Vendors afloat and fruit from the trees in Thonburi, Bangkok's most traditional neighborhood.

Tradition thrives in Thonburi, Thailand's former capital across the Chao Phraya River from the rest of Bangkok. Orchards and khlongs (Thai for small waterways) weave past this west-of-the-center neighborhood's temples and tuk tuks. Thonburi's slow-pace and vestigial capital structures remind of a Thailand before immense urbanization. Its relative isolation seems to transcend the passage of time, despite the commotion of the now-center being only a riverboat ride away.

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On the Map

Thonburi is bordered by Chinatown, Silom, Banglampoo, Bangkok Yai, Sathorn, Bang Kho Laem, Rat Burana, Phasi Charoen, and Chom Thong

Suvarnabhumi Airport: 40 minute drive or 1 hour by public transit and Airport Link Express
Siam BTS Skytrain Station: 30 minutes by public transit
Khao San Road: 20 minutes by public transit
Asok BTS Skytrain Station: 30 minutes by public transit

  • Public transit is Easy
  • Having a car is Possible

Traditional Thailand on the Other Side of the River

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Disembark Bangkok's urban center and cross the Chao Phraya by express boat to arrive at Thonburi, Thailand's original capital.

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Settled amid narrow canals like Bangkok Yai and wide rivers like the Chao Phraya, Thonburi recalls visions of traditional Thailand before temples became towers and waterways became thoroughfares.

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Home to intricate and iconic sites, Thonburi feels far removed from the pace of the rest of the city across the river.

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Despite its differences, Thonburi holds much in common with its across-the-Chao Phraya counterparts.

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Street food vendors, tuk tuks, scooters, and sinewy walkways weave in and out of the neighborhood.

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In Thonburi, rooftop views provide elegant reminders to Thailand's traditions.

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Wat Arun rises along the Chao Phraya and complements every meal.

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The location on the Thonburi side of the river was easy to reach by BTS (with excellent connections to the river taxis at Saphan Taksin)."


Visited in 2013

Khlong San Market: Thonburi's Clothing Store

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Although Khlong San Market fills with clothing, food, and collectibles vendors, much of the market's space is dedicated to handbags, shoes, and accessories.

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The market is a moving portrait of the neighborhood's residents.

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The Chao Phraya River makes a great way to get around, since many of the major tourist sites are easily accessible from the river. Chao Praya River Express operates a regular boat service - sort of a bus on the water. Fares are extremely cheap."

Spiritual Spaces and Sacred Wats

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Thonburi's most popular attraction, Wat Arun, rises above the neighborhood's skyline on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River.

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Also known as "The Temple of Dawn," Wat Arun is a royal temple of the highest rank. Wandering Wat Arun's gardens is free, but going inside to view its collection of delicate porcelain is worth the 50 baht.

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Chinese temples and exquisite gardens like Chee Chin Khor Deva Vihara and Princess Mother Memorial Park contribute to Thonburi's lush history.

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Other wats also find their place along the river.

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Wat Kanlaya welcomes visitors from the other side.

Thonburi: Residential Bangkok

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Beginning from Khlong San Market, follow the white lines that weave through Thonburi.

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The bike path leads cyclists through the neighborhood's back sois and past its Chinese Pagoda.

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Airbnb works with local photographers to capture the spirit of neighborhoods all around the world. The photography on this page includes work by:

Nic Dunlop

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Nic Dunlop is a Bangkok-based photographer and writer represented by Panos Pictures in London. In 1999, he received an award from the John Hopkins University for Excellence in International Journalism for his discovery and exposure of Pol Pot's chief executioner Comrade Duch, a story told in his book, 'The Lost Executioner'. He also co-directed the Emmy nominated HBO film 'Burma Soldier'. His new book, 'Brave New Burma' spans 20 years of his photographs of Burma's crisis.