Sampeng Lane is a bustling market lined street in the Chinatown area of Bangkok.
It is pedestrianised to the extent that it would be impossible for cars to fit along it – but that doesn’t stop moped riders from squeezing through the throngs of shoppers or street food sellers hauling their food carts through the crowds.
In my notebook, I noted that a stroll along Sampeng Lane was a pleasant and shaded respite from the hot and busy streets. I made those notes after my first visit to Sampeng Lane late one afternoon. Later in the week, when I revisited Sampeng Lane, it was less a pleasant stroll and more a battle against a sea of local shoppers hunting for bargains.
You will find all manner of things for sale on Sampeng Lane, in shops ranging from modern air conditioned stores to simple street stalls. Clothing shops are particularly common, as well as shops selling footwear, cosmetics and perfumes, sweets, CDs, children’s toys, jewellery, carpets, fabrics and various household items. I even saw a shop that was selling Halloween costumes and pumpkins!
There are a few small restaurants amongst the shops and lots of street food for sale. You will find locals pulling carts of grilled skewered meats and fish, or selling ice cream from a mobile freezer. I saw one elderly lady selling nuts and dried fruits from a basket.
Along Sampeng Lane there are signs overhead warning visitors to be on their guard against pickpockets.
Sampeng Lane – a busy, pedestrianised shopping street in Chinatown.
I stayed in Chinatown for a week when I visited Bangkok in September 2007.
While I probably wouldn’t stay there again if I ever returned to Bangkok (due to the lack of nearby public transport options), I would very highly recommend a visit there and a few hours (or even days) wandering the busy action-packed streets.
Yaowarat Road is the bustling main thoroughfare of Chinatown. It is lined on both sides with hotels, restaurants, Chinese food shops, grocery stores, clothing stores and jewellery shops. The shops and restaurants are only a small part of the shopping and dining opportunities in Chinatown though, as much of the activity takes place out on the streets.
You will find street food stalls all over Chinatown. These sell all sorts of food from simple bowls of noodles and soup to grilled meat, fresh seafood and sweet cakes. Roasted chestnuts are particularly common in Chinatown – you’ll find lots of people roasting them by the roadside.
As well as the food stalls, the streets are full of outdoor markets selling fresh fruit and vegetables, souvenirs, flowers, perfumes, clothing, toys and all manner of household items.
By night, Yaowarat Road is lit up by large neon signs that line the restaurant and shop fronts along both sides of the road. The food stalls are bustling after dark, with thousands of people (mainly locals) sitting on the streets eating cheap meals and watching the world go by. Even if you don’t fancy eating on the streets, it is fascinating just to walk around soaking up the atmosphere and taking photos.
As a tourist, you may want to note that no bars are allowed operate within Chinatown. Nightlife therefore centres around the hotels and restaurants, where you can buy alcoholic beverages to accompany your meal.
The nearest MRTA station to Chinatown is Hua Lamphong (15 minutes walk from Yaowarat Road) and the nearest ferry pier is Ratchawong (10 minutes walk from Yaowarat Road).
Visit Chinatown to soak up an atmosphere that is different from anywhere else in Bangkok!
Bangkok's Chinatown is a hectic heady old business area around Yaowarat Rd and Charoen Krung Rd.There are also many little streets and alley ways here where you can wonder aimlessly through a maze of shops and stalls selling everything you can imagine.
From Ratchawong Pier walk up Ratchawong Rd where you will see some really old colonial style shophouses takes you pass Sampeng market .This is a shoppers paradise with lots of cheap goods in bulk especially for the girls.Along Yawarat Rd you wil find many reataurants selling Shark Fin and Bird nest soups ,not so cheap if your on a budget.However there are also many cheaper little noodle shops as well. Further on there are gold shops;I lost count of the number of them here,one in paticular was packed .Cheaper than the others I think? The Chinese drugstore are good too if you know what your after.
If you walk to the top end of Yawarat Rd make sure you checked out the the classic Chinese temple on the right then on to the Chinatown Gate .Further on is Wat Tramit Golden Buddha.
