Go to Exit 1 of Saphan Taksin BTS Station. Begin at a large wall painting in front of you.
In early 2016, BUKRUK Urban Arts Festival transformed the neighborhood by bringing international artists to Bangkok to paint walls. Dutch artist Daan Botlek was given a monumental 80-meter wall next to one of Bangkok’s busiest transportation nodes. The result is a thought provoking and mesmerizing mural of a massive character interacting with the environment.
Facing the mural, turn right and walk away from the river. Turn left at the first street intersection. Immediately on your right, enter:
This Hainan shrine from the late 1800s was built in memory of 108 Chinese travelers who sailed for Bang Rak but were killed in Vietnam after being mistaken for pirates. Today, many still pray at the shrine to receive blessings from several gods there, including the well-known Guan Yin and Tuptim.
Continue straight down the street toward a row of shophouses until you reach a T intersection. Turn right. Immediately on your right is:
This mosque, while modest, is over a century old and is a testament to Muslims settling down in Bang Rak in an earlier period. The Islamic community became a presence in the area during King Rama V’s reign and constructed the mosque in the early 1900s.
Walk along the mosque’s white walls to the end. On your left is a small alley into:
Every community in Bangkok has two hearts: its house of worship and market. Bang Rak Market provides the locals with their meats and produce and hosts several street food stalls. If you are here early enough, you might glimpse locals giving alms to monks from a nearby temple for blessings in return.
Exit the market onto Charoenkrung 44 alley. Turn right and walk until you meet the main road of Charoenkrung. On your right on the street corner is:
Extremely famous for its Thai desserts, this nonchalant shop attracts Bangkokians far and wide to come and buy local sweets, including foi thong, thong yip, thong yod, and khanom chan. Select a few to snack on your walk and for later.
Facing the main road of Charoenkrung, turn left and start heading north until you see a zebra crossing. Cross the road with care to the opposite side and backtrack south until an alley on your left with a food stall called Jok Prince selling congee. Enter the alley and walk past the stall’s tables and chairs to the end to find:
This hidden structure surrounded by shophouses on all four sides is one of Bangkok’s oldest stand-alone cinemas. In its heyday before falling into disrepair, Prince Rama Theater showcased both films and live performances. The theater has been revived once more into a homestay accommodation. Turn left to walk around to its northern side to see its unique art deco sign near the top the of the structure.
Exit the community on the north side of the old theater onto Sri Wiang road. Turn left, walk straight, and cross Charoenkrung road once more at the zebra crossing. Turn right and keep walking north. Look out for an alley with a shiny gold and blue gateway on your left. Turn left into the alley and walk straight until you reach:
While most temples are decorated in gold, Wat Suan Phlu instead chooses a blue hue to accent its mostly white façade and carvings. The result is a unique Thai Buddhist temple that is to be noted for its details, especially on its gables. Community temples often act as an education center as well so be prepared to bump into local children there for school in the temple’s courtyard.
Backtrack out to Charoenkrung road and turn left to continue heading north. Walk past the major T intersection of Charoenkrung road and Silom road. On your left, get some refreshments at:
Cool down and refresh yourself in this cozy café, now a meeting place for many of the youngsters in the area. The café is a fine example of how Bangkokians are now retrofitting older shophouses for new uses.
Continue walking north on Charoenkrung road and turn left into Charoenkrung 40 alley. Keep walking until you see a gate on left that goes to:
This 19th century Romanesque house of worship is the principal Roman Catholic church of Thailand. While its exterior looks relatively new due to renovations, the church’s interior still exudes an aged aura.
Facing away from the cathedral’s main door, walk straight and turn right to exit the compound onto Charoenkrung 40 alley. Then turn left and head towards the Oriental Pier. At the pier, on your left is:
Instantly recognizable by its European architecture, this grand white structure was once the headquarters of the Danish East Asiatic Company. Hans Niels Andersen discovered a need for passenger and freight service lines between Copenhagen and Bangkok and founded the company in late 1800s.
Turn around and walk back until you meet a T intersection. On the northeast corner, find:
This Thai craft store specializes in silverware and shapes almost every item by hand. The local family that runs the enterprise is entirely focused on craftsmanship and quality and shies away from anything flashy that might distract patrons from their products. As you shop, ask the storekeepers on how some of the items are made and you are sure to get an in-depth answer.
Once you exit the store, turn right, and then turn right again to head north. On the northeast corner of the next T intersection, enter into:
The first incarnation of this antique mall was Falck and Beidek department store, one of the first western shopping complex in Bangkok in late 1800s. While the shopping center targets a niche market, anyone can still visit and get a historical experience. Marvel at building’s preserved exterior, photographs of old Bangkok lining the walls of its ground floor, and the still functioning original elevator.
