Looking for a perfect getaway near Bangkok? With its charming local living and artsy atmosphere, here is why you should visit Hua Takhe, a canalside century-old market near Lat Krabang. Hopping on a train there for a day trip from Hua Lamphong Terminal is recommended!
Located in Eastern Bangkok not far from Suvarnabhumi Airport, the community was established after the canal was built in King Rama V era as to commute to the Eastern provinces via water transport through Prawet Burirom and Lam Pla Thiew canals. Officially known as Luang Prot Than Liam Community following the name of the landlord who donated his land to the community, the community later derives its name ‘Hua Takhe’ which means ‘Crocodile’s head’ in Thai from the giant crocodile’s skull which was founded in the middle of the canal intersection.
The slow life pace with river lifestyle, old style market, friendly people, and the hub of artists are some of the charms of this community. As its a perfect vibe for artsy people and can be a perfect getaway from Bangkok hectic city life, Hua Takhe Market and wooden houses lining the canal are symbols of old style markets which are slowly disappearing from the Thai lifestyle. With local folkway you might see children jumping off the bridge to play in the canal, boat noodles from real floating boat, wooden school, local playing Chula kites or monk collecting morning alms by boat in the morning.
In the past, the market was once a floating market and a trading hub where farmers paddled their boats to sell their fruit and rice before urban expansion turned it into land market and two major fire broke out destroying most of the wooden shophouses here. Strolling at the rustic market, you can find lots of vintage shophouses and stores like the Sawasdee Colorlab (the former photography service shop), Old Barber where the current owner opens his house (formerly his father’s barber) to all visitors to see antique stuffs collecting since his ancestors who were Mon descent, Paibul Panich Lathe Factory where the long tail motors of long tail boats were made, Fishing Equipment Shop and A Frame Shop where art students buy frames for their artworks.
Despite its vintage-style decoration, Si Yaek Hua Takhe Cafe and Guesthouse and Na Latkrabang Cafeare two newly-opened shops run by the new generation of locals who love and want to develop the community, yet still preserve the local living like the way it is.
Owned by a young couple who lived in Lat Krabang for many years, Na Lat Krabang Cafe opens its place to be a spot for brunch and desserts serving fresh coffee, toasts and sandwiches. This photogenic cafe opens every Tuesdays to Sundays from 10am til 7pm. If you are into bicycling, why not have a chat with them? They are really a big fan of bicycle culture.
Nestle down the quiet end of the market toward the canal intersection, Si Yaek Hua Takhe (means Hua Takhe intersection in Thai) serves a la carte menus like fried pork topped on rice, tom yum noodles, rice with teriyaki chicken. Drinks includes red/green syrup with soda, coffees, teas which served with their signature Leaf bread. Originally, the place was a gasoline station, yet renovated by Ms. Pao, the community activist of the ‘Love Hua Takhe’ activist group.
If you want to extend your visit for a night, here they offer a great place for staycation near the airport. With no air conditioned rooms, you can enjoy the flow of fresh breeze during the night. The rooms are listed on Airbnb starting from 1,000 Baht per night. The canoe/boat service is upon request. After take a rest, you can give morning alms to paddling monks at downstairs.
Situated close to two leading arts college; College of Fine Arts (Chang Silp Collage) and King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang (KMITL), a group of locals has joined hands with the two educational institutes to promote Hua Takhae as art community. A familiar scene that Hua Ta Khe people saw from time to time is students from the art colleges sketching and drawing their artworks at Hua Ta Khe market along the banks of the canal.
College of Fine Arts (or Chang Silp College) was relocated from the inner Bangkok to Latkrabang area for over 20 years while it has been training artists for more than 60 years. Inside the college, there is a statue of Ganesha which is respectful among artists. Since the Fine Arts College, Bangkok moved from into Hua Ta Khe in 1978, arts has gradually blended into the community. They also taught ancient disappearing Thai art naming Lacquered work making (Lai Rod Nam), Khon miniature paper marche, and traditional drawing.
Apart from old shophouses, here you can see the perfect combination of arts blending into the wooden market like leaf kites, graffiti and other kind of arts. Leaf kites are sustainable crafts in the community. Taught by Uncle Kite, the kite expert, local and kids in the community enjoy making and playing kites. There are mobile kites for beginners like Chula kite (star-shaped kite) and leaf kites made from sun dried leaves of only certain types of leaves.
Some of the works from these students and locals are exhibited at the Three Teachers’ House (Baan Sarm Kru) where the three art teachers at the College of Fine Arts bought one of the shophouses at the market and turned it into an art gallery, their working station and occasionally a place for art workshops and events.
Among contemporary arts in the community, Graffiti is one of these arts. The artists gathered in 2014 and collaborated with local activists in a creative project called the ‘Croco Head’ Project which refers to the community’s name. The moldy wall was painted a crocodile’s head for each block by each group of street artist. One of them was teenagers in the community who won the graffiti award. You can find the Takhe Graffiti Wall across the wooden bridge.
‘We want people to visit Hua Takhe, but not to change our community and local living. Hua Takhe is just the best the way it is’said Umbha Bunyaket or known as Aunt Aoi, one of Love Hua Takhe activist group’s leaders.
So, what are you waiting for? Let’s spread the words and spend a day at Hua Takhe!
When to visit: Mondays – Saturdays from 6am (for giving morning alms to paddling monk to 6pm
How to get there:
- Bus No. 143, 151, 517
- Train: Eastern Line from Hua Lamphong Terminal Station and get off at Hua Takhe Station
- Airport Rail Link: Lat Krabang ARL Station then grab a taxi
- Taxi/Private Car: via Lat Krabang Rd. Soi 17 or Chalong Krung Rd. Soi 1
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