Exploring Lhong 1919: The Pier at Chaopraya River Where Chinese Heritage Meets Thai Culture
Chinese culture is not uncommon in Thailand, and Thai people with a Chinese ancestry are everywhere. Often when we think of Chinese people who immigrated to Thailand back in the days, we think of the hustle they went through to build themselves from the ground up, making a name for themselves from basically nothing but a small pillow to sleep on. They’ve drawn inspiration to even the youngest entrepreneurs today, and serve as a good reminder to always work hard and keep your heads up high no matter how dire the situation may be.
With this legacy that makes Thai-Chinese people proud of their upbringing, the old folks also left three major valuables along the shores of Chaopraya River. They’re something to be appreciated, for they are not only rich in culture, but also a history lesson in on itself.
Lhong Pier - An old pier where the ancestors of most Thai-Chinese families first set their feet in Thailand after migrating from China.
Sanhe Yuan Architecture - A three-section residential compound made from bricks, cement, and wood. The unique U-shaped building consists of a central main building and with two wings attached perpendicular to either side. The one at pier was used as a office building and imported goods showroom back in the days.
Mazu Shrine - The Mazu Goddess is believed to bless and look over those who travel at sea.
Over 160 years have passed, and these remains slowly deteriorate through time as the dust covers up what used to be so valuable. That was until the latest generation of the Wang Lee family showed up. They saw value that others didn’t and worked hard until they had enough to restore what was lost over time. The was when Lhong 1919 Heritage at Heart, a celebration of Thai-Chinese history and art by the Chaopraya river, was born.
Nowadays you often see young people who have worked hard to save up a substantial amount of money starting to look back on their family’s estate. Old buildings are transformed into boutique hotels and open spaces by the river quickly become occupied by condominiums. But for the Wang Lee family, they wanted to build something different. The wanted to build a public space for the young people to showcase their talents in music and fine arts. Lhong 1919 was made possible by the hard-working ancestors of the young people, now its time for the young people to make their ancestors proud.
We got off at the pier near Klongsan market and walked towards Somdet Chao Praya Road. As we were following our GPS towards Chiang Mai Alley, we got a chance to see the way of life of communities on the Thonburi side of the river as well. The first thing we saw upon arriving was the Chinese-style commercial building with the original folding partitions unique to Chinese architecture that is becoming very rare to see. As we got to the end of the alley, there’s a dated Chinese building on the right hand side bearing the hand-drawn logo “Lhong 1919” on its cement walls. It truly felt like we traveled through time for a second.
The more we explored the area and buildings, it became more clear that the restoration was made not to just raise awareness of Thai-Chinese culture, but to preserve it for future generations to appreciate. What was already there were fixed up, but maintaining the original structure. What was newly installed, like bathrooms and shops, looked like it was there since the start. This wasn’t a place purposely “made to look old”, it was all made by drawing inspiration from the originals. A very good example of this is are the wall paintings that were originally drawn by the artists from that age. Today, they’re fixed up to look like new using the same ink and colors used back then. Also the restaurant “Rong Si” maintained all the original structure of the old warehouse “Wharf No.41” and used it to create the stylish interior it has today.
The outdoor space covering the long rectangular area from the Sanhe Yuan building all the way to the riverside warehouse gives people space to hang out and chill. The surrounding buildings and warehouse provided the perfect acoustics for everyone around the area. If you were feeling tired and wanted to grab a drink and chill in the breeze by the river, this area is the place to be.
We recommend you make your visit just before sunset as it is the time when almost all the restaurants are open at full capacity. You will fall in love with the romantic evening atmosphere and appreciate the cooler weather when you walk around to explore.
You can get to Lhong 1919 multiple ways:
1. By boat:
Lhong 1919 provides you with a Free shuttle boat ride. You can find the ferry bearing the location’s logo at either Sathon pier or Si Phraya Pier.
2. By BTS:
The closest BTS station is the Krung Thon Buri station. From there you can either take the taxi, uber, or bus.
3. By car:
If you decide to drive, please note there is quite a limited parking space. Parking is free the 1st hour and will cost you 50 THB for every hour after. If you make over 500 THB of purchases in the complex, you can get a parking stamp for 3 hours of free parking.