Where to Beat the Crowds in Bangkok (Hint: Steer Clear of Khao San Road)

Fly under the radar and plunge into authentic Thai life with these three sightseeing gems. Markets, ancient Chinese architecture and almost-hidden shrines are not to be missed.

Glimpse a Taste of Old Bangkok in Talad Noi

Meaning “small fresh market,” there’s a lot more to see at Talad Noi than fruits and vegetables.

Used car shops dominate some sections of the old neighborhood, with metal parts heaped like mountains. But in between you can find stalls and traditional Chinese shophouses hawking street eats, and craftsmen sharpening knives for sale.

Elsewhere, a handful of historical landmarks are a lasting testament to the area’s former Portuguese, Vietnamese and Hokkien Chinese populations. The Hokkien shrine Cho Su Kong sits not far from the Holy Rosary, a catholic church originally built in 1787 by Portuguese settlers.

A temple of a different kind, Siam Commercial, the country’s first bank, also sits nearby in resplendent Colonial style. Carry on to Chinatown for a meal and to rest those weary feet.

Make an Appointment at Sol Heng Tail Mansion

Despite housing both kennels and a diving school, Sol Heng Tai Mansion still showcases fascinating Chinese architecture and ornamentation dating back more than 200 years.

Originally built by the powerful Sol clan, the house remains privately owned but welcomes visitors by appointment. After taking in the intricately carved ornaments and Chinese porcelain, crane your neck and peer into the local dwellings running alongside the mansion—both for the juxtaposition and the fact that these sights are typically, for visitors anyway, out of bounds.

Bargain for Goods at Klongsan Plaza

For an authentic Thai shopping experience, do as the locals do and venture to Klongsan Plaza—accessible by ferry across Chao Phraya River.

At the market, rhinestone bags sit next to shiny shoes, all sold at decent prices and flanked by massage parlors and nail salons if you have beautification in mind.

Street vendors dish up bowls of local treats in front of several shops, while at the nearby Jam Factory, you’ll find one of Bangkok’s cool new creative spaces. Here, design stores, galleries, bookshops and cafes cluster on a lush green courtyard. What’s not to love?