We often talk about staying somewhere besides Chinatown when we come back to Bangkok - but, the fact that I am a hyperactive early morning waker keeps bringing us back to this area. While we don't venture out much at night in Chinatown, we love that you can look out of the window at virtually any time of the day or night, and there is action! I often get up very early in the morning, and wander through the markets at this time of day. This is before the shops in Chinatown open - and, almost without exception, I am the only tourist there - a dork with a camera......
There is an abundance of stuff down here - food, food, food - both fresh and cooked. I would NEVER cook if I lived in this city. There are also stalls of bags, jewellery, toys, cloth, jewellery and other accessories, toiletries, footwear and clothing, beauty products........Everything you could want - and all well before breakfast!
Then......about about 8.30am, everyone starts packing up and leaving with loaded trolleys - and the shops open, and the stalls outside the shops set up the second shift in Chinatown.
I love it at any time of the day. Never feel threatened - often feel very looked at - try not to get in the way...
Walking in Bangkok during the day is normally only for the very enthusiastic and requires dodging in and out of air-conditioned establishments, but this stroll through Chinatown is something most people should be able to cope with. It's in the shade almost all the way along, but it is quite crowded, so keep your valuables close!
Sampeng Lane runs right through Chinatown and is a narrow little lane crowded with shopfronts and stalls. Most people are on foot, although you will encounter the odd motorbike slowly working its way along. Unless you're keen on fabrics you might not buy anything here, but it is a very atmospheric place and quite different to the rest of inner-city Bangkok. Once you've finished strolling, you could take a tuk-tuk to the next place, you'll probably need a sit-down!
I love staying in Bangkok Chinatown - from hitting the streets early in the morning, and mingling in the morning markets, with so many wonderful and often alien foods - watching the monks go about their food gathering and blessings - being looked at as a curiosity while people go about their business - and smiling wearily as I gesture and take their photos. A little time later, these markets clear - shutters go up and the day shops open. The lanes are amazing, and so easy to lose your bearings in! People - bikes - food stalls - shops and shops - tailors and food vendors - jewellery - shops dedicated to single items, like plastic bags, sheets, string, hair decorations, watches - buy by the dozen! No personal space sensitivity allowed - and nobody seems the slightest bit hassled or harried - just like the traffic. The next shift is the start of the nighttime bustle - so much food - so many things to buy.
I love the smells - they are so familiar to me now. I just love to get amongst Chinatown here - the whole mix of things to see and do, the assault on your senses.
We went to Chinatown on a Saturday and after the experience it would have been better going on a week day as it would be less crowded. The crowds were enormous and as we slowly edged along Sampeng Lane we struggled to view the stalls as you had to be aware of trolleys moving huge loads of stock up the narrow lane. Sometimes motorbikes would weave their way through the thick crowd and if you stopped to view a stall you would be bumped by passers by. If you went into a stall you were at peace. Our walk through Sampeng Lane took approximately an hour, although we did not get the chance to buy anything.
The trip is essential sightseeing for the tourist and I am certain there were plenty of bargains amoungst the vast array of goods on display. The weekend is to be avoided as the locals visit to do their normal shopping.
One of the most popular attractions in Bangkok.
Close to: Chao Praya river
Location: Near Chao Praya
Pictures in the web: Chinatown
Last Visit: September 2008
First Photo: Chinatown
Second Photo: Chinatown
Third Photo: Chinatown
Forth Photo: Chinatown
Fifth Photo: Chinatown
No matter what time of day, there is always some action in Chinatown. We love this part of Bangkok! There are shoulder to shoulder street stalls and shops - sometimes piggy-backed, all through Chinatown, and they operate in shifts - people coming and going. I always imagine a virtual army of people out there somewhere, cooking and preparing food for the day, which starts at around 5.00am to 6.00am each morning. The action changes a little on the weekends, but there is always plenty to do and see - and BUY!
Whether its the main wholesale shopping in Chinatown, the stalls outside the shops, which change during the day, food sellers and vendors of cooked foods and snacks, mobile shops, and stationery foodstalls, they are there day and night. Gold shops galore - which are only open during business hours - but 7 days a week.......
