Bangkok is a living and breathing creature in its own right. It grows with new spots and hidden treasures popping up everywhere everyday. It’s a city for everybody: every neighbourhood, every street, every soi has a different personality to offer. And it’s truly worth exploring them all. The Thai capital is a city worth getting to know well because it will reward you handsomely — either with an out-of-the-way café that serves the best matcha latte you’ve ever had, or a little bookshop you can call your very own hideaway. The LSA Neighbourhood Guides aim to help you get started towards exploring the various wonders around Bangkok. For this edition, we’re walking the long, old Charoenkrung road, Bangkok’s blossoming creative district and rustic hipster haunt.
Famed as Bangkok’s oldest road, Charoenkrung still retains its historic aesthetic whilst developing into the city’s coolest artsy hub. The road exudes an anachronistic glamour, with authentic vintage architecture housing some of the trendiest cafés and bars. Unsurprisingly, it is a hotspot for some of the most Instagram worthy places in Bangkok. Charoenkrung is also a pretty long road, and all its sprawling hidden gems really make it a must-visit for hundreds of reasons. But here, we’ve selected just the top 10 things we really love about this magical, nostalgic road.
1. The street art
Around the time TCDC (Thailand’s Creative Design Centre) moved to Charoenkrung in 2017, the neighbourhood saw a boom in its art scene. It’s no surprise that these charming low-rise streets and retro surroundings are attracting so many young creatives. A stroll through Charoenkrung is always slow and leisurely, mostly because you’ll be stopping and staring at lots of fantastic wall murals along the way.
2. Brunch at Sarnies
Brunch goals are made of Sarnies. The ultimate hipster hangout serving hearty breakfast dishes from loaded toasts to large plates of comfort fry-ups is one of our favourite reasons to visit Charoenkrung. Order everything on the ‘Eggy Page’ and don’t forget to take away one of those ‘F*cking Good Brownies’.
Sarnies. 44 Charoenkrung Road, Bangkok, 10500 (8am-5.30pm).
3. The greatest dish ever created at Baan Padthai
Along the same path as Sarnies is a strip of several lovely little eateries. Chez Mou and Homu both serve great desserts and coffee, as well as both having perfectly Insagrammable café fronts. Walk down a tiny bit further and you reach one of the best places in Bangkok for Pad Thai. Baan Padthai is unbeatable for its authenticity and quaint al fresco tables. Juicy noodles and peaceful people-watching — what more could you want?
Baan Padthai. 44 Charoenkrung, Bangkok, 10500 (11am-10pm).
4. Historical chill sessions at So Heng Tai Mansion
Charoenkrung is the place to go if you’re looking for antiquated houses and historical architecture. The queen of these would be So Heng Tai, an ancestral Chinese mansion hidden in the narrow winding alleys of Talat Noi. The traditional home has been turned into a very chill hangout space, and you can order Som Tam or sip iced coffees on the balconies overlooking the courtyard. A bonus tip? Nip over just opposite the mansion for riverside drinks at the hipster wooden café, Baan Rim Nam.
So Heng Tai. 282 Soi Wanit 2, Bangkok, 10100 (9am-6pm. Closed Mondays).
5. The Mandarin Oriental Bangkok
The best example of what’s old but gold. The Mandarin Oriental Bangkok is possibly the most beautiful hotel in the city, keeping with traditional Thai designs and enjoying an abundance of bright natural light and greenery. It’s the perfect stop for some peaceful luxury, with everything from a gorgeous afternoon tea in The Authors’ Lounge to an indulgent spa day.
The Mandarin Oriental Bangkok. 48 Oriental Avenue, Bangkok, 10500. Tel: 02 659 9000.
6. The coolest bars in town
No matter how hard other places try in Bangkok, watering holes and speakeasies can never feel as cool as they do in Charoenkrung. The rustic buildings and run-down warehouses make brilliant hideaways for the it-bars of the area, giving them a kind of charm and effortlessness that they could never have in Thonglor. Here, we’ve got one of Asia’s 50 best bars, Tropic City, reigning over the neighbourhood with their tiki cocktails and bangin’ playlist. There’s also BAAB (Badass Asia Bar) and lots of others in and out of Charoenkrung’s branching alleys. Yes, we’re kind of obsessed with bar-crawling around here.
Tropic City. 28 Charoenkrung, Bangkok, 10500 (Tues-Sat: 7pm-2am. Sun: 7pm-12am. Closed Mondays). BAAB. 30 Charoenkrung Road, Bangkok, 10500 (Tues-Fri: 5pm-12.30am. Sat-Sun: 5pm-12am. Closed Mondays).
7. Quality massages at Erb Spa
The thing about Charoenkrung is that it’s very easy to walk around and get from place to place. However, it’s also quite a long road and your feet may start to feel the toll. Pop into Erb Spa in Charoenkrung 30 for a great foot or full body massage done with the spa’s very own organic oils and balms. It’s a cool, quiet break and you’ll smell absolutely amazing afterwards.
Erb Spa. 30 Charoenkrung Road, Bangkok, 10500 (10am-8pm).
8. The best of fine dining
Charoenkrung may be better known for hipster cafés and traditional street eats, but it’s far from a stranger to the Michelin star. Around this neighbourhood is both 80/20 for some French haute cuisine and Mezzaluna, the two Michelin-starred restaurant (with prices almost as high as its location at the top of lebua). We also can’t forget Jua either for their more casual yet still exquisite Japanese izakaya.
80/20. 26 Charoenkrung Road, Bangkok, 10500 (6pm-11pm. Closed Mondays). Mezzaluna. 1055 Silom, Bangkok, 10500 (6pm-1am. Closed Mondays). Jua. 49 Charoenkrung Road, Bangkok, 10500 (Mon-Sat: 6pm-12am. Sun: 6pm-10pm).
9. The best of non-fine dining
And for when you don’t need a Michelin star to satisfy your gastronomic needs, Charoenkrung also offers some of the best street eats in the city. Staying close to Chinese ancestral roots, you’ll find many traditional dishes here without having to brave the crowds and queues on Yaowarat Road. However, we always head for Tuang Dim Sum for some of the best, no-frills dim sum you could ask for.
Tuang Dim Sum. 9 Charoenkrung Road, Bangkok, 10120 (7am-4pm. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.)
10. Art gallery hopping
This is known as the creative district for a reason. Unlike most other places in Bangkok, this area is full of cool art galleries and exhibition spaces to pop into and look around. They’re often multi-functional too, some being bars, cafés, and shops, whilst also showcasing a few contemporary works by young artists. There’s Speedy Grandma, Warehouse 30, Serindia Gallery, and more. Be sure to head to Bangkok’s artistic pride, TCDC, for conceptual exhibitions and creative resources.
TCDC. Central Post Office, 1160 Charoenkrung Road, Bangkok 10500 (10.30am-9pm. Closed Mondays). Speedy Grandma. 672/52 Charoenkrung Road, Bangkok, 10500 (11am-7pm. Closed Mondays). Warehouse 30. 52-60 Captain Bush Lane, Bangkok 10500 (11am-8pm). Serindia Gallery. 36 Charoenkrung Road, Bangkok, 10500 (11am-7pm. Closed Mondays).