There is no better way to experience the intricacies of a city than walking, period. And while crossing streets or maneuvering narrow sois in Bangkok can take the form of a modern-day, live action game of Frogger, once you accept the decrepit sidewalks, constant dodging, heat and pollution, an afternoon walk is a fabulous cultural and healthy Bangkok experience.
One of the best areas to go on a self-paved walking tour is around the older areas of Rattanakosin. Balancing a pleasurable mix of culture and food is Tanao Road, which many people know as the intersection at the base of Khaosan Road. If you follow the road south past Ratchadamnoen Klang Road, there is an easy half-day walk to occupy your time that we are dubbing KohSpot Walking Tour, v.1.
Starting at the intersection of Tanao and Ratchadamnoen Klang is the October 14, 1973 memorial to the student uprising that helped to overthrow one of several oppressive military regimes Thailand has experienced since declaring democracy. It’s a nifty and sobering history lesson for the unaware: a mix of sculpture, photography and newspaper accounts of the showdown. As recently as 2008, Thailand’s former prime minister Samak Sundaravej denied the massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators in October 1976 at Thammasat University, and repeatedly justified the use of force to suppress democracy activists, so memorials like this are still relevant.
Now that your mind is fed, time to fill the belly.
Start walking south down Tanao Road to the first khlong, and just past it at the corner of Trok Sathian is a kuay tiaw khua gai (broad noodles stir-fried with chicken and egg) stand that manages to infuse the noodles with the smoky metal flavor of the wok, which KohSpot considers the most vital requirement for this dish (30 baht).
Keep walking along Tanao until you encounter the bustle of vendors selling gifts to the tiger god at the 170-year-old Chao Por Sua shrine on your right-hand side. This place is notable for its chaos, as the temple is a mess of incense and people moving in every direction as they offer bacon, eggs, cooking oil and oranges to the gods. I would be hungry again if not for the voluminous number of rats that wait until nightfall to gobble up all the offerings. Sometimes ngiw, traditional Chinese staged performances are held at a small stage to the left as you enter.
Continue further south to Chote Chitr on Phraeng Phuthon, as this area is often used as a backdrop by Thai soap operas for its turn-of-the-century Chinese shophouses. This area is also one of the few that KohSpot has found with traditional khanom bueang, the small taco-like snacks that are either sweet with yellow duck egg or orange and salty.
Round up your trip at Wat Ratchabophit, a good 10-minute walk from Phraeng Phuthon further south along Tanao Road. Often featured as a stop on Quiet Bangkok tours, this temple is listed as one of the nine holiest in Bangkok for the nine Kings, but for whatever reason is usually ignored by residents, maybe because it’s right next to a military building. While it does have beautiful architecture, we like it because unlike most temples in Bangkok it allows you to reflect and relax because of the silence, despite being in the middle of a busy section of Rattanakosin.
Living in Bangkok, its easy to get in a routine or rut – so get out those kicks, hydrate, and get outside. Never forget how interesting this city can be; all it takes is an open mind, a couple hours, and a leisurely walk. We encourage you to check out our KohSpot Walking Tour, absolutely free! However, we imagine you’ll find your own bends, restaurants, and photo-opps along the way. Go Outside!
Let us know you’re favorite place to walk in Bangkok.
KohSpot Walking Tour v.1
Location: Tanao Road from Ratchadamnoen Klang Road to Rat Bophit Road
Mass transit: Khlong taxi to Ratchadamnoen Klang Road