Phraeng Phuton - Quaint Italian Piazza Tucked Away in Old Town Bangkok
It’s only a few blocks away from the city’s top tourist site, The Grand Palace, yet few visitors know about Phraeng Phuton, which is a wonderful spot to while away an afternoon enjoying one of Bangkok’s last remaining heritage zones. More reminiscent of a classic Italian piazza than a Thai neighborhood, Phraeng Phuton dates back to the early 1900s, when King Rama V built a series of European-inspired neoclassical row houses to rent to locals. The colorful and architecturally pleasing shophouses have recently been repainted and feature narrow facades, balusters in the windows, and have tables in the street that help create a communal vibe.
Unique food in a unique neighborhood
Nosh from the famous local shops here, including Nattaporn, the 70-year-old homemade ice cream shop famed for their mango and coconut ice creamsa or pop in for a meal at the hole in the wall Chote Chitr, which serves recipes handed down from the Royal Palace that are loved by the New York Times’ food critics. Feeling bold? Try a bowl of pig’s brain noodle soup from a shop here called Samong Moo Thai Tam that has won the coveted Shell Shuan Shim food award as well as been frequented by countless celebrity chefs and famous food critics. Also, don’t miss the 80-year-old classic Vichian Garage; they’re famous for maintaining vintage automobiles, many of which are parked out front, including the owner’s collection of 20 Austins, one of which he even sold Thailand’s Prince.
A development free zone in Bangkok
The Saochingchao neighborhood Phraeng Phuton calls home is in is one of the only areas in Bangkok that don’t have condominiums and shopping malls, nor public transport lines for that matter, making it one of the best places to walk in town and experience a tranquil side of Bangkok. As expansion and construction take over, that quiet gets harder to find with each passing day. It is best to come here early though, as many places are open for lunch, and the few that stay open for dinner tend to close by nine.
Travel Tip: There are several ways to get here, but it’s more atmospheric to take the Chao Phraya River ferry to the Tha Chang Pier and then walk by the Grand Palace, continuing on Lak Muang Road past the colorful colonial-style Ministry of Defense, from where you cross the tiny Rop Krung Canal. Turn right on Atsadang Road, take the next left, and you’ll enter Phraeng Phuton. If this seems like too much to swallow, just take a taxi and let your Portier phone do the navigating. The Nattaporn Ice Cream shop is at 94 Phraeng Phuton, and is starred on the phone.