The 1.43-km street of Yaowarat where the Chinese community is located was built in the reign of King Rama V Along this strip and the network of sidestreets crisscrossing stand shops and restaurants frequented by connoisseurs of things Chinese from all over the country. As pliers of a trade tend to stay together, each block on Yaowaraj has its own attractions. The first block west of Odeon Circle is the financial and spiritual heart of Chinatown, with banks and finance houses. At the intersection of Phadungdao and Songsawat begins the row of specialty food shops. Between the intersection of Soi
Yaowapanich and Plaeng Nam Road and Ratchawong Intersection lies the heart of Chinatown. Clustered on these few blocks are more than 30 gold shops doing brisk business. Stalls selling everything from sweets to imported fruit to clothing items line the sidewalks. While on this Golden Strip, drop by the Old Market in Trok Isranuphap, the biggest Chinese food mart - where restaurant chefs shop for their favourite ingredients. During night time, this busy street turns tinto one of the city's longest food street.
BAN BAT (MONK'S BOWL VILLAGE)
Located in Soi Ban Bat off Boriphat Road, Ban Bat is a small community well known for making bat or monk's alms bowls in the traditional way Eight separate pieces of steel are fused with bits of copper, beaten, polished and coated with lacquer. The community is believed to have started as a settlement of refugees fleeing from the war in Ayutthaya. Tel: 0 2223 8093.
MON OF KO KRET, NONTHABURI
About 30 kilometres north of Bangkok on the Chao Phraya River and easy to visit by river boat, this island is a great fun for group day outing. Ko Kret is a natural island, created in 1722 when the Lat Kret Noi canal was dug to by-pass a bend in the river, thus isolating several Mon villages on the island. Today, Ko Kret is wellknown for its traditional-style pottery-making. There's an Ancient Mon Pottery House belonged to a fifth generation resident on the island. Visitors can view the collection on display in the house and purchase or order modern ready-made samples.
KHAO SAN ROAD
This is a new community of foreign tourists, mainly backpackers, in Bangkok and a meeting place for young travellers from around the world. On either side of the road are cheap guesthouses, souvenir and food stalls, book shops and tour agents. Lots of cheap cafes close to Bang Lamphu shopping areas.
Located off Pracharat Road, Prachanaruemit lane is the city's biggest wooden furniture centre with more than 200 shops selling fine wood crafts and furniture ranging from cabinets, door and window frames, to beds, dining tables and home decorative items.
Siam Square on Rama I Road is one of Bangkok's favourite shopping areas among fashion-conscious teenagers. Here, you'll find shops where you can bargain for the price of locally-made garments as well as international fashion label boutiques, and bookstores, music and video stores and cinemas. This fashionable shopping area is also crammed with medium- to high-priced eateries and American fastfood outlets. Bangkok's branch of Hard Rock Cafe is just down the street. Dozens of food stalls sell meatballs, grilled squid, and fried bananas along the walkways that connect the main streets.
CHATUCHAK WEEKEND MARKET
The Chatuchak Weekend Market on Phaholyothin-Kamphaengphet roads is the largest collection of everything you can imagine, from insect-eating plants to designer dresses. Nowhere else is the spirit of flea markets more vividly alive than at Chatuchak, right next to green expanse of Chatuchak Park. At the Weekend Market, shoppers can demonstrate their bargaining skill to the limit, no matter how low the price tag may be already But buying isn't the only point of visiting Chatuchak. Just being there is half the fun. It's a kind of cultural exploration, and the bustling atmosphere of the market is what makes it such a matchless shopping experience.
PAK KHLONG TALAT
This spectacular wholesale flower market on the Chinatown side of the Memorial Bridge is a must to walk through in the early morning or later at night. Hundreds of varieties of cut flowers and tropical plants are on offer at very low prices. Open daily but most colourful at night after 8 pm.