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Where should you go when you have a day off in Bangkok? We have a good answer for this simple yet surprisingly tricky question? And when you go, please exercise caution in this, the New Normal.


Today, we are going to Talat Noi – the little market – an old Chinese community on the east bank of the Chao Phraya River. From serving as a major port and disembarkation point of both goods and Chinese immigrants when river transportation was the capital’s lifeline, the area is slowly reinventing itself as a “cool neighbourhood” where you can find colourful street art and chic cafes cheek to cheek with stalls selling old-school noodles or Chinese snacks. This is not to mention the Chinese shrines and old houses that give so much character to this charming area. We would describe Talat Noi as a living gallery …

How to get there:

It’s more convenient to use public transport for this trip.

1.From the MRT Hua Lamphong Train Station, walk, or take a taxi or tuk tuk to Soi Charoen Krung 22.
2.From the BTS Saphan Taksin Station, walk, or take a taxi or tuk tuk to the River City.
3.Take Bus Nos. 1, 35, and 75 to Talat Noi and No 36 and 93 to Si Phra Ya.

One fine day @ Talat Noi
1 Have a bowl of noodles at Pet Tun Chao Tha – the legendary duck stew noodle shop near the Marine Department.
2 Take pictures at Rong Kueak Chinese Shrine.
3 Enjoy a refreshment and admire the traditional Chinese mansion of So Heng Tai.
4 Visit Bangkok’s most important Hokkien shrine, Chow Sue Kong.
5 Be adventurous and sample cold jelly pork knuckle.
6. Stop by the Talat Noi Branch of the Siam Commercial Bank for its classical architecture.
7. Admire the classic beauty of the Holy Rosary Church. 

We start the trip at Soi Charoen Krung 22. Bikes for rent are available at the nearby Lofitel 22 hostel for those who like to ride.
The small alleys are lined with old shophouses, some of which have undergone major renovations. As you stroll through the area, you can see how the residents of this old Chinese community go about their daily business. It’s very authentic and of course not always pretty, far-removed from those “curated experiences” you will see elsewhere. 

The duck stew noodle shop near the Marine Department
The legendary shop has been around for more than four decades. We enjoy its tender duck meat and mellow soup. The shop offers a variety of noodle types.

Soi Vanich 2, Talat Noi, Samphanthawong, Bangkok
Open daily from 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. (Closed Sunday)
Tel. 0 2233 2541

After a bowl of delicious duck stew noodles, you’re ready to explore Talat Noi in earnest. Start by strolling into Trok San Chao Rong Kueak, just across from the noodle shop. Vibrant street art decorates the walls of this small alley making for perfect photo opportunities.

Rong Kueak Chinese (Sanchao Hon Wong) Shrine
At the end of the alley is an old Chinese shrine called Sanchao Hon Wong, which was founded by Hakka immigrants during the reign of King Rama V the Great. The century-old shrine is located on the river bank and provides a good break from the heat and chaos outside.

The shrine is home to the statue of the deity Hon Wong Kung, which was brought to Siam by Hakka merchants around a hundred years prior to the construction of the present structure. During Chinese New Year, worshippers visit the shrine to pray for good fortune.
Soi Vanich 2, Talat Noi, Samphanthawong, Bangkok
Open daily from 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. 

So Heng Tai Chinese Mansion
Further on in the alley not far from the shrine is So Heng Tai Chinese Mansion, a beautiful traditional residence that’s more than 200 years old. The mansion now houses a scuba diving school and a small café. Its striking feature is a central courtyard that has been repurposed as a swimming pool.

There is no admission fee, but you are required to order at least one drink if you want to see the old Chinese architecture. We think it’s fair enough as maintaining this large mansion isn’t an easy task for the owner.

The owner of So Heng Tai and her family still live here, so please respect their privacy and strictly follow the rules given on the signs.
Soi Vanich 2, Talat Noi, Samphanthawong, Bangkok
Open daily from 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (Closed Monday)
Tel. 08 0218 7000

You won’t be able to resist taking a photo of this abandoned vintage Fiat 500. It’s one of the iconic images of Talat Noi. And as far as we know, this is not an art installation and we don’t have a story to tell although we wish we did!

Feline fans will find the objects of their affection here!

Cat(ch) Me If You Can…

Chow Sue Kong Chinese Shrine
A short walk from So Heng Tai house is Chow Sue Kong, a Hokkien shrine built in 1804 that is one of the earliest shrines in Talat Noi. The shrine houses various Chinese deities that are worshipped by Thais of Chinese descent. You will also have a good view of and enjoy cool breezes from the Chao Phraya River at this shrine.

We’ve heard that many people have had their prayers answered after praying at this riverside shrine.

Chow Sue Kong is especially worthy of a visit due to its Shang Dynasty style of architecture and delicate stucco work. The shrine is well preserved by the Hokkien Association of Thailand.
Soi Vanich 2, Talat Noi, Samphanthawong, Bangkok
Open daily from 7:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Piles of used engines and metal parts are a common sight in Talat Noi although their numbers have dwindled a lot since the heyday of Xiang Kong. The business of selling second-hand automobile parts has its origins here in Talat Noi.

The adorable mascot of TAT, “Nong Suk Jai”, is waiting to greet you at Talat Noi!!

Cold Jelly Pork Knuckle

It’s time for another specialty dish of Talat Noi. Across the alley from Chow Sue Kong is a humble stall that has been part of the community for more than 70 years. It is now run by a cheerful aunty with only 4-5 tables and serves a la carte dishes with cold jelly pork knuckle as its signature.

This is a pork knuckle stew with herbs that is refrigerated until it develops a jelly-like texture. A large portion costs 200 Baht, and we recommend starting with half a serving.

It goes well with Chinese sour sauce or chili sauce. Having this dish is an interesting experience. As they say, we should try everything once!
Sour pork sour complements the stall’s signature dish.
Vegetarians shouldn’t miss the food at Talat Noi during the annual vegetarian festival in October. Stalls selling a variety of tasty dishes both sweet and savory spring up all over the community.
Soi Vanich 2, Talat Noi, Samphanthawong, Bangkok
Open daily from 6:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Tel. 0 2233 5450, 08 9515 1053

Siam Commercial Bank, Talat Noi Branch
A short walk away is the first bank of Thailand, Siam Commercial Bank. This classic building now serves as the Bank’s Talat Noi branch.
Originally called the Book Club, the Bank was established during the reign of King Rama V the Great. The building was constructed in the Beaux-arts and Neoclassical style.

The Bank occupies a pleasant location in Bangkok. 

Go inside the building even you don’t plan to make a transaction. The Bank has a very elegant décor worthy of your time (Harry Potter’s Cringotts Bank comes to mind!). Historical banking documents and vintage objects are also on display.

Soi Vanich 2, Talat Noi, Samphanthawong, Bangkok
Open daily from 8:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Tel. 0 2237 5001

The Holy Rosary Church 

Next door to the Siam Commercial Bank is the Holy Rosary Church, commonly known in Thai as Bot Kalawa, from the Portuguese ‘calvario’. The Church shares the same gate as Kulap Witthaya School and is usually open to the public except on some special occasions (please contact the Church directly if you need to confirm its opening schedule).

The Neo-Gothic church, with its towering spire topped with a crucifix, was originally built by Portuguese traders in 1786. Its stained glass windows feature the images of famous saints and important events in the Bible. This beautiful church is the last stop of our Talat Noi trip.
Soi Vanich 2, Talat Noi, Samphanthawong, Bangkok
Open daily from 9:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Tel. 0 2266 4849

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