Art galleries, book shops, cool cafes, restaurants and bars to explore—with barely a pair of elephant pants in sight.

Tucked-away behind buzzing Phra Athit Road, Phra Sumen’s peaceful Old City vibe is often enlivened by stragglers from neighboring Khaosan. With no shortage of historic temples, art galleries, museums, book shops, cool cafes, restaurants, and bars to explore, you certainly won’t get bored here.
 

Coffee & Breakfast 

 
Dialogue Coffee and Gallery

Artsy coffee lovers can check out Dialogue Coffee and Gallery (533 Phra Sumen Rd., 084-754-8799) for rotating art exhibitions and espresso (B55). If chocolate’s more your thing, try Na Bowon’s (361 Phra Sumen Rd., 02-003-5361) signature brownie (B70). For a full breakfast, go for the pan-fried egg set with sausage (B85) at 60-year-old Kope Hye Tai Kee (526-528 Phra Sumen Rd., 026-290-646). If you’re in hurry, stop by Patonggo Cafe (1 Phra Sumen Rd., 02-281-9754) for soybean milk (B30) and creative takes on patonggo (Chinese doughnuts)—think chicken gravy, roasted sesame pork, or Thai-style seafood (B40-60).  


Lunch & Dinner 

 
Kanom Chan Thai Dessert Bar
 
Life and Kuisine

Newly-launched rooftop haunt Kanom Chan Thai Dessert Bar (5/F, 133, Na Banglamphu Hotel, Phra Sumen Rd., 085-484-4044), offers craft beers and traditional Thai mains and desserts, like tong muan krob I-tim ga-ti (coconut ice cream in a crispy wafer, B120). The industrial-style restaurant and motorcycle showroom, Life and Kuisine (589 Phra Sumen Rd., 092-919-4656), serves hearty American fusions like pad-cha back ribs spaghetti (B280), while the legendary 80-year-old Hainanese chicken-rice specialist Phanfa Restaurant (550-4 Phra Sumen Rd., 02-281-6890) is also nearby. If the night’s wearing on, head to Fah Mui (587 Phra Sumen Rd., 02-282-1206) for a comforting bowl of khao tom (rice porridge), open till 3am. Chains like Hachiban (240 Phra Sumen Rd., 02-281-0387) and Hongkong Noodle (Phra Sumen Rd., 02-629-1323) can also be found.  

 
Drinks 

 
Ku Bar
 
Kang Kao

Forget frenetic Khaosan, as Phra Sumen houses hidden gems like Ku Bar (469 Phra Sumen Rd., 02-067-6731), with its monthly-rotating cocktails (from B380) and downstairs’ natural and organic wine specialist, Kang Kao (02-067-6731). Head downstairs for great live jazz at Brown Sugar (469 Phra Sumen Rd., 089-499-1378), or to the rooftop at Jhamjun Bar & Bristro (5/F, Phra Sumen Rd., 02-282-3932) for a must-try phra jan tem jai (B180)—orange liqueur, lime juice, and syrup. The emerging Sape Bar BKK (Phra Sumen Rd., 098-956-0088) offers creative signature drinks like the ngo pa (B180)—black jelly paired with Kahlua (coffee-flavored liqueur) and Baileys.


Transport 


With BTS Ratchathewi and MRT Hua Lamphong the closest at four kilometers away, buses and win motosai are where it’s at. Many of the local cafes also offer pushbike rental. 


Accommodation 


Here, apartment and condo rentals are few and far between. Instead, it’s all about old-style shophouse buildings, a few of which offer hostel and homestays (from B15,000/month).


Community 


This neighborhood retains its unique and independent Old Town charm and warm and friendly local atmosphere, with market stalls prevailing over big brands. Santi Chai Prakan (Phra Athit Rd.) public park, close to Phra Sumen Fort, is a popular spot to chill and workout. 


Visit 

Head in the Clouds Art Space

Admire the King Rama IV’s historic Wat Bowon Niwet Wiharn before gallery hopping between the Queen Sirikit Gallery (101 Ratchadamnoen Klang Rd., 02-281-5360), Foto United Art Gallery (519 Phra Sumen Rd., 02-629-2841), and Head in the Clouds Art Space (365/9 Phra Sumen Rd., 064-992-9619). Bookworms shouldn’t miss Passport bookshop (523 Prasumeru Rd., 02-629-0694).  

How has Phra Sumen changed?

 
Kom Tepprechasakul, owner of Kanom Chan Thai Dessert bar
“Our store only opened around three months ago, but the friendliness and warmth can be felt from the locals around here. Brown Sugar is my recommendation for live jazz.” 
 
 
Somsak Damrongsunthornchai, co-owner of Dialogue Coffee and Gallery
“In the past, it was just a lonely road but now there’s so much to discover here—long-established stores like New Orleans Restaurant or Phanfa, the Passport bookshop, Bamsha cafe, Brown Sugar. Phra Sumen has transformed into a diverse community.”
 
 
Amnat Rattanamanee, owner of Passport Bookshop
“Phra Sumen is a perfect place to take some rest. It’s charming and full of variety for people of all ages, like art galleries to admire and restaurants from the high-end western cuisine of Life and Kuisine to outdoor street food like Fa Mui, plus secret bars like Ku Bar.”