Soi Mitrakham is located between Soi Samsen 11 and Soi 13 off Samsen Road near the National Library. It's home of the largest and oldest Vietnamese community in Bangkok.
The Vietnamese have lived in Thailand since the Ayutthaya days in the 17th century after fleeing religious persecution in their country.
There are records of a Vietnamese community in the foreign quarter in Ayutthaya.
When the Burmese sacked Ayutthaya, the Vietnamese Catholic St Joseph Church was destroyed too.
During the Ayutthaya period, Vietnamese were living in Bangkok as well. Mitrakham used to be the site of a Roman Catholic church attended by the Vietnamese community in the area.
Vietnamese immigration to Thailand continued in the late 18th and early 19th centuries during the reigns of King Rama I and II.
During the reign of King Rama III, Thailand went to war with Vietnam from 1832 – 1846 over control of what is now Laos and Cambodia. Many Vietnamese prisoners-of-war were taken and settled in Thailand. Most of the immigrants in this period settled in this area.
In 1834 the Immaculate Conception Church was rebuilt to cater for the increasing Vietnamese population in the area. Locally the church was called Bot Ban Yuan (Vietnamese village church)
In 1851, King Rama IV or King Mongkut granted land to Catholic Church to built St Francis Xavier Church which has become the center of the community in the area.
In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, there were more Vietnamese immigrants to Thailand. These immigrants, opposing French colonialism, fled to Thailand and settled in the northeastern provinces along the Mekong River.
One such Vietnamese was Ho Chi Minh, father of the Vietnamese Revolution.
The predominantly Catholic population in this soi is evident in the number of mission schools in the area, St Francis Xavier Convent, St Gabriel College and the Conception Convent.
Don't expect to see Vietnamese restaurants, shops and signboards when you visit the area. It looks like any other neighborhood in Bangkok.
After generations, the Vietnamese community here is well integrated into Thai society, holding Thai citizenships, though still practicing their traditions mixed with Thai customs.
Map to Mitrakham
How to get there
Soi Mitrakham is not shown in street signs; the community is in the area between Samsen Soi 11 and Soi 13.
The network of lanes extent all the way to the Chao Phraya River.
If you're coming from the city, you'll reach the National Library and St Gabriel's College on your left before you get to Soi Samsen 11.
The following bus services from the city pass Samsen Road.
Non air-conditioned service No. 65 (red and cream) from Sanam Luang
There are no convenient river piers in the Soi Mitrakham area.
Soi Mitrakham is another old community that adds to the multi-cultural and multi-religious fabric in modern Bangkok.
For other Bangkok Communities.