The neighborhood on the bank of the Chao Phraya River is coming back to life. The scene is reminiscent of the city over a century ago, when Bangkokians still relied heavily on the river for transport.
Recently, an old Thai-Chinese family Wanglee have transformed their old family estate into creative retail space known as Lhong 1919, a new tourist attraction built in celebration of history.
Cultural heritage as asset
Lhong 1919 transforming old riverside mansion into creative space
In the past, residents along the Chao Phraya River relied predominantly on the river for daily life activities, including for transport and accommodation. With the arrival of the modern age, roads and cars replaced rivers, canals, and boats. As roads became more and more important, old riverside buildings lost their significance. Some were totally abandoned or were repurposed into condominiums or hotels.
But in the past few years, riverside communities have slowly been coming back to life. This was reflected in the arrival of The Jam Factory, a creative community in Khlong San, followed by the remodeling of the General Post Office into Thailand Creative & Design Center (TCDC). A number of art galleries subsequently emerged, including the creative hub known as Warehouse. Most recently, the Wanglee family remade a historic mansion along the Chao Phraya River that remained dormant for over a hundred years into a new creative space in the heart of Bangkok.
Lhong 1919 was, back in the day, a historic Thai-Chinese pier on the Chao Phraya River. Lhong comes from “Hui Zhong Lhong”, which in Chinese means steamship terminal. The place later became known as the Wanglee warehouse. Located on the Thonburi side of the Chao Phraya River, opposite Talad Noi – Chinatown, it was built in 1850 by Phraya Phisansuppaphol (Chuen Phisanbutra), a Siam-born Chinese.
The pier had been a steamship terminal accommodating passenger and cargo traffic and a major stop for Chinese nationals – both merchants arriving for trade and immigrants wishing to settle in Thailand. In 1919, the Wanglee became the owner of the terminal, renovating it into the family’s office and warehouse.
Hui Zhong Lhong was built in the Chinese style popular during the reign of King Rama III, with bricks and cement, wooden floor boards, and ceramic roofs. This type of traditional Chinese architecture is called San He Yuan, where buildings are arranged in a U shape with a large space in the middle. The buildings are lined with 167-year-old murals of auspicious drawings and those depicting daily life activities from a famous ancient Chinese novel.
Renovation of Hui Zhong Lhong pier
The Wanglee family, who owned the Hui Zhong Lhong pier, having recognized its historic value, invested a huge sum of money to remodel the pier long left to decay into Lhong 1919, a heritage-style tourist spot. The renovation was overseen by Rujirapohn Wanglee, owner of PIA Interior, a member of the Wanglee family herself.
The land of more than 9,600 square meters has been developed into a mixed-use space to host activities, parties, and outdoor events. Here, you will also find fine-dining restaurants, Chinese food, street food, cafes, shops selling arts and crafts by young artists, and space for relaxation. Part of the property is also reserved for the study at Thai-Chinese history, through traditional Chinese architecture and murals of ancient Chinese painters.
Location: 248 Chiang Mai Road, Khlong San Subdistrict, Khlong San District, Bangkok 10600
For more information: Call 091-187-1919 or contact through its Facebook page LHONG 1919.
English Translation: Suchanart Jarupaiboon