Tucked away amongst the backstreet sois and nestled within the multitude of Bangkok skyscrapers of Sathorn, you can find a peculiar and unconventional Chinese graveyard; it’s an all-in-one park, gym, temple and hangout for the locals. It’s off the beaten track and hard to find unless you know about it, you don’t tend to find it in the guide books and you won’t find tourists there. It has the beauty and evocative history of the Chinese temples only without the tuk tuks and sometimes tacky tourist charades that come with some of the other more popular tourist sites.
There is a lot more to this unheard of Bangkok park than just your traditional temples though – you’ll find everything from old geezers playing cards and drinking tea, to pensioners playing tunes on the harmonica or singing classic thai songs on random karaoke machines; locals jogging through the Chinese cemetery, pumping iron to the backdrop of a colourful temple, or youths playing lively Takraw matches.
It’s quite an odd mish mash of activity considering the solemn and spiritual mood that usually lingers in the atmosphere of a standard graveyard. But nonetheless, it’s refreshing and completely typical of Thai culture and it’s laid back, open minded approach to life. If you prefer to see culture and everyday life in an authentic and chilled out setting – basically if you’re bored of repetitive, somewhat sheltered tourist sights and displays – a trip to Tae Chio cemetery can make for a pleasant change.
If you drop by during the day, you’ll find it to be a peaceful, unique park to sit and snack on some of the street food and snacks from the outside Bangkok sois. If you head to the cemetery at sunset, you’ll find it to be a lively and entertaining hangout for the younger locals just finishing work and school. Next to the gym and main chinese temple is a Takraw court -Sepak Takraw is a popular Thai sport which I can only describe as being like a fusion of football, volleyball and acrobatics. It makes a really interesting sport to spectate and if you visit the cemetery in the evening, it’s likely you might be able to catch a game.
The gym at the cemetery is very much like the more well know outdoor gym in Lumpini Park, only I believe it to be a little more relaxed, less intimidating than the ‘beefcake feel’ of Lumpini park, and the Temple setting more distinctive and appealing to the eye. As a whole, the Tae Chio graveyard is a little rough around the edges – it’s not like the immaculately maintained, better known parks of Bangkok – but it has a spirit, creativity and vibe of a whole new level.
How to get there
Take the BTS to Surasak station in Sathorn and take exit 2. Continue with the direction of the traffic until you get to the main cross roads, continue left around the corner (soi 17) and follow the soi (Charoen 1) past the Seven Eleven. Head on into the soi, following left round the bend until the you see an apartment block called Sara Residence. Shortly after this the road forks straight ahead and right – Take the right turn and after about a hundred yards you’ll find the park on your left.
Surasak station is located next to Saphan Taksin station and just past Sala Deng BTS. Saphan Taksin is the main ferry hub to travel along the Chao Praya river and Sala Deng, Silom has many modern bars, shops and restaurants to hang out at. Sathorn and the Chinese Cemetery make for a convenient stop off if visiting these nearby Bangkok stations.