EXPLORING FOOD AND THE HISTORICAL BUILDINGS OF SAM PHRAENG NEIGHBOURHOOD IN BANGKOK OLD TOWN

Sam Phraeng is the collective name of the three side roads made during the reign of King Rama V the Great to link Tanao and Atsadang Roads.
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The lanes run through the grounds of three royal palaces that belonged to King Rama IV the Great’s three sons: Prince Narathip Praphanphong, Prince Sappasarttra Supaki,t and Prince Bhudhares Dhamrongsakdi. Each was named after one of the three princes.
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This historical neighbourhood is located behind the Supreme Court and Ministry of Defence buildings. It is one of Bangkok’s oldest trade districts and was once home to well-known restaurants, gold shops and stores, especially those selling uniforms and equipment for the military and police. Siam’s first theatre for musicals, Pridalai, was located at Phraeng Nara.

Sam Phraeng neighbourhood is located in the subdistrict of San Chao Pho Suea. It’s easily accessible by MRT. If you get off at Sam Yot Station, take Exit 3 and walk toward the Si Kak Phraya Si Intersection then turn left into Fuang Nakhon Road and continue on for about 700 metres. If you choose the Sanam Chai Station, walk towards Saranrom Park and turn into Asadang Road. You can start from any of the three lanes depending on what’s most convenient for you, or the way from which you are approaching the area. We set off at Phraeng Sappasat.
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Phraeng Sappasat
1 Pray for prosperity at San Chao Pho Suea – Tiger God Chinese Shrine.
2 Admire the beautiful Sappasat Palace Gate.
3 Order a takeaway at Guichai Khun Mae – Garlic Chive Dumplings by mother.
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Phraeng Nara
4 Be awed by the Talapat Suksa School – formerly Siam’s first musical theatre.
5 Sample Guay Tiew Nai Mak – Nai Mak’s noodle shop.
6 Have a sweet treat at Ran Khanom Wan Lung Daeng – Uncle Daeng’s Thai dessert shop.

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Phraeng Phuthon
7 Order mango sticky rice for takeaway at Kor Panich.
8 Chill out at Chikatcha Café.
9 Check out 1905 Heritage Corner & Café.
10 Try grilled buns at Phuthon Bar.

San Chao Pho Suea – Tiger God Chinese Shrine 
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This shrine is one of the most respected places of worship for Thais of Chinese descent. It’s always busy with worshippers, especially during the Chinese New Year. It was built during the reign of King Rama III and was originally located on Bamrung Muang Road before moving to its present location during the reign of King Rama V the Great. The Shrine has features that are commonly found in the south of China. Photos are prohibited inside.
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Open daily from 6:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Location 468 Tanao Road, San Chao Pho Suea, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok

Sappasat Palace Gate
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The Gate is the only remnant of the royal residence, which was destroyed by fire. It is now supported by brick columns and has become the landmark of the Sam Phraeng neighbourhood. You can see the almost life- sized woman holding a lamp on the Gate’s French arch. The palace was said to be very grand with marble paving al the paths from the entrance to the royal residence of the prince, who was keen on cameras and also Siam’s first cinematographer. 

Stroll along the lane to see the community and take a picture of the Gate on the wall of the Oyo Bright Minitel. There’re also a few food shops, cafes and accommodation. Our favourite place is Charm-Learn Studio, a ceramic shop and studio. Drop by to have a look or talk to the friendly owner if you’re interested in crafted ceramics.
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Location Phraeng Sappasat Road, San Chao Pho Suea, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok

Guichai Khun Mae – Garlic Chive Dumplings by mother 

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This famous shop selling garlic chives dumplings is on Tanao Road. It’s on the right as you walk back to the palace gate. The shop was started nine years ago by Khun Mae — mother in Thai — whose dumpling recipe was so delicious that her children encouraged her to open her own business. The rest is history.
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The dough is delicate and tender and you can choose from four fillings: garlic chives, taro, Mexican yam and bamboo shoot.

Open daily from 5:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Tel. 081 303 0022
Location 520 Tanao Road, San Chao Pho Suea, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok

Talapat Suksa School – formerly Siam’s first musical theatre
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When you arrive at Phraeng Nara, one particular building definitely draws your attention. This unkempt yet elegant structure was part of the royal palace of Prince Narathip Praphanphong, who was recognised for his talent as a playwright, particularly of musicals. He established his own troupe and opened Siam’s first theatre for musicals called Pridalai, which was later turned into the Talapat Suksa School.
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The School was closed in 1995, and the building is not open for public visits.
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Location Phraeng Nara Road, San Chao Pho Suea, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok

Phraeng Nara is lined with dozen of beautiful shophouses, which fuse European and Chinese designs commonly known as the Sino-Portuguese style.

