Yaowarat and Phahurat (Thai: เยาวราชและพาหุรัด) is Bangkok's multicultural district, located west of Silom and southeast of Rattanakosin. Yaowarat Road is the home of Bangkok's sizeable Chinese community, while those of Indian ethnicity have congregated around Phahurat Road. By day, Yaowarat doesn't look that much different from any other part of Bangkok, though the neighbourhood feels like a big street market and there are some hidden gems waiting to be explored. But at night, the neon signs blazing with Chinese characters are turned on and crowds from the restaurants spill out onto the streets, turning the area into a miniature Hong Kong (minus the skyscrapers). Phahurat is an excellent place for buying fabrics, accessories and religious paraphernalia. A visit to the area is not complete without having some of its amazing delicacies that sell for an absolute bargain — such as bird's nest soup or some Indian curries.
Compared to the rest of the city, this district is fairly compact and can best be explored in a full-day (and night) walking tour. You'll come across street markets, shophouses, gold shops, beautiful remnants of colonial-style architecture and some interesting temples. Instead of tramping from temple to temple, this neighbourhood is mostly about catching a brief peek into commercial Bangkok as it has been the last two centuries. Rushing through won't be rewarding—take your time instead, sitting at a plastic chair and watching local traders sell their wares. As the street markets are not targeted to foreigners, you will find a wide array of products: ceramics, fabrics, gold, tacky teenager ware, ant-killer chalk, Bollywood films, ginseng roots. Who knows what you'll end up with at the end of the day. It is best to come during weekdays, as many stores close during the weekends. Also keep in mind that most shops close at 17:00 after which most of the area gets pretty much deserted (Yaowarat Road being a noteworthy exception).
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