Bangkok’s Yaowarat Chinatown (เยาวราช) is one of the most amusing areas of the city.
Every visit is an arousing overdose of all senses. The constant throbbing energy of shopping paired with the steam of delicious food being prepared street side is an irresistible combination.
While Yaowarat is a bustling part of Bangkok (video) each and everyday, it is also the epicenter of a few annual festivals such as Chinese New Years and the famous Thai vegetarian festival which makes things even more hectic.
Despite the hordes of people that trek through the winding markets, street food vendors position themselves in highly inconvenient for shoppers, yet highly successful for sales, positions.
Human traffic jams are an inevitable part of visiting Bangkok Chinatown.
Vespas rule Yaowarat.
And though walkways and streets are continually clogged with shoppers and vendors, somehow motorbike delivery men seem to zip through the action without crashing into anybody (but coming frighteningly close).
Smoked and dried duck and pig faces, and fresh high quality durian are among the mishmash of wonderful looking (and smelling) things to feast your eyes and belly upon in Yaowarat.
Chinese Buddhism mixed with lots of traditional Thai and Chinese beliefs is the dominating religion throughout Yaowarat. Within the area there are both Thai Buddhist temples and Chinese Buddhist Taoist temples.
Just as in any Chinatown in the world, Chinese food or a fusion of Asian cuisine is an integral component. Yaowarat has many restaurant dining options and an great selection of Bangkok street food hawkers.
Whether you’re hungry for rice noodle rolls swimming in intensely porky broth (kuay jab), or a variety of Thai Chinese style dishes, Yaowarat won’t let you down.
It was a number of years ago that I enjoyed my first ever bowl of bird’s nest soup in Yaowarat (bottom left) – I could instantly feel the health and rejuvenation surging through my veins!
Daytime in Yaowarat is market time, but night is when the action of street food gets really popping.
Vespas make way for tuk-tuks that control the night.
Nighttime in Yaowarat is a never ending sea of foldable tables and plastic chairs, shadowed by bright Chinese signs and the dizzying flow of traffic that never comes to a halt.
But again, it’s the food that makes visiting Yaowarat at night one of the top things to do in Bangkok – there’s an enticing selection that never fails to entertain the stomach.
Seafood, noodles, bird’s nest soup, suckling pig and the creme de la creme of all durian, are all passionately represented throughout Chinatown Bangkok (video).
I particularly enjoy raw mantis prawns (top right) soaked in fish sauce, raw garlic and fiery chillies.
Though there’s a distinct durian season in Thailand, Yaowarat is one location in Bangkok where you can get durian of utmost quality year round.
The reason I like the photo above so much is because the vendor was feeding her little white dog pieces of durian – this is perhaps the luckiest dog in the world!
Even if you just have one day in Bangkok, the markets, the street food and restaurants, the constant energy and the hustle of business makes Yaowarat Chinatown an enthralling area to visit.