Area - 1.416 km2 (0.547 sq mi)
Population - 26,932
The area has been a Chinese community since the early days of Bangkok. Originally living in what is now the Phra Nakhon District, they were relocated here when the capital was set up. The narrow Sampheng Lane (สำเพ็ง, now called Wanit I Road, วานิช 1) was the district's main street until Yaowarat Road was constructed in 1892 during the reign of King Chulalongkorn. Sam Peng is depicted on the back of series 15 20 baht banknotes, to commemorate an important post-World War II visit by young king Rama VIII (accompanied a pace behind by HM's brother, Prince Bhumibol, with his ever-present camera.) Nowadays, Yaowarat Road remains the heart of Bangkok's Chinatown.
The area now in the Samphanthawong District was once three separate amphoes, Samphanthawong, Sam Yaek, and Chakkrawat established on 15 October 1915 where old districts were overhauled and replaced by 25 new districts to cover inner part of Bangkok. Amphoe Sam Yaek and Amphoe Chakkrawat were later merged into Amphoe Samphanthawong. The amphoe became Khet Samphanthawong in 1972. It is believed that the name Samphanthawong was derived from Wat Samphanthawongsaram, the temple near the district office when it was first built. Now the district office has moved to Yotha Road in Talat Noi Sub-district.
Some of well-known Thai Buddhist temples in the district are:
- Wat Traimit(วัดไตรมิตรวิทยารามวรวิหาร) is known for its giant Buddha image made from solid gold and weighing about 5.5 tonnes. The gold was hidden under plaster for centuries until being rediscovered in 1954.
- Wat Pathum Khongkha(วัดปทุมคงคา) is an ancient wat, renovated and renamed from Wat Sampheng during King Rama I
- Wat Chakkrawat(วัดจักรวรรดิราชาวาสมหาวิหาร) or Wat Sam Pluem (วัดสามปลื้ม)
Many Chinese temples and shrines are also here, including:
- Leng Buai Ia Shrine(ศาลเจ้าเล่งบ๊วยเอี๊ยะ), the oldest shrine in the area, about 300 years old.
- Ah Nia Geng Shrine(ศาลเจ้าอาเนี้ยเก็ง) or Chue Pui Nia Nia Shrine (ศาลเจ้าฉื่อปุยเนี่ยเนี้ย), a shrine to Kuan Yin.
- Guan Yu Shrine(ศาลเจ้าพ่อกวนอู), shrine to Guan Yu and his horse Sek Tao.
- Thien Fah Foundation(มูลนิธิเทียนฟ้า), the first foundation registered in Thailand, established to provide health care for the poor. Inside there is a Guan Yin
- Bunyasamakhom Shrine(ศาลเจ้าโรงเจบุญสมาคม)
The most famous Chinese temple in the area, Wat Mangkon Kamalawat (วัดมังกรกมลาวาส), popularly known as Wat Leng Noei Yi (วัดเล่งเน่ยยี่), lies just outside Samphanthawong boundary in the neighboring Pom Prap Sattru Phai District.
There are other places of historic interest in Samphanthawong. Wat Mae Phra Luk Prakham (วัดแม่พระลูกประคำ) or Holy Rosary Church, on the bank of Chao Phraya River, is one of the oldest Catholic churches in Bangkok. It is more widely known by its older name Wat Kalawar (วัดกาลหว่าร์), named after Calvary. It was first built in 1787 during King Rama I period by settlers who migrated from Ayuthaya when the city was lost to Burma. The current building was constructed in 1890.
Upriver from the church is Thailand's first commercial bank building. The building was constructed in 1904 and houses the Talat Noi Branch of Siam Commercial Bank. Downriver from Holy Rosary Church