Silom (Thai: สีลม) is the closest Bangkok gets to Wall Street, with glistening skyscrapers all boasting the names of financial institutions. However, the character of the area changes after nightfall: the small sois between Silom Road and Surawong Road come alive with people who are out for a good time, and Patpong's well-known "red light" district is often a sought-out location. The former trade quarter Bang Rak (บางรัก) is also included here and is home to many of Bangkok's top luxury hotels, such as the Oriental.
In the 19th century, daily life in Bangkok mostly took place on and around the canals. Silom was rural farmland with rice fields, orchards, and windmills criss-crossed by canals. During this era, most urban life happened on the riverside, which was a busy trading quarter welcoming European merchant ships and envoys. This area, known as Bang Rak, still has a kind of European atmosphere with many exclusive colonial-style hotels and old abandoned warehouses. Silom ("windmills" in Thai) has changed immensely with in modern times. Charoen Krung Road (New Road) was the first paved road in Bangkok, built in 1861 during the reign of King Rama IV at the request of foreign consuls who wanted to ride their horses and carriages. Over time, most of the canals have disappeared and turned into roads.
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