Chinatown: The Throbbing Heart of Bangkok

Chinatown is the throbbing hub of Bangkok. Eating and shopping are all plentiful in Bangkok's Chinatown district.

If you were to perform open heart surgery on Bangkok, then it would be Chinatown that would be found as the pulsating central mass.

The arteries that supply this energetic, thumping, heaving hub, are flowing with Thais and foreigners alike.

Not that they are alike of course. Thais are at one with China Town. Foreigners generally look on - bemused; confused; and maybe a little envious.

No need to be, for Bangkok's Chinatown is there to be enjoyed by all.

Shopping, sightseeing, eating or just soaking up the atmosphere of the Chinatown area. It's what fun in Bangkok is all about.

Chinatown didn't simply 'happen'. It was bought into being back in 1782, when thousands of Chinese labourers - instrumental in building Bangkok - were 'moved' into the area by the Thai Royal Government of the time.

Prior to that, the Thai Chinese population were residents of what is now Ko Ratanakosin.

Chinatown is - as you would expect - prosperous. Commercial trading is carried on at all levels, from gold selling right down - or maybe up - to the street vendors who jostle for space along with the huge influx of people at all times of the day.

What can you get in Chinatown? Far easier to say what you cannot. On the edible side, there are all manner of fruits and snacks on the small stalls. Also live crabs (Its ok, their pincers are normally tied in).

Maybe a dodgy DVD turns you on, or that cheap Rolex watch. It will look identical, and anyway, who do you know who will tell the diffence.

Stray off the main central thoroughfare of Th Yaowarat (Yaowaraj) into the side streets and walkways. Don't worry about getting lost, for everywhere leads somewhere.

Chinatown Bangkok, is probably one of the best examples of well-organised chaos that you will ever find. Be part of it, don't try and fight it. Far better to go with the flow in Chinatown than to fight your way against it. There are natural flow movements, that will ensure that you see much of what is interesting.

Taxi drivers have the right idea about travelling in Chinatown. No point in trying to move that which is static. When it is ready, it will move. The cause is probably several hundred metres away, so there is nothing you can do. Policemen can blow their whistles as loud and as often as they like.

Chinatown: The Throbbing Heart of BangkokI have never seen it make any difference, other than to add to the general chaos and ambience of the place.

If you really need to get in or out fast, then you can try the kamikaze method of motorbike pillion passenger, or maybe even the Tuk Tuk.

If you have never tried the latter as a means of transport, then Chinatown is a good experience. Tuk Tuks are around a third less in girth than most cars, but can easily slip though gaps which are just half their own width. Oh yes they can.

Walking along with the crowds is a much more enjoyable experience. As with other parts of Bangkok, high heels are not an option!

Eating in Chinatown - the main purpose of the visit for many - can be as frustrating or as enjoyable as you want it to be. If you are in a hurry, or perhaps financially broke, then the street vendors are the main source of food to suit your pocket and particular lifestyle.

If you think you know your noodles, be open minded, for here they are recognised as being of the best. The general rule to follow is, that if the Thais congregate, then get in there. It's good.

Traditionally, the Chinese regard there food akin to medicine. It makes you feel good. The same is true of the drinks to be found in Chinatown. Cool herbal drinks are dispensed along the pavement - often in clear plastic bottles, so you can at least see the colour.

The price is right, so just have a try at whatever you may think will turn you on. This is Chinatown Bangkok. Enjoy!

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