#SundayWellSpent: Exploring the Essentials of “Soi Nana Yaowarat” - The Coolest Street in Chinatown
Imagine waking up to a beautiful Sunday morning, what will you make of it? Some of us decide to take the time to give themselves a treat with a good book, productive workout session, a trending movie, a shopping spree, or even more sleep. All that in themselves are great ways to relax your mind and body and fill your heart with happiness, but those can’t be the only options. Now, imagine yourself strolling down a lively street filled with all kinds of shops, food vendors, and activities that you love all in one place. Not bad for a Sunday as well right?
In the edition of #SundayWellSpent, we’re bringing you to Soi Nana, one of the city’s most popular hangout spot at the moment. The street is located on Yaowarat Road in Chinatown, and it contains an eclectic mix of establishments that will ensure an interesting day for you. Back during the first half of the 1900s, Soi Nana was the hub of classic Chinese herbal shops (that are mostly still in business today!) before Chinatown went through a gradual decline that left the street of Soi Nana quiet for decades. Now, this charming neighborhood has been transformed into one of Bangkok’s more popular weekend destination and go-to nightlife spot with brand-new bars, art galleries, restaurants, and co-working spaces popping up in every corner.
We’ve picked out 13 of the best things to do around Soi Nana Yaowarat for you. Be sure to take your time and take in all the traditional Chinese atmosphere and modern-day hip vibes that you can while spending a perfect Sunday down in one of the coolest place in Chinatown.
Wanderlust Coffee & Eatery
Just about 100 meters into Soi Nana you will find a modern-looking cafe with an industrial-style architecture and gray color tone. The 2nd floor is home to the 2W Hostel, a lively accommodation popular among tourists. The cafe itself is well-known for being a true coffee professional. From the beans to the machines, you can find only the best brewing within these walls. There's also a Melbourne fusion brunch menu and a variety of bakery items available to pair with your favorite cup of coffee. If you're not a coffee person we recommend the Ready Cocoa (140 THB), a choco-banana frappe dressed with coconut sprinkles, granola, and fresh strawberries. Refreshing to say the least!
Chula Fashion Bangkok
Chula is a women's fashion brand born from the love for Vietnam's rich history and culture. After living in Hanoi for over 14 years, the Spanish owner was able to come up with unique designs using traditional Vietnamese silk. This brand also supports creating job opportunities for people with disabilities, opening up over 75% of the team for this cause. There are currently 4 other Chula stores, other than the one in Soi Nana, located in Madrid, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh, and Hoi An.
Chang Antique Shop
If you're looking to add to your antique collection, this little shop at the corner of the Soi Nana-Matri Chit Road intersection has it all. Inside, you'll find all sorts of interesting things including dated alcohol bottles, tea sets, statues, lamps, wooden clocks, vases, and even Buddhas. Each is priced according to the status and age, some of them are definitely a rare find. If you've got a few hours to spare, why not have a little antique tour and a chat with the owner about his finds before hitting the bars in the evening?
103 Bed and Brews
If you’re looking for great coffee, but also want to try something new, 103 Bed and Brews is the place to be. The coffee shop is set within a classic Chinese tea house that also happens to be a herbal shop as well. Inside, you’ll find the original classic folding doors and wooden furniture decorated with modern artworks and herb baskets, giving this cafe/hostel its signature look. The menu consists of mostly Thai cuisine with a few bakery items such as brownies, muffins, tarts, and croissants. The highlight of the drinks menu will have to be the Cold Brew that comes off a fresh tap. If you’re not into coffee, the bright purple Unchan+Lemon Soda (100 THB) is the one to choose to fight off the scorching Bangkok weather.
Just about 350 meters from Soi Nana you’ll find a bright yellow homemade ice-cream shop inside Soi Sukon 1. Scoopp’s ice-cream are all made from scratch and they’ve created over 100 flavors to-date and don’t seem to be stopping their creativity anytime soon. They focus on using only the best ingredients and always put in a generous amount to ensure their signature intense ice cream flavor that everybody just falls in love with. Of all those options, around 60 are chosen to be displayed for your selection each day. Classics like Milk & Brownie, Choco Banana, Banoffee, Marmalade, and Melon go for 30 THB a scoop, while the more premium options like Peach Yogurt, Popcorn Cheese, Matcha Green Tea & Charcoal, and Coffee Macchiato Walnut go for 55 THB a scoop.
This flower shop hiding within Soi Nana completely transformed an old Chinese teahouse into a fashion outlet with an industrial style decor. Contrary to other flower shops, this place focuses on wildflowers and a variety of herbs for their unique arrangements into bouquets, baskets, glass domes, and many more. The pricing for the flower arrangements starts at 1,500 THB, and if you’re interested in learning the craft, you can also sign up for a private workshop that goes for 7,000 - 15,000 a class. The 2nd floor is home to Nana Coffee Roasters cafe and 3rd floor is a rooftop bar called Wallflowers Upstairs. All three floors are decorated to the same theme, so whether you’re here for a bouquet of flowers, a cup of coffee, or a refreshing cocktail, you’re bound for a pleasant flowery atmosphere.
