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A Visit to Multi-Cultural Bangrak District

In August 1861, foreign consuls in Siam signed their names to a petition which they presented to King Mongkut (King Rama IV). It said that “the Europeans were used to going out in the open air, riding carriages or riding horseback for pleasure. These activities had been good for their health and they had not suffered from illnesses. Since their coming to live in Bangkok, they had found that there were no roads to go riding in carriages or on horseback for pleasure, and they had all been sick very often”. The King was in sympathy after having heard the contents of this petition and reflected that “recently the Europeans had been coming to live in Bangkok in increasing numbers every year. Their countries had roads that made every village or town look orderly, pleasant and clean. Our country was greatly overgrown with grass or climbers; our pathways were but small or blind alleys; our larger pathways were dirty, muddy, or soiled, and unpleasant to look at.”

Consequently, His Majesty King Rama IV granted Somdej Chao Phraya Maha Suriyawong (Chuang Bunnag), Phra Intharathibadi Siharach Rong Mueang together with a British diplomat Henry Alabaster to undertake the project of Siam’s first modern road construction which took two years to complete (1862-1864). The project cost THB 19,700. The New Road runs for 8.6 kilometres from Saphan Lek (Iron Bridge) of Phra Nakhon District through Pom Prap Sattru Phai and Samphanthawong (dividing the two), Bangrak, Sathorn and Bang Kho Laem. The name of Charoen Krung was given by King Mongkut.

The first modern road brought remarkable changes to the city of Siam. The typical Singapore shophouses were built along the new road. The carriages, bicycles, personal luxurious cars were imported. Tram, a public transport system was used in this period. All civilizations moved onto the land instead of riverside.

For almost 160 years, Charoen Krung Road has become the hub of international communities of expats, migrants, and local residents. Today, glorious traces of the cultural diversity are shining through Chinese shrines, mosques, churches, a cathedral, historic buildings, and a community’s way of life.


Saturday 8 February 2020, 1.30pm – 8pm


Dr Yongtanit Pimonsathean,
Honorary Advisor to The Siam Society Council

HE Mr Francisco Vaz Patto,
The Siam Society Council Member

Dr Kevin Colleary

Dr Navamintr Vitayakul
The Siam Society Council Member


The tentative programme will be as follows:

This walking trip will start from Taksin Bridge up to Si Phraya (around 3 kilometres). The places of visit include: Chiao Eng Biao – a Hainanese shrine, Prince Theatre Heritage, the Assumption Cathedral, the East Asiatic Building, O.P. Place and O.P. Garden, Haroon Mosque, the former General Post Office, Chavanich Building and Warehouse 30. The group will also visit the residence of Portuguese Ambassador, HE Mr Francisco Vaz Patto and who will kindly guide a house tour himself together with his spouse, Dr Kevin Colleary. The walk will end at House No.1. This programme also includes a special dinner of Thai delicacies at Ruen Urai restaurant at the Rose Hotel Bangkok. The group will be transferred to the restaurant by taxis.

The group will meet at Chiao Eng Biao Shrine at 1.15pm and start walking at 1.30pm. The trip will end at the Rose Hotel Bangkok around 8pm.


The contribution of THB 2,900 (THB 3,400 for non-members) will cover a special dinner, donations to sites of visit, and other costs incurred to make this trip possible. Please make your reservation as soon as possible. Payment in full is required by Saturday 25 January.

There is a 4% surcharge for credit/debit card payment to cover bank charges. Please pay by cash or cheque payable to “The Siam Society”. Alternatively, you can transfer the money to The Siam Society travel account at TMB Bank, Asoke Branch, saving account no.053-2-18000-7. Please fax or e-mail the deposit or transfer docket to us.

Please note that this trip will be conducted in English.

The Siam Society reserves the right to change the programme as necessary.

Seats are limited. Please book your place as soon as possible. For further information and bookings, please contact Khun Jarunee at Tel.02-6616470-3 ext. 204 or Khun Sapanut Tel.02-661-6470-3 ext. 506, Fax.02-258-3491 or email: The Society office is open from 9am to 5pm, Tuesday to Saturday.

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