Walk out of the complex through its main doors and turn right to walk out into the street from its driveway. Turn left at the T intersection and walk straight into:
This green oasis was once home to Dr. Boonsoong Lekagul, Thailand’s pioneering conservationist and environmentalist. It is now host to a few eclectic shops, including ATTA Gallery and Serindia Gallery, both of which are part of a growing community of creatives in the area bringing works of artists to the public.
Go back out the way you came and turn right on Charoenkrung 36 alley. On your left at the next T intersection, note the modern architecture of:
France is one of Thailand’s oldest partners in Europe, going way back when a diplomatic delegation sent there from Siam in 1684. Today, the Embassy of France is a symbol of that relationship here in the capital. Its architecture pay homage to and is an interpretation of local traditional Thai houses.
Directly opposite the embassy is:
This local neighborhood eatery is popular amongst those who live and work in the area and specializes in Thai Muslim cuisine. Take a break from the heat and re-energize yourself with a hearty and affordable meal that is a departure from your typical Thai dishes.
Exit the restaurant and turn right and continue all the way towards the river to find:
Arguably one of the most beautiful buildings on the river’s edge in Bangkok, the Old Customs House points to Bang Rak’s historical significance as a trading area and European quarters. This is the point where shipped goods have to go through. The structure was designed by Italian architect Joachim Grassi, who lent his creativity to construction of many important buildings in Bangkok.
Backtrack to the structure’s point of entry and enter a small alleyway on your left. Follow the quiet pathway and turn right at the next alleyway intersection. Keep walking straight and on your right is:
Haroon Mosque is one of Bangkok’s more significant mosques, with a history that showcases migration within the region in the 1800s. Its story crosses three generations, starting with an Indonesian-Arab trader Musa Bafadel arriving in Bang Rak in 1837 and ending with his grandson being responsible for the mosque as it stands today.
Continue past the mosque until the alleyway ends at a T intersection. Turn left to head north and turn right on Charoenkrung 34 alley. Walk toward Charoenkrung main road and turn left. Walk north and on your left is:
This landmark building of a brutalist nature once served as the center where all posts were received and sent out. Today, the building has been revived as a creative hub and office of Thailand Creative and Design Center. Enter the lobby on the left side entrance and head up to the rooftop get a view of Bangkok’s skyline.
Back on Charoenkrung main road, head north and turn left onto Charoenkrung 32 alley. Head towards the river until you see:
The Embassy of Portugal participated in BUKRUK Urban Arts Festival by giving its wall to Thai artists to work on. Kult, Lolay, Sabek, Alex Face, and more joined forces to create a collection on a single wall, showcasing homegrown talent and techniques. Note: beware of touts selling longtail boat tours near the wall.
Turn away from the river, walk straight back toward Charoenkrung road. On your left, look out for:
Warehouse 30 is part of a new wave of developments in the area that’s revitalizing the area. This mix-used compound is made up of old warehouses that has been renovated and retrofitted for shops, cafes, a spa, an event space, a co-working hub, and more. Take a break at Summer Heath or admire handcrafted tables at P.tendercool.
Cut through Warehouse 30’s private road and exit on the north end onto Charoenkrung 30 alley. Turn left and follow the road turn. On your left is:
In 2017, Portuguese artist Vhils came to Bangkok to show his groundbreaking carving technique. Instead of adding to the wall, Vhils strips away to reveal what’s underneath. His work on the Embassy of Portugal wall marries what he has seen in Bang Rak and representations of Portugal into a single image.
Continue walking north on Charoenkrung 30 alley and on your right is:
Preserved and renovated completely in 2016, this building is of historical significance. It was designed of neoclassical architecture, which is clearly evident from its front pediment. Built in the early 1900s, it housed Societe Francaise des Distilleries de l’Indochine (SFDI), a French Corporation that managed alcohol production in Indochina.
Walk north until you see on your left:
In 1984, with Baby Boomers coming of age with their taste for collectibles, River City opened its doors as the go-to antique market and auction house. It has stayed true to its function and is home to a variety of dealers. Over recent years though, River City has begun to draw in contemporary art shops to cater to newer generations. Stop in here for drinks, food, and exhibitions.
Exit on the southern end of River City Bangkok and head to the Klong San river crossing ferry pier. Take a boat across the river. Alight and immediately turn right and walk along the river. On your left is:
Originally a set of unused warehouses, Jam Factory was converted into an architecture firm’s head office. The compound had plenty of space to welcome other businesses, such as restaurants, a bookstore, a café, and a lifestyle shop. The result is a great mixed-use area that’s popular with the next generation. Finish your walking tour here and wind down before going to your next destination.
To get back to Saphan Taksin BTS station, you can get back onto the river crossing ferry and walk back towards House No. 1. Opposite the house is an alley leading to the Si Phraya public boat pier. Take an orange flag public boat to Sathon Pier and walk to the BTS station.