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The small and tricky-to-find Boonsamakan Vegetarian Hall is an elaborate Chinese shrine where meat is strictly prohibited.
It's worth a look during the vegetarian festival, when it's a highlight, and the rest of the year as well.
Awash in yellow surfaces and yellow lanterns, the hall features many beautiful wood carvings, particularly some three-dimensional work on the upstairs front area. Also check out the phoenixes and red-eyed dragons looming above the pillars. Wander further inside to find elaborate altars where golden Chinese spirit images are enshrined.
Opposite the hall is a stage area used for Chinese opera performances during the annual vegetarian festival, or Tesakan Gin Jay. Expect thick crowds and crashing cymbals if you visit during the festival.
At other times of year the hall's courtyard fills up with parked motorbikes; we arrived to find a few orange-vested motorbike taxi drivers watching a muay Thai match in the community room next to the hall. Apart from a few of their shouts, the whole place was quiet and made for a welcome break from the chaos of Chinatown.
How to get there
From Ratchawong express boat pier, walk straight north up Ratchawong Rd, take a quick left (west) on Anuwong Rd and then hang a right (north) into the second alley on the right -- it's not signposted but there's a sign for Novltex Textile on the building at the corner. Walk straight north from here, passing several other small textile operations, and you'll find Boonsamakan's gate on the left at the far northern end of the alley. Admission is free.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 16th May, 2016.