I can't imagine staying anywhere else in Bangkok!
This is one of the busiest parts of Bangkok - congestion at its densest. Easiest way to get here is via the ferry system - especially in the evenings, when it gets really busy. Hualamphong Station is also a relatively short walk - roughly 10 mins. - but the Ratchawongse pier is closest.
The shops and alleys of Chinatown are an easy whole day adventure. The markets start well before the sun is up, and change throughout the day. There is also the fabulous "thieves market" which is a daily affair, starting at about 9.00am, folding at about 3.00pm. Busier and much much larger on the weekends.
There is also a 24 hour local market on Saturday nights. Wandered through here a few times - when I've woken in the middle of the night, or stayed up late. Packed - and a great place to buy some 20Baht noodles!
Walk through the very narrow alleys and be amazed by all he things you can buy here for almost nothing.Enjoy all sorts of food street vendors sell all over the place!
It is also nice to just walk in the more quiet streets to breath the atmosphere.
I went to Chinatown on my last day in bangkok. It's worthwhile to pay a visit to worlds largest Chinatown. As soon as you arrive there, you'll notice that the whole atmosphere is different from the rest of Bangkok.
Lots of marketstands with food, clothing, silk, electronica, diamonds stores, jewellery. It's the whole scenery. You just have to see, smell and taste it to know what I mean.
I think I will also put Chinatown at my shopping tips, but even if you buy nothing it is worth to go there.
I stayed in the Chinatown area and would do this again on my next visit. To me, it's the most liveliest part of Bangkok: during day, but especially during the evening, lots of street vendors are cooking the most delicious meals right on the street. At first I was a bit scared about the hygiene, but I tried the food several times and never got sick!
This may not be the area with the most beautiful monuments, but you can't leave Bangkok before you visited Chinatown!
Bangkok's chinatown is a little like other chinatown's in other cities. The difference is that it is quite busy and many Chinese Thai residents live here. It's interesting if you have some time to kill. Located in Chinatown is Wat Traimit. A beautiful wat, which is famous for the world's largest golden Buddha image.
In this area there are lots of gold shops and stores selling tacky souvenirs. Along the street, you will see many women threading eyebrows. They use thread to remove unwanted hair. I have a friend, who does it and she says it's not painful. Lots of chinese restaurants nearby and a great wet market full of wonderful fruit.
You won't believe what you see here, what a different culture!
Strangest food in the world! Lots of pastery in strange colours (like pink) filled with fish, dried stuff, squids, special seafood, they even sell dried crockodile ***! The strangest culture ever seen!
Without having to visit China, visit Chinatown first for an impression.... Definitely a must see.
The Chinatown district is one of the oldest areas of Bangkok as Chinese merchants were originally moved to this area in the early 1780's when Bangkok was founded. One of the main streets of this area, Charoen Krung was actually Bangkok's first paved road, so it's English name, New Road, couldn't really be more inappropriate nowadays. The area has got a somewhat seedy historical reputation for large numbers of opium dens, brothels (which hung green lanterns outside, giving it the name of the Green Light district), pawnshops and a fondness for gambling.
Today, gold shops and pawnshops are still very popular in Chinatown and can be found almost anywhere. Drug dealing, prostitution and gambling (all now illegal in Thailand) are also still thought to be widespread in this area, though they are not likely to be very noticeable to the average visitor.
Though other attractions as such are thin on the ground, Chinatown is an interesting place to just wander around. A couple of Chinatown's most interesting roads are Yaowarat road leading westwards from near Wat Traimit, and Sampeng Lane, also sometimes known as Soi Wanit), running parallel south of Yaowarat.
Busy Yaowarat road is Chinatown's main street, and has surely one of greatest concentrations of gold shops anywhere, reflecting the love of gold the Thai-Chinese are often thought to have. There's dozens of them, all dazzlingly brightly colored, and with mainly very good prices. There's also plenty of restaurants round here also, where you can get birds-nest soup, dim sum, shark fin soup and other traditional Chinese delicacies.