Established as Thailand’s capital city over 200 hundred years ago, Bangkok is a rich and dense compilation of history and culture. Several districts still remain immersed in local traditions and lifestyle, despite the city’s unceasing pace of development towards modernity, and offer visitors and passers-by the chance to experience a local adventure. Talad Noi, which literally means ‘small fresh market’, is a charming and nostalgic district worth discovering.
Our recommendation is to head to Talad Noi by the Chao Phraya ferry, as the panoramic riverside scenery along the journey is a perfect introduction for what’s to come. Get off at Si Phraya Pier and walk along the narrow lane called Captain Bush Lane. Just opposite to the pier, take a look at the noticeable building House No. 1 which was once used as a brewery and has just been renovated for special events.
Towards the left, you’ll see the Holy Rosary, a Roman Catholic church founded by Portuguese settlers. Its Thai name was originally ‘Kalawar’, transliterated from Calvary – the mount on which Jesus Christ was crucified. Rebuilt three times, the cream-coloured structure is outstanding with its high façade, towering spire and statue of Virgin Mary above the high arches that frame the elegant main entrance.
Nearby, the original Siam Commercial Bank building sits in resplendent Colonial style. The mansion was designed by the same Italian architect who designed the iconic Hua Lamphong Station and resplendent Ananda Samakhom Throne Hall. Wander inside to marvel at the colonial interior and make a cash withdrawal at Thailand’s first bank.
Sieng Kong Zone is the old Chinese neighbourhood and dominated by wooden shop-houses primarily in the spare automotive part business. The spare parts spill out onto the streets, but in-between the traditional shop-houses and stalls there is plenty of street art waiting to be uncovered that add a striking contrast between old and new, and a new dimension to the neighbourhood.
Talad Noi is considered to be a part of Chinatown and so overflows with different Chinese ethnic symbolism, such as the Hakka shrine called Hon Wong Kung, and Cho Su Kong Shrine the oldest Hokkien shrine in Bangkok. Normally the shrines are a refuge of serenity, but during the 10-day Vegetarian Festival they will be packed with pilgrims in white paying homage to the gods, who then go to wandering around Talad Noi to enjoy the great variety of vegetarian cuisine on offer.
Another Talad Noi landmark is Sol Heng Tai Mansion with its fascinating Chinese architecture and ornamentation dating back more than 200 years, which also houses a kennel and a diving school! The privately-owned mansion welcomes visitors by appointment.
Royal Orchid Sheraton has curated this trip as an inspiring 1-Hour Gem, as part of their Sheraton Effortless Travel service which will ensure that their guests receive ultimate travel solutions – see more.
Text and photos by Goongging Thanisara