Bangkok is famous the world over for its delicious street food, a plethora of shopping opportunities, and vibrant nightlife. Not many are aware, though, that the bustling capital of Thailand is a literary haven. Home to several bookstores, many of which are independent, the city was also labeled as a UNESCO Book Capital in 2013. Bangkok bookstores are both quaint and dreamy, offering visitors plenty of choices in multiple genres and languages.
Welcoming owners, a compact space that prompts cosiness, and books everywhere, literally from the floor to the ceiling and in some cases even hanging from the top, Passport Bookshop is one bookstore you cannot leave Bangkok without visiting. As the name suggests, the bookshop holds mostly travel-related books. However, in addition to travel guides, their collection includes English and Thai books in the genres of art, philosophy, photography and cooking. As with any friendly bookstore nowadays, you can take a seat and order coffee or a smoothie to accentuate your book browsing experience at Passport Bookshop.
Address: 523 Phra Sumen Rd, Wat Bowon Niwet, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200
Chatuchak Weekend Market
Visiting Bangkok’s largest street market is an experience in its own. Consisting of over 15000 stalls, you can literally find anything here including a variety of new and secondhand books at bargain prices. Wandering around can be a little bit daunting, but you’ll find that most bookshops are in Section One of JJ Market (as it is popularly known). The diversity of titles found at the stalls is mindboggling, ranging from Western literature to translations and Thai classics in English. The sellers are super helpful, and if they don’t have the book you want, they will point you to the stall that might.
Address: Kamphaeng Phet 2 Rd, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900
Candide Books & Cafe
Candide, at The Jam Factory, with its wide-open planning, creates a serene space that has zen meets industrial kind of feel to it. Owner and editor Duangruthai Esana Chatang adds to the exclusivity of the bookshop by curating a collection that focuses primarily on Thai literature, local independent publishers, and translated works. The in-house café makes for a leisurely spend on the weekends which do get crowded as people come from all parts of Bangkok to indulge in book reading and music events held regularly at Candide.
Address: 41/1 Charoen Nakhon Rd, Khlong San, Bangkok 10600
Open House Bookshop by Hardcover
Hardcover started in 2012 at the Bangkok Art and Cultural Center but opened their flagship store in Central Embassy which was incorporated into Open House in 2017. Now occupying the sixth floor, it is a wonderful destination for bibliophiles looking to buy English language books in genres such as architecture, fashion, travel, lifestyle, film, children’s books, and design. The bookstore was recently applauded for its initiative to start Gender Station, a speciality bookstore within Open House that carries LGBTQ+ books from across the world. Another advantage for readers visiting Hardcover is the possibility to buy from their vast collection of art supplies and fun stationery.
Address: 1030 Phloen Chit Rd, Lumphini, Pathum Wan District, Bangkok 10330
Dasa Book Cafe
Conveniently located on Sukhumvit Road, Dasa is a three-level book lover’s dream that boasts of being the “best secondhand bookshop in Bangkok.” Dasa has a stock of over 18000 books. The shelves here are packed with a multitude of genres in English and different European languages. They also sell secondhand music CDs. Customers can bring their own books for sale at Dasa, after taking an appointment. Otherwise, in what is undoubtedly a novel idea, book lovers can exchange any book they bought from Dasa for another book, within six months, claiming up to 50% of the price they originally paid as in-store credit.
Address: 714 4 Sukhumvit Rd, Khlong Tan, Khlong Toei, Bangkok 10110
Located in Bangkok’s party central, the RCA, Zombie Books is the most hipster and cool bookshop you’ll walk into when wandering around the city. The multi-storied bookstore is crammed with every possible nook and corner brimming with shelves full of books. Titles on display include everything from bestsellers to the obscure, but the bookshop’s main attractions are its café space on the third floor and a bar on the fourth. Not only that, but the bookshop remains open till midnight, resulting in quite the unique experience of walking among the dimly lit bookshelves past sundown. Zombie Books also has a co-working space that attracts a primarily young local crowd.
Address: RCA Block, D 21/118 Soi Soonvijai, Rama 9 Road, Bangkok