Low rise, bustling and dotted with colonial-style archi, the Big Mango’s oldest neighbourhood Charoen Krung is of idiosyncratic contrast to the Suk-Silom vortex.
And tucked between the shophouses, wholesale gem dens and riverside hotels are veritable troves for one-of-a-kind decor, art and antique finds. This nifty trawl starts on Soi 40, conveniently close to the beloved Mandarin Oriental.
From the MO it’s a five minute totter up the soi to Lin Jewelers, a simple vault stacked to the rafters with all things silver. Line your purses with handmade jewellery, picture frames, cufflinks and other trinkets – they also do custom, engraving and have a sister store Lin’s Silverware just around the corner. A mere skip takes you to Thai Home Industries, a large, ramshackle teak joint where time has stood still, and so have the shop assistants. This eccentric throwback is a rich and eclectic repository of pearlware, bronze, nickel trenchers, tableware and linens all handcrafted and sourced in Thailand. If it’s not in stock, they’ll also order. Nice.
Next up, zip behind Thai Home Industries and onto Charoen Krung Soi 38 where you’ll espy icing cake dolly O.P. Place. Pop inside for a blast of aircon and to swoon at the fine Asian decorative objects and mainly Chinese antiques at Ashwood Gallery, once recovered then on you shuffle to younger sis O.P. Garden at Soi 36. Here you’ll come across ATTA Gallery for avant-garde, limited ed jewellery displayed like works of art – creative talents span homegirl Nutre Arayavanish to Scandi and Euro designers like David Bielander from Switzerland. Opposite is Serindia Gallery, repping upcoming Thai artists and photographers – charming publisher-owner Shane is the go-to gent for Thai culture and art history.
Back onto Charoen Krung either hop in a cab, or walk 10 mins (no mean feat in sweatier months) to Soi 30 where you’ll find the outstanding P. Tendercool showroom. This Belgian-Thai team craft one-off, heirloom-worthy tables using age-old techniques to rework reclaimed wood for tabletops. If owner Pieter is there, ask to peek into the workshop and he may invite you for a drink – lucky duck!
From Tendercool you have two options. Itching to explore more? Then follow the signposted Chinatown stroll that starts behind the Sheraton and weaves you through atmossy back alleys past colonial archi and heritage honey the Holy Rosary Church. Alternatively, if it’s that time of day and you’ve had your fill of heat, noise and dust, beeline to Viva Aviv The River at River City for a cooling pre-prandial overlooking the impressive Chao Phraya. And exhale…
Lin Jewelers, 9 Charoen Krung Rd, Soi 38. +66 2234 2819, linjewelers.com
Thai Home Industries, 35 Soi Oriental, Charoen Krung Soi 40
ATTA Gallery, Unit 1109-1110, OP Garden, 4, 6 Charoen Krung Soi 36. +66 2234 6422, attagallery.com
Serindia Gallery, O.P. Garden, Charoen Krung Soi 36. +66 2238 6410, serindiagallery.com
P. Tendercool, 45-58 Thanon Charoen Krung Soi 30. +66 2266 4344, ptendercool.com
Viva Aviv The River, River City Shopping Center, Unti 118, 23 Trok Rongnamkhaeng, Yota Rd. +66 2639 6305, vivaaviv.com