Discover an Authentic Korea Town in Bangkok

A picture of the entrance to Korea town, Bangkok Discover the small Korean community in Bangkok.

As a tourist to Thailand, you’ll likely want to sample as much of the Thai culture as possible. But how would you like to experience the Korean wave as well? By visiting the Korea town in Bangkok, you’ll can have the best of two cultures in a single trip!

The Korean Wave is the name given to the rise of popularity of (South) Korean culture worldwide. K-pop groups have become household names in countries where most people do not speak Korean. Korean entertainment has become popular on streaming services worldwide and on local television stations in Asia. Korean beauty products like sunscreen and moisturizer are held up as the gold standard of quality, particularly in Asian countries and in Asian diaspora communities.

The Korean Wave exports Korean culture all over the world and has had an impact on tourism in South Korea and on the country’s revenue as a whole.

Korea Town in Bangkok

What is a Korea town doing in a city like Bangkok? Unlike other Koreatowns worldwide, this is not an enclave for Korean expatriates who’ve migrated for the lower cost of living.

Ethnic enclaves are nothing new. In every country with a significant number of migrants, migrants from the same country or region will congregate together. Look at how many districts all over the world are called Chinatown or Little Italy or Little Tokyo.

However, Korea town in Bangkok is not such an enclave. This is not a district that Korean immigrants have made their own. In short, despite the name, it is not all that similar to the similarly-named Chinatown.

In fact, Koreatown is not so much a district as it is a single city block. It’s called Koreatown not because of the population, but because there are a number of Korean businesses in the area, particularly restaurants that specialize in Korean cuisine.

Consequently, while it’s not a full-on district like Bangkok’s Chinatown is, Koreatown is something of a hidden gem that not a lot of tourists take the time to visit. But those that do may find a gastronomic experience that, while not Thai, is still worth the time.

First up, what is this Koreatown like? There isn’t a large Korean community in Bangkok. In fact, current estimates are that there are just around 20,000 Koreans living in Bangkok. That’s not a lot in a city of more than 10.5 million people. And not all of them live around or near Koreatown. In fact, it’d be pretty hard for all of them to live in the area, mostly because Koreatown isn’t so much a town as it is a plaza.

So, what is this plaza and why is it referred to as a Koreatown? It is Sukhumvit Plaza and the reason it is referred to as a Koreatown is because of the businesses within that plaza. And while Koreatown may not be the official name, there is a sign that welcomes you to Koreatown in a variety of languages.

The businesses housed within the plaza are largely food. Which means that visitors, Korean or otherwise, can taste Korean food, which is likely to be prepared by Korean expats.

A plate of chicken and veggies. See for yourself why Korean fried chicken is as hyped up as it is.

Korean Fried Chicken

The food ranges from traditional Korean fare to western food that’s been given a Korean twist. For example, fried chicken is incredibly popular in Korea. Chicken and beer is a go-to after work snack for many office workers in Korea. They get off work, head down to either a stall or a small restaurant, loosen their ties and take off their jackets, get some fried chicken, and wash it down with beer.

There is a fried chicken restaurant in Bangkok’s Koreatown. Here, you’ll be able to see why Korean fried chicken is so good that people all over the world have nothing but praise for it. And, like the people in Korea, you’ll be able to wash it down with a cold beer.

Korean Barbecue

But that’s not all the cuisine that’s in the plaza. There’s also Korean barbecue. If you’re unfamiliar with this type of food, picture a table with a firepit in the middle of it. Then you get raw meat; beef, pork, or chicken. Then that meat is then cooked right there on the table, usually by you. You get a variety of condiments and sauces to add a bit of flavor to your meat.

Koreatown has a number of Korean barbecue restaurants located within it. So visitors who are curious about it, or those who’ve had it before and would like to have it again, are going to have plenty of choices.

Entrance to Korea Town in Bangkok. Experience a Thai twist on Korean staples.

Korean Market

But it’s not just Korean food and entertainment that’s become popular worldwide. Korean products – snacks, ice creams, and drinks – have also found niches outside their country of origin. The plaza features a market where such things may be purchased. So those of you who want to feel like you’re a character in a K-Drama can pop by and get a chocolate snack cake or two and pretend.

Because Sukhumvit is something of a tourist area, there are a number of hotels within the vicinity of the plaza, so if you do intend to make it a point to visit Koreatown, you’ve got a few options if you want to stay nearby.

Culture is not something that is so easily exported. Things can get lost in translation. A gesture that’s seen as loving in one culture can be seen as condescending in another. So it’s not easy for a country to make a soft power ploy, especially not on a global stage. And yet, South Korea has done that and they’ve done it spectacularly. There isn’t a country in the region that isn’t at least a little envious of what South Korea’s been able to do.

Admittedly, the Korea town in Bangkok may not be the most shining example of South Korea’s soft power success, but the fact that it’s there at all indicates that something is going right with it.

And as a tourist, why not get the most bang for your buck on your trip to Thailand? Make Korea Town part of the program on your next trip to Thailand.

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