Wander around the Creative District and you will stumble onto a few hidden historical gems. Clustered near the Mandarin Oriental are structures that hint heavily on the area’s past as a gathering place for European residents and visitors of mid-19th century Bangkok. The old East Asiatic Company’s headquarter, Old Customs House, and the French Embassy are prime examples. Rightfully on that list is O.P. Place, one of Bangkok’s first department stores.
Tucked in Charoenkrung Soi 38, O.P. Place is easily missed from the main artery of Charoenkrung. As you turn into the soi, the stately European neoclassical structure appears, white and immaculate. Almost unchanged since it was first constructed in 1878, the structure was known then as Falck and Beidek department store. Its nickname was “Hang Sing Toh”, translated to “lion mall”, due to the lionhead keystone decorations on the external walls. Enter into the lobby and you will be struck by the old elevator with manual accordion folding gate still in operation. A turn around the lobby floor reveals a series of photographs of old Bangkok on the walls with clear descriptions that inadvertently turns O.P. Place into a mini museum. In 1982, O.P. Place was awarded the Association of Siamese Architects Architectural Conservation Award for retaining so much of the past.
Today, the complex hosts many boutique shops selling high-end antiques and collectibles. Other goods include artifacts, handicrafts, home décor items, hand-woven silk, custom-made furniture, fine jewelry, and more. The relaxing atmosphere makes for a slow afternoon shopping trip. Should you find yourself worried about the antiques’ authenticity, you can inquire if the piece you are interested in has been issued with a certificate from Thailand’s Fine Arts Department.