Neilson Hays Library Founded in 1869, the oldest English language library in Thailand which contains over 200,000 books and magazines, making it one of the largest collections of English-language titles in Bangkok. Home to magazines, newspapers and books spanning all genres from fiction to non-fiction. Also containing an on-site coffee shop, art gallery and host to regular second-hand book sales and private events from corporate to weddings.
Old Customs House Built in 1888 in neo-renaissance style by an Italian architect, this historic building was once the gateway to Thailand for ships from foreign countries having to pass through this customs area before entering the city. A new customs house was built at a different port in 1949 leaving this one to decay over time. Now a crumbling old building which funnily enough serves as a residence for members of Bangkok’s fire brigade, this building is still a fine example of nostalgic architecture and is a popular venue for photo shoots as well as a popular backdrop for movies.
Assumption Cathedral Built in early 1900, Assumption Cathedral is the principal Roman Catholic church of Thailand. Inspired by the lingering legacy of French missionaries who arrived into Thailand in the mid 1600’s, Italian architects were responsible for the buildings design. Sustaining damage from bombing during World War 2, the building was restored to its current state seen today. Assumption Cathedral is still the most important Catholic Church in Thailand and even had a visit from Pope John Paul II. A worthy stop to add some architectural and religious diversity.
Bangkokian Museum Built in a westernised style by Chinese craftsmen in 1937, the Bangkokian Museum preserves and shows the lifestyle of a middle-class Thai family in the period of pre and post World War II. Made up of four different buildings, the museum has managed to preserve and exhibit the original artefacts including original furniture and fixings. The collection is all the work of a single family with a remarkable history. A truly insightful and relaxing opportunity to learn about Bangkok in the past centuries, and not to mention a great backdrop for photo opportunities.
Captain Bush House Hidden behind the 19th-century architecture at the north end of Chaeron Krung Road, is a little house with a big history. Known as the Captain Bush House, on the very ironically named Captain Bush Lane, the house was built for one the best known European during the 2nd half of the 19th century. Built in 1857 for Captain Bush, who was hired, by the Rama IV, as the Harbour Master for his experience as an expert sea dog to manage the increasing trade coming from England, China, and India. He reformed the harbour department instantly in 1859, which is still celebrated as the Harbour Department Founding Day. The Captain Bush House, still standing for over 150 years, and recently renovated, the place is one of the key historical must visit locations in Bangkok.
Prince Rama Theatre This little monument is one of those hidden gems, that you will never come across unless you’re a local, or have done a freakishly thorough research on the history of Bangkok. This gem, constructed in 1908, and still preserved as it is for over a century, was the first cinema to have even opened in Bangkok, and probably one of the oldest functioning cinemas in the history of South East Asia. This cinema was first opened when the ideal method of transportation around the city was still the river. Some signs around the theatre are still in Chinese, symbolising how long a Chinese community has been around the area. And if you can find a way to communicate with the people around the theatre, you might just meet a few people who’ve been with the cinema all their lives, and can narrate a few interesting tales…
We Cafe Opposite to the General Post Office on Chaeron Krung Road, hidden behind the usually bustling shops, this café is the absolute definition of the term “hidden gem”. Wood themed, and gorgeously decorated, this café is going to cast a spell of tranquility, and make you come up with excuses to not leave. From the freshly ground coffee beans to their extensive range of English teas, everything fits. If you’re looking to take a break from the hustle bustle of the city to some quiet and peaceful food, the simple and well-executed menu consisting of breakfasts, and some main courses will be very appealing if you’re on a budget.
Harmonique This little treasure, tucked away in an alley of a busy street, bellows with history. The restaurant itself over 20 years old, is based in a building that is over a century old, and interior décor will take you on a trip back in time. One of the rare restaurants around Silom that not only serves a wide variety of Thai food but a true Thai eating experience. In a large group? No problem. From seafood to beef, the shared platters are perfect for a big group. Fair warning – if spicy food is not your forte, tell them. Even their basic dishes can be spicy. The evidence of this can be seen in a warning on the first page of the menu. Traveller beware!
Hobbyist Cafe Facing the intersection from Silom to Chaeron Krung, admittedly a very noisy area, this cosy little café is disconnected from the busyness. Artsy themed and some comfy cushion to lay back on, if you’re looking for a quick break to cool yourself down from the heat, you can choose from a deliciously long list ranging from Oreo Milkshakes, to strawberry smoothies, and snack on some really amazing brownies and cookies. A good place to relax and wind down after a long walk.
Silom Soi 20 A tightly packed side street off Silom Road with a mosque at the centre of the soi and the city’s largest Hindu temple just across the street, which adds to the multiculturalism and diversity of the street food here. Home of a vast range of street vendors and stalls selling authentic cheap Thai-Chinese street food amongst other things like fruit, vegetables, fresh coffee, smoothies and other snacks. Full of locals getting a quick bite in but equally catering to foreigners with most vendors now offering English menus. Experience the authentic street food experience here, sitting on flimsy tables and chairs eating away while observing the madness of motorbikes and tuk-tuks zooming down the packed out road.