Yaowarat Chinatown Heritage Museum
About 450 meters from Soi Nana, you’ll find Wat Trimitr or also known as “The Golden Buddha Temple”. This historic temple features a gilded exterior and houses the world's largest massive golden statue of Buddha measuring nearly five meters in height and weighing five and a half tons. The heritage museum lies on the 2nd floor of the building and tells the story of the original Chinese settlers in Chinatown up until the modern day. There’s a total of 6 exhibitions inside, each presented in a way that is easy to digest even with foreigners. The 3rd floor houses the Phra Buddha Maha Suwanna Pati Makorn exhibition, a primer to the giant golden Buddha on the 4th floor. Admission fee is 40 THB for just seeing the Buddha and an extra 100 THB for access to the entire museum, while Thai people can enter for free.
This bar and restaurant around the corner of Maitrichit intersection not far from Soi Nana is a redesign of an old building from the Rama 7 era. Ban Maitrichit attracts the passersby with its white-cream exterior color and antique western architecture. As of now only the first floor and the rooftop are open for use, while the 2nd and 3rd floor are still under reconstruction. The food menu mostly consists of casual Thai dishes such as sun-dried beef, Northern Thai Sausage, and grilled pork neck. We recommend the Brandy Pork Ribs (180 THB) made with premium pork ribs and rich brandy sauce. Aside from the wide craft beer selection, wines, coffee, and tea are also available upon request. Great food with the beautiful view of the lively Maitrichit intersection from the rooftop, now that’s a perfect Sunday dinner.
Píjiǔ Bar is a craft beer bar with a classic Chinese tavern vibe. Inside, you’ll find simple, yet interesting decors such as vintage beer advertisement posters, old phones, lamps, wooden chairs, and wooden counter bar. Each day the bartender writes up the craft beer list in a unique Chinese-style font on the blackboard. The bar serves up 7 craft beers on tap along with over 60 types of bottles, including lagers, ales, IPAs, and ciders. Beers aside, a recommended menu here would be the China Town Cold Cut (small 190 THB, Large 300 THB) that consists of only the best Chinatown has to offer including smoked duck, smoked pork, sliced pork jerky, Chinese sausage, and rice crackers that goes extremely well with the ice-cold beer.
Teens of Thailand
Mid-way through Soi Nana, you’ll come up close to one of the most popular gin bar in Thailand. Teens of Thailand was one of Asia’s 50 Best Bars in 2016 and voted the best cocktail bar by The Bar Awards Bangkok in 2017. Be sure to pay attention while looking for this place as the thick wooden doors at the entrance can disguise its location. Inside, you’ll find the walls fashionably decorated with old movie posters and the area occupied with candles, a piano, and magazines blanketed in soft red lighting. The cocktail selection rotates differently every day, with gin being the only constant theme. You’ll always be greeted with a fresh new creation every time you come around.
Asia Today was born with the mission to highlight local Thai ingredients by using them the spice up all their cocktail creations, drawing plenty of interest from the nightlife crowd. Located just across from Teens of Thailand, this rum bar is perfectly decorated from head to toe with red-pink neon signs, Pulp Fiction movie banners, and portraits of beautiful ladies. The recommended cocktails are Collins (340 THB), a mixture of wild chrysanthemum from Chiang Rai, rum, lime, egg whites, and soda, and Khaoyai (360 THB), a simple and smooth blend of honey from Khaoyai, run, and lime.
Jan Lek Jan Noi
This charming little cafe might be closed on Sundays, but Jan Lek Jan Noi is the type of place you’d want to drop by any day. Just 300 meters into Soi Nana is home to one of the greatest ceramics collection in Bangkok. Whether it's brand-new or secondhand, you can be sure that all the ceramics are imported from Europe or Japan and that each piece has been meticulously selected by the owners themselves. The interior is designed with pastel tone complemented with cute patterns on the floor. The ceramics are beautifully lined up shelves and also used for serving up the snacks. The drinks menu focuses on coffee and tea, and the highlight is the silky and smooth Iced Milk Tea (60 THB). Order a serving of toasts and toppings (25-55 THB) with it, and you’ve got yourself an afternoon snack. Freshly made sandwiches and scones are also up for grabs all day long.
The Original Shops
After sifting through all the newer places in the area, let’s not forget all the original shops that are still doing business until today. There’s a whole cascade of old vendors hiding inside all the buildings and homes inside Soi Nana, still displaying their goods in the same ways as they did back in the days. But this is what sets them aside from the other family-run businesses around the country and also what makes Chinatown one of the most charming and timeless destinations in Thailand. Take your time while strolling down the lane of history and memories, take in all the magic and charm of this old town and you might start to see the beauty in the things you’ve looked over before.