Chinatown, you will inevitably find stacks of money, flowers and gift packages of toys, paper shirts, computers and iPhones. – all made from paper. These paper products, or “joss paper”, aren’t toys — they are meant as offerings for family members who’ve passed away. The offerings are whisked off to the afterlife in a ceremonial burning. In Chinese tradition, certain days are auspicious for burning. During these times, which coincide with lunar cycles and the solstice, you will see offerings piled next to small bonfires or burning areas of the temple.


Chinese immigrants who settled in an area known as Chareon Chai have been making joss paper items for generations. The Chareon Chai neighbourhood is tucked in narrow soi, or lane, between Chaoren Krung Road and Plubpachia Alley, a short stroll from Shanghai Mansion. Here, life unfolds much as it has for generations. The shop houses date back over a hundred years, and you can catch a glimpse of families making joss paper items on their stoop. Stacks of items are available for sale, giving the alley a colorful, festive atmosphere.
If you head to Chareon Chai, don’t miss Ban Kao Lao Rueng, a household that once belonged to a troop of Chinese opera performers. The performers’ costumes, masks and set pieces are still there, and the shophouse has been converted into a small museum. Proceeds from donation go to protecting the entire Chareon Chai neighborhood, which is increasingly under threat from urban developers.