We know there’s so much to do and see in Bangkok but only a few travelers really get to explore the old town, its charming old communities and beautiful restored buildings. Here’s what to do for a few days in Bangkok, whether you’re a new visitor or a Bangkokian that’s hoping to fall in love with the city all over again.
On Lok Yoon
Travel back in time at this breakfast spot and eat like how it was in the Bangkok of old. For the past 80 years, this cornershop has been serving classic breakfast staples, such as their popular steamed bread with custard dip. It’s a great spot to start the day and do a bit of people-watching.
72 Charoen Krung Rd.
Open Mon – Sun 06:00 – 14:30
Bite Me Softly
Situated in a narrow residential alley, this cute cafe serves hearty, home-cooked fare in a bright, sunlit space. The menu boasts tasty Asian-inspired comfort dishes such as mala beef stew over rice, spicy stir-fried duck with garlic and chili pasta, and pumpkin curry with salmon steak over rice. Their desserts are worth a look, too. The Nishio matcha latte cake, tofu with peanut and ginger sauce, and indulgent chocolate cake come highly recommended.
1/1 Kaijae Lane
Open Tue – Sun 10:00 – 17:00
The Gingerbread House
A century-old wooden house on Dinso Road has been converted into this cafe-slash-museum that houses antique furniture and bric-a-brac, and serves traditional homemade Thai desserts plus a few Western sweets. This spot is your chance to enjoy an idyllic afternoon like the nobles of the past did.
47 Dinso Rd.
Open Mon – Sun 11:00 – 20:00
Who doesn’t want to visit a chocolate factory? This cafe and factory details the “bean to bar” process of making chocolate with locally sourced cacao. Paradai is driven by young Thais who want to highlight the world-class qualities of Thai cacao. Sample all kinds of treats and drinks made with this local ingredient, such as indulgent bon bons and rich hot chocolate. You can even take home some as gifts for your loved ones.
97 Tanao Rd.
Open Mon – Sun 07:00 – 20:00
With only two tables, dining at this cozy little eatery on Soi Sam Sen 2 can be tricky. (You may have to make a reservation weeks or even months prior to your visit.) Rest assured, the meal is very rewarding. The entire experience, from the food to the simple but well-curated decor, feels like dining at the residence of a friend or family. The menu revolves around home-style staples, such as stir-fried pork neck with shrimp paste, deep fried pork balls, rice with crab meat salad, and salted beef in coconut cream.
372 Samsen 2 Alley
Open Wed – Sun 12:00 – 14:00, 17:00 – 20:00
If you like gathering over simple but tasty food and cheap beers, this unpretentious shack by the Chao Phraya River is perfect for you. Regulars fill up the spot before the sun even sets to enjoy, aside from the F&B offerings, the spectacular view and its easy access to the ferry pier.
62/1 Wat Suan Phlu Alley
Open Mon – Sun 11:00 – 00:00
This one-of-a-kind cocktail bar on Phra Sumen Road welcomes drink enthusiasts and cocktail connoisseurs. Just like the place itself, the drinks are minimally presented, but are big on complex flavors. The stories behind each drink usually revolve around local Bangkok finds and hyperlocal ingredients from all over Thailand.
469 Phra Sumen Rd.
Wed – Sun 19:00 – 00:00
Pipit Banglamphu Museum
This lesser-known museum focuses on Banglamphu, one of Bangkok’s oldest neighborhoods. Situated near Phra Sumen Fort by the Chao Phraya River (a great spot to witness the sunset, by the way), it is housed in a building that was once the printing school of the treasury department. Now revamped, it tells the history of Rattanakosin, the department, and of the area’s unique heritage and residents.
Phra Sumen Rd.
Open Tue – Sun 08:30 – 16:30
Art Gallery at Ban Chao Phraya
Many members of the royal family and notable figures in recent history were once residents at this former riverside palace. Part of it has been transformed into an art gallery that displays work by both prominent and up-and-coming artists. The gallery is also an educational space where you can learn about the community’s rich heritage amidst greenery.
49 Phra Athit Rd.
Open Mon – Wed 10:00 – 18:00
Baan Mowaan (Bamrungchat Satsana Yathai Pharmacy)
In a narrow alley, steps away from the Giant Swing, lies a colonial-style building that has housed a pharmacy for many decades and, more recently, a small museum. The pharmacy still sells traditional Thai medicine under the brand Mowaan, while the museum tells us how the descendants of Waan Rod-Muang have continued to promote the famed doctor’s legacy of advocating age-old medicinal products such as herbal powder yahom.
Bamrung Muang Rd.
Open Mon – Sun 09:00 – 17:00
This independent bookshop on Phra Sumen Road is popular with the bookworms of Bangkok. Every nook and cranny is crammed with tomes in both Thai and English, from travel-related books to historical narratives to rare finds you wouldn’t see anywhere else in the city. The owner is friendly and always happy to recommend a good read. On the second floor is a lovely attic-like space where you can relax and peruse through your buy.
523 Phra Sumen Rd.
Open Mon – Sun 11:00 – 19:00
What was once a heritage residence in Nang Loeng area is now a cultural hub and multipurpose space with a cause. Bangkok 1899 hosts activities and events related to art, social issues and sustainability, such as exhibitions, pop-up dinners that feature food cooked by refugees and farmers, and a crafts market. Drop by to engage with empowering individuals who want to contribute to the city’s sustainable growth.
134 Nakhon Sawan Rd.
Open Tue – Sun 11:00 – 19:30
Not exactly a cafe, nor is it fully a grocery store. It’s more like a cool place where you can spend all day and night grazing on small plates with homemade ingredients like jam, sausage and cheese, or browse through indie magazines, household items and flowers. When the sun sets, the space turns into Kang Kao, a wine bar with focus on natural wine and special bottles from around the world.
96/2 Thanon Chakkraphatdi Phong
Open Wed – Mon 10:00 -17:00
Mahanak Fruit Market
Most locals would recommend a visit to Pak Klong Talad or the flower market in Bangkok’s old town. While it’s worth a gander, we also think you should make time for the Mahanak Fruit Market. Open round the clock everyday, it’s one of the largest markets of its kind in Bangkok. Choose from all kinds of fruits delivered from all over the country. Some stalls will offer to cut the fruits for you to try and enjoy right there and then.
292/10 Luk Luang Rd.
Open Mon – Sun 24 Hours
Buddha & Pals Café and Jazz Bar
The old buildings in Bangkok old town never lose their charm, and become even more charming when music filter out of their windows and through their walls. Buddha & Pals, set in the building where Kanvela Hostel is also situated, is a cafe by day but gets all jazzy when dusk sets. Come feel the friendly vibes and enjoy music from live bands.
712 Krung Kasem Rd.
Open Mon – Sun 10:00 – 19:00
Which hidden gems can you explore next?
There’s still more to uncover in Bangkok. Learn the many secrets of the city’s urban communities on GOJO’s half-day tours!