The pace of development in Bangkok can often be overwhelming. Leave the city behind for a few months and by the time you’re back the chances are there will be a new mall, high-rise condo or parking lot in place of whatever was there before.
Head over to the charming Talad Noi, however, and you’ll find a refreshing exception where centuries-old shop houses stand side-by-side historic temples, old monuments and handsome colonial mansions.
Talad Noi can be found just a few minutes’ walk south from the famous tourist hotspot of Chinatown (Yaowarat), and is well connected by both the MRT at Hua Lamphong and the Chao Phraya ferry which stops conveniently at the nearby Si Phraya Pier next to the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers. The area is bordered by the Chao Phraya to the west and the famous Charoen Krung Road to the east, but it’s really by the water’s edge where the best panoramic views come into picture.
Unlike the nearby Yaowarat or Charoen Krung Roads, Talad Noi’s narrow lanes aren’t clogged with traffic, meaning it’s actually fun to get around by foot or bicycle.
If you start your day at Hua Lamphong, Wat Traimit—which contains a 5.5-ton solid gold Buddha—and Chinatown are the two big-name attractions nearby. Both are well worth a visit, but delve deeper into the maze of cute streets that make up Talad Noi and you’ll be rewarded with some slightly less touristy attractions.
On the way, look out for some of the many historical and religious buildings such as:
Sol Heng Tai Mansion – a glorious mansion built some 200 years ago by Chinese migrants which now doubles up as a kennel and diving center.
Siam Commercial Bank Building – a mansion designed by the same Italian architect who made Hua Lamphong Station and Ananda Samakhom Throne Hall. Wander in to marvel at the colonial interior designs, or just make a cash withdrawal.
Kalawar Church – step inside this European-style church in the grounds of Kularb Wittaya School, and you may feel as though you’ve been transported from Bangkok to Rome. Okay, it’s no Sistine Chapel, but as churches go in Thailand it’s definitely worth a look along your way through Talad Noi.
It’s not just the old buildings to look out for. The Sieng Kong Zone is where you’ll find piles of spare automotive parts spilling out of the rows of wooden houses along the street. Make sure your cameras are on hand as this is Instagram gold. Along the way, there is plenty of street art lining the crumbling walls of Talad Noi. Most of this is contemporary graffiti style, adding a striking contrasting dimension between old and new throughout the community.
In terms of retail options, this part of town is no Siam, and therefore you won’t find any huge megamalls. If you are in the mood for shopping though, there are:
- River City Shopping Complex - a modern mall on the banks of the Chao Phraya River offering a range of arts, antiques and dining experiences.
- Klongsan Plaza – find the pier just behind the Royal Orchid Sheraton and jump on the ferry across the river to find this compact little market selling mostly cheap woman’s fashion and a good range of street food.
Café hopping, street eats and fine dining at Royal Orchid Sheraton
Each decaying old shop house here takes on a whole different character of its own, some of which now double up as tiny restaurants, art galleries and cafes—a perfect opportunity to turn your sightseeing tour into a foodie tour at the same time. Most of the eateries here open up shop around lunch time, with a nice mix of classic Thai dishes found alongside some quick street food bites, which are often grilled on makeshift barbecues.
After a day spent on foot and sweating it out underneath the blazing sun, you’ve earnt the right dine somewhere with a little more sophistication. At the end of Soi Wanit 2 and right by the water sits the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers, a favorite riverside hotel in Bangkok. All-day dining options here include Feast (for international cuisine with a view), while Thara Thong (traditional Thai) and Riverside Grill (tapas and grill) are two top choices for some fine dining in Bangkok after sunset.