Guay Tiew Nai Mak – Nai Mak’s Noodle shop
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This noodle shop has been around for 70 years, and now also has many branches. 

Freshly made fish dumplings and fish noodles are the specialty of this well-known shop of Phraeng Nara. Don’t miss the chance to try its noodles when you’re here. 
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Open daily 9:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Tel. 02 222 0093, 086 616 5340
Location 62 Phraeng Nara Road, San Chao Pho Suea, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok

Ran Khanom Wan Lung Daeng – Uncle Daeng’s Thai dessert shop 
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This humble shop has been in business for half a century and offers a variety of Thai desserts. Highly recommended if you want to try authentic Thai desserts that are much loved by local residents. 

Our orders were all mouth-watering! They were subtly fragrant with coconut milk and not sugary.

There are also many choices of traditional sweet treats and they all look yummy!
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Open daily from 9:00 a.m. – 3.00 p.m.
Tel. 02 622 0404
Location 106 Phraeng Nara Road, San Chao Pho Suea, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok

Kor Panich – mango sticky rice 
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This is the mango season and we insist you visit Kor Panich on Thanao Road while on the way to the last community at Phraeng Phuthon. This legendary shop is undisputedly among the most famous in town for having the best sticky rice to go with mangoes.
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Its sticky rice is perfectly cooked with just the right level of sweetness, using a family recipe passed down through the generations for over 80 years. It’s now also on Michelin’s Bib Gourmand list.
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Open Mon – Sat from 7:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
Tel. 02 221 3554
Location 443 Tanao Road, San Chao Pho Suea, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok
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Credit : Kor Panich Facebook page

Chikatcha Café 

We start exploring Phraeng Phuthon by patronising a local place, Chikatcha Café.

This family-run café started 80 years ago before being turned into an electrical appliance shop for a while and finally going back to its coffee making roots once again. Enter Chikacha, and you will feel like stepping back in time as the Café is decorated with vintage objects.

The café’s glass cabinets are adorned with memorabilia and old electrical appliances; some of which are no longer manufactured. 

This is not your typical chic café with a sleek barista, but it sure does a good job of quenching your thirst at a very affordable price.
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Open Mon – Fri from 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Tel. 081 559 9608
Location 550 Tanao Road, San Chao Pho Suea, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok

After a coffee break, it’s time to resume the trip. Phraeng Phuthon was home to the royal palace of Prince Bhudhares Dhamrongsakdi. King Rama V the Great ordered a road to be built through the palace’s compound after the prince’s death. The area was also set aside for the construction of Sino-Portuguese style shophouses.
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What remains of the palace is now the Sukhumala Health Centre, which was established in remembrance of King Rama V the Great’s Queen Consort Sukhumala Marasri.

1905 Heritage Corner & Cafe 
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This small boutique guesthouse has been beautifully restored from old shophouses in Phraeng Phuthon. It also has a small café and souvenir shop. It is highly recommended for a staycation, as it offers a good chance to live among Bangkok’s old community. Otherwise, just drop by the Café to sample its popular iced coconut coffee.
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Credit : 1905 Heritage Corner Facebook page

Open Mon – Fri 7:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m., Sat 10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. (only cafe)
Tel. 02 041 0102
Location 66,68 Phraeng Phuthorn Road, San Chao Pho Suea, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok
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Credit : 1905 Heritage Corner Facebook page

Phuthon Bar – charcoal grilled buns
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Don’t let the name fool you, this “bar” doesn’t serve any alcoholic drinks.
We are here to have a bite of the famous grilled buns by Lung Chuai — uncle in Thai — before calling it a day.
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The owner of Phuthon Bar, Khun Nueng, has been endearingly nicknamed the “unhurried uncle” by his regular customers for his relaxed grilling of the buns. And yes, we can assure you that his buns are worth the wait! 

It’s difficult to resist the fragrance as the buns are grilled. You can choose from various fillings, either sweet or savoury. 

Non-alcoholic beverages; such as, tea, coffee, milk and soda are also available.

Many snacks including fried dumplings and Kai Kata – pan fried egg are on the menu.
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Open Mon – Sat from 5:00 – 11:00 p.m.
Tel. 095 118 8554
Location 124 Phraeng Phuthon Road, San Chao Pho Suea, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok

Sam Phraeng Facestreet Festival.
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This annual festival that is usually held in November but was cancelled last year due to COVID-19. We hope it will resume this year. The 2-day festival features music, arts, crafts, lanterns and puppets. The activities are held across the three lanes of Phraeng Sappasat, Phraeng Nara and Phraeng Phuthon, adding a burst of life to this historical neighbourhood. Don’t miss it.

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