Chinatown, and Flower Market, Bangkok Thailand

Bangkok's Chinatown started as a Chinese trading community around 1782. It was nothing more than wilderness when the land was granted by the king of Siam, His Royal Highness Taksin, but it quickly grew as the city grew. It's now perhaps the largest Chinatown in the world, a maze of alleys and narrow passageways with thousands of different vendors with practically anything you could possibly want, all easily carried by a single person. Negotiation is expected; even if you think it's cheap, you're still most likely being overcharged.

Food is readily available, and it's all genuine, legit, local food. You will have a hard time finding anything western, and that was just fine by me. The smells were a mix of what you might expect in a very cramped and tropical environment with limited sanitation. This is where people shop daily for their needs.

The Arrival

I took the subway (do not take a tuk- tuk or a random cab) into the Hua Lumpong station which is by the main train station in Bangkok (you can now take the subway directly into Chinatown at the Wat Mangkon station). I made my way through a horde of buskers and tuk tuk touts, and met my friend Venus who was to show me the area. She's ethnic Chinese and works fulltime for a Japanese bank and part-time for a nice florist shop in Bangkok so she was very well versed in the ways of this part of the city.
My friend Venus
As you may have noticed from other posts about the heat, it was hot in Bangkok. Ok, it's always hot in Bangkok, like miserable hot if you're not a tropical-loving person like me. We took a quick cab from the train station to the edge of Chinatown, and proceeded into the endless (seriously) alleys and warrens that traverse the thousands of vendors. Prime space is on a street; favorable is on an alley, regular is in the walking pathways between, under, around, and through the buildings that make up this district. The least desirable is the mobile truck that has its store in back.

Each general type of good has an 'area'. Finding those areas is quite the task but the process will help you discover more, and trust me when I tell you that compass directions were given no consideration when this area developed. GPS probably won't work well. You can always orient by getting out to a major street, and trying to find Yaowarat Street (marked by lots of Chinese banners) then GPS will start to be accurate again.

Beware, I found a pirate cell tower in the area that doesn't seem to connect outside of itself at all. I don't know the repercussions of the connection, but check your phone to see you are on the provider you expect.
Things start to get interesting when you hit the alleys
Better deals available, more crowded
Yep, seems everything under the sunI have no clue...
Now that you're hungry after walking all over and bartering for deals, you'll want food. You can find it ready to eat in little mini-diners, pre-cooked to take home from various food stalls, or unprepared to cook yourself. Depending on the type of hotel you have, any of these may be your choice.
I have no idea what that coating is
I am officially hungry now
Real Thai street food
If you hit this, you are at the edge of ChinatownThe main street through all of Chinatown
I took Venus to a real place for lunch to thank her for taking the time out to show me this. There are a quite few full-service restaurants on the main streets.

The Flower Market

Venus got us another taxi and we went to the Yodpiman flower market near the west edge of Chinatown. There are stands and stalls, not just in the main building but all over the area. Prices are quite cheap, but they are in bulk. If you don't mind having a few dozen flowers of a type in your room, I'd get a few different varieties.
The smells in here are hypnotic
Bulk, not bad for essential oils extraction
Have seen these around the USA for decades, but never fresh, always driedOk, there is a lot of bulk produce in this area too.  The peppers are HOT!

Summary

These markets are very local legit. A great escape from the combination of high-end shopping and low-end female companionship offered elsewhere in the city. You can spend days here, and it's close enough to the Wat Phra temple and Royal Palace to walk.

It's super safe, I've never even seen or heard of pickpockets in the area. Doesn't mean they are not there, but it's rare. Do not take a tuk tuk anywhere in Bangkok, 99% are a scam and not worth the hassle. Also, do not pick up a cab outside your hotel or at a popular waiting spot. They will be just as bad. Ask your hotel to get you a cab instead. Flag down one driving by when it's time to go back. Never say it's your first time in Bangkok to the driver.



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