Where: Thonburi / Bangkok Yai
Duration: One hour walking + relaxing time
Start: Wong Wian Yai BTS
1) This walk can also start at River City and include a cross-river boat trip to the Khlong San market and neighbourhood, and a walk up Th. Charoen Rat (see Walk 3) to Wong Wian Yai and King Taksin’s statue to your right once you reach Th. Somdet. For now however, catch the BTS to the second station over the river – BTS Wong Wian Yai. Take the station exit that follows the direction of the train and use the above ground walkway to take you to the intersection of Th. Krung Thonburi and Th. Somdet. Take the second Wong Wian Yai exit on your right and you will find yourself on ground level.
Head north along Th. Somdet. The footpath is wide and even and the walking pleasant. Keep an eye out for motorbikes however. We will pass an interesting retro chair showroom and the Mahachai Mae-Klong railway station (see Walk 3). As we approach the Big Circle – with the centre-piece of King Taksin on a horse (sculptured by the famous Italian and long-time Bangkok resident, Corrado Feroci )off to the right on the edge of the roundabout is the abandoned Merry Kings Department store. The centre of the circle can be reached by an underground walkway which we will pass just before we exit the roundabout.
2) Take the first left Th. Inthraraphitak / Th. Phet Kasem and follow this road for about three kilometres. Beware of the very low hanging signs if you are more than 177cms tall. And before setting off down this road, have a look across the street and note the shop that sells the loudest shirts this side of the river.
Once again, the footpath is wide and even. There are some interesting shops along the first section of this road. There is a sewing machine shop that has a display of ancient machines in the front window; and a shop that appears to sell classic 70s stereo equipment. Please report in if you pass by and it is open. A little further on and we pass an unusually designed house / office with a single, polished aggregate column with a motif to swell the heart of any primal devotee. Just after passing Th. Toet Thai on the left, we will cross Khlong Bangkok Yai as it travels south before it swings north to ultimately link up with Khlong Bangkok Noi.
3) Shortly we’ll come to the intersection of Th. Phet Kasem and Th. Charon Sanit. Actually, Th. Phet Kasem does a bit of a dog-leg to the left so Th. Charon Sanit is more or less straight ahead. But at time of writing (August 2016) the new Blue Line is being built overhead and the intersection is a major construction zone. Our goal is the un-sign posted Soi 3 on the left of Th. Charon Sanit. After a few pieces of street art on the right there is an overhead bridge to the left hand side of the road. Make sure you take the right exit off this walkway because the right exit is missing the last two metres of steps.
Turn into Soi 3 (just ask one of the street vendors to make sure) – a pleasant Thai neighbourhood, and walk to the end of the Soi. Follow the small lane and you will cross the Bangkok Yai Khlong (also called Khlong Bang Luang). Turn immediately left after the bridge and follow the wooden walkway past teak houses selling a range of tourist bits and pieces. Shortly you will come to Baan Sinlapin. This is a wonderful 100 year old, two story house with an inner-courtyard backed by a wonderful 300 year old chedi
There are classes run here; a gallery upstairs; and lot’s of interesting things to purchase if you wish. Donations are gratefully accepted. A shadow puppet troupe perform everyday except Wednesday at 2pm. The restaurant has rustic tables and chairs and benches overhanging the khlong. Excellent coffee for 45 baht.
The place is very relaxing and great for a coffee and a read or just to gaze out onto the khlong which is generally busy with longtails taking tourists up and down. An ice cream seller drops by occasionally for an extra treat.
4) When ready, continue to walk along the khlong past old houses and some small restaurants. Lots of fish in the khlong, too.
As you wander you can’t miss the peaceful Wat Kamphang. What it lacks in grandeur it more than makes up with setting.
From Travelfish: Passing over the threshold into the wat’s perpetually empty ordination hall is like being swept off to a bygone era defined by pious kings, wandering ascetics, beautiful princesses and loyal swordsmen; an era during which the countless Thai tales of dragons, spirits and monks with supernatural powers seem as believable as 747s and cell phones.
When we visited, apart from monks chatting near the entrance, we were the only people in the temple surrounds. The older parts are thought to be around 500 years old.
5) Homeward bound: from the wat wander into the surrounding community but just keep the khlong vaguely to your left. You’ll pass schools, the outdoor laundromat, and the everyday life of Thais on this side of the river.
Before too long we will come to Th. Phet Kasem where it is a 60 baht taxi ride back to Wong Wian Yai BTS.