After browsing through AirBnb's list of Bangkok experiences, we came across A Night of Vinyl. It seemed like an interesting enough concept. Meet up with a local record enthusiast and DJ, and get guided through some of Bangkok's vintage record stores. Less the Beatles and Rolling Stones, more vintage Thai pop and rock'n'roll and old gramophones. Unfortunately the experience was sold out and seemed to be a once off thing. So there was no record store crawl and private listening party on the cards, until we decided we could probably trawl through some vintage record stores on our own - tour or no tour.
Thailand is not lacking when it comes to record stores. There are plenty that stock vintage records and new releases from artists all over the world. These are dotted all over the city. But to find the best collection of Thai records - both vintage and new - you've got to head to Charoen Krung. Charoen Krung is a bit of an artistic hub. You'll find antique stores, crafts, art studios as well as a growing street art scene. It's not as glitzy as the big malls near Siam, and you can cross the roads around here without relying on an overpass.
Two of the better-known stores to check out are Broadway and Tang Siang Thai. While the streets between Charoen Krung Soi 9 and Soi 11 would have featured a lot more stores back in vinyl's heyday, these two aren't the only ones left. Give yourself a bit of time to wander through the streets and you'll come across a handful of stores worth exploring.
Both Tang Siang Thai and Broadway are covered with wall to wall covers of vinyl records. There are turntables available in store to listen to any of the albums, and you can also pick up a vintage turntable for several thousand Baht. Obviously, it's not the best deal if you're in the middle of travelling, but if you live in Bangkok you might want to drop some cash on some. Chances are, unless you're already familiar with Thai or Chinese singers, you're not going to be particularly familiar with many of the names. But it's worth checking a few out - after all, what's the point of records if you can't hear them?
The names and the language might be unfamiliar to some, but put a few on and you'll notice a familiar rhythm and style that is analogous to the era rather than any particular country. If you're wanting to pick up a souvenir - and it's a good idea to pick up something if you've been browsing and sampling records - then a small EP of Thai folk music makes something unique to take home.
If you're a bit more of a music buff you might be more interested in checking out the pop and rock'n'roll records of the 1960s and 1970s. There's a huge variety to pour through, and you're not likely to find a comparable collection anywhere else.
So get yourself started with Tang Siang Thai and Broadway, but explore the surrounding sois and you'll find even more.
Tang Siang Thai Charoen Krung Soi 11, Charoen Krung Road