Phra Khanong is a large district (Khet), one of 50 in Bangkok, and a long street from Sukhumvit 71 to Ramkhamhaeng avenue. The word Khanong originates from kmer language and means eyebrow but it was later hypothesized that it may be from Khanon meaning custom house. More than a thousand years ago under the Kmer Empire, this area was an important gateway to the sea.
Past, Present, Future, Cheap Hostels
The market is very close to the BTS station of the same name. No big shopping center, a lively area where you meet the past, the present, and, the troublesome future. Despite the fact that the BTS has changed the physiognomy of the area as well as real estate prices, the apartments for rent or buy are still cheap compared to the close neighborhoods, and many foreigners live there. The budget travelers will also find nice cheap hostels and middle price range hotel.
Muslim and Burmese community
Do not be surprised to hear the call to prayer. A large Muslim community lives there, and also Burmese language, who among a large number who have fled their country some have settled in the neighborhood.
Perfume, Sa-Leng, and Small Canal
This time I chose to go for a walk around there. I used the BTS and at Phra Khanong station went down the stairs exit 3, then on my right, up to the soi 71, I crossed the road, and on my way to the Soi Pridi Banomyong 2, I noticed two stalls but from different shops that sold perfume made me stop. I read their sign that mentioned that the perfume was imported from France, OK. Walking in the soi Pridi Banomyong, I met a Sa-Leng who are individuals recyclable waste collectors moving around small soi and generally on modified motor-bikes (Sa-Leng) recognizable by their distinctive bike horn sounds. They Scavenge plastic bottles, aluminum cans, paper, metal, etc. He said hello to me, he was carrying his hard work on his overloaded Sa-Leng to a scrap dealer and seemed in a hurry. I kept walking and near the end of the soi was a small canal, out of curiosity went down the few steps, and walked along for more than ten minutes. I was surprised by the fact that there were no bad smells but felt a strange feeling, alone in this place, not a sound, walking the back of houses and sometimes hear life inside. I got in a soi, passed in front of the modern mosque and further on there was a small craftsman who made some kind of cage out of bamboo slats, I had never seen that and asked this gentleman what it was for, he told me it was called the golden mountain and was traditionally used for a Chinese funeral. Once finished will be covered with cardboard paper and then thin gold sheets and sent to the temple.
Phra Khanong soi 71 is first and foremost is the market. Also, I left the soi Banomyong to the soi Chai Tam at the angle of the seven eleven and get in a world that makes me forget where I was a few minutes ago. A market where you can find everything and anything about cheap clothes, a little unusual small beauty salon, kitchenware, fabric, flowers, religious objects, of course, stalls of fresh fruits and vegetables, raw meat, seafood. Please do not hesitate to visit this low-class wet market, take your time, and photos, in general, Thai people don’t care much about it, however, it is possible that under certain circumstances people do not appreciate, so be discreet and smile. Bustling early morning, quieter in the afternoon, lively in the evening. Some small restaurants in the middle, however, be careful some dishes can be spicy, but also you could if you wish to taste the Burmese cuisine that I do not know much, to discover.
Life Along the Klong
After crossing the market, I finally reached the Klong. I Walked along to the pumping station and then get in the labyrinth of the Small alleys where old traditional houses resist the invasion of large very threatening urban buildings. I met very few people, but one aged man which I approached and asked him about this, he said that he was not too worried and confident he will finish his days where he always lived. He told me that when he was young, life was mainly on the Klong, fruits, vegetables and food vendors, fishermen, and small local transport boats, but that there were also floods during the rainy season, whose last serious one was in 2011.
There is still a daily longtail boat transport service from the pier located under the bridge which goes to Srinakarin near the Seacon shopping commercial center, every half hour from 07.00 to 09.00, then every hour until 12.00 and in the afternoon every 2 hours, the last boat 18.00, trip 20 to 30 minutes,15 baht. You can within a few minute’s boat ride from there go to visit the legendary ghost shrine of Mae Nak at Wat Maha But. It is also on this Klong that one of the most important pumping stations in the city was built to control water flow, and currently, an electric power cable tunnel (5.3 km) project is under construction.
Life Under a Bridge
The part of the neighborhood that amazes me the most is the life of a small community that has settled under the bridge along the Klong, which is also a U-turn, traffic all day long. Fruits and vegetable stalls, soup vendors, hairdressers, a fortune-teller who also does massages and more surprising removes gray hair. Opposite a die gambling shop, a game called hi-low played with three dice and adding up the sums. A sum of 12 – 18 is “high,” 3 – 10 is “low,” and 11 is “Hi-Low.”, normally forbidden by law. The owner was very busy reading his newspaper and was not paying attention to my presence, so I went to the store where the sign says they were manufacturing dice. After telling the vendor that I would buy the complete set, 250 Baht, (I was not in the mood to bargain), he gave me some explanations how to play, he also told me that a “casino” was open 24/24 in the market, I said I would like to go there to see but he did not specify me where it was. A few steps further, a car attracted my attention, an Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, the rest of one of the rare cars of the glorious American and European years in Thailand, before the Japanese, took over the car market in the 80s. A discovery for me, I wanted to know more but the owner was not there, the dice seller told me it is for sale 250,000 baht (eight thousand US$). On the way back to Phra Khanong soi 71 by the soi that runs along the bridge, I took the time to stop in a shop of medicinal plants, the herbalist briefly explained to me that what he was preparing was a female remedy for blood pressure and painful periods. Boil 2 to 3 hours and consume within 7 days, once a month. I asked him for the composition, he kindly answered that there were plants, roots, barks of wood, and flowers without further details.
W District Bars and Food Shops
On my way to the BTS station, to the right, in the middle of gigantic towers, is the W District, a small open-air square with many tables surrounded by small shops, which comes alive at night, sometimes with live bands. A wide variety of food, Thai, Indian, French, Spanish, Kebab, Pizza, Japanese, Mexican, beer and wine, many foreigners, expatriates, and tourists, not the best food in town but moderate prices and good atmosphere. There is also a hotel called Beat, and few cheap hostels in the adjacent Sois. From Sukhumvit Road, at the entrance leading to the square is a large white alien statue and left where there is graffiti, are there toilets that may be welcome after a long walk.
Open 16.00 Close at midnight every day
Daily Life and Photos
A stroll in the Phra Khanong market and its small alleys around, the daily life of the local people, is a walk to do to get away from the frenzy of the city and escape into a forgotten Bangkok by Bangkokians and ignored by tourists, also to take pictures that will complete your photos album in a pleasant and enriching way. I like the local life of these small peaceful neighborhoods which remains the real Bangkok, and I am happy to have spent 4 hours there and I intend to go again.
Easy to Get There
BTS Phra Khanong station
From airport Railway link
You can go there from the station Ramkhamaeng station by taxi around 80 to 100 baht or bus number 71 and 40
I hope this will be useful to you in planning your next trip to Bangkok. If you have any questions, I will be more than happy to help you out.
Your support messages and comments are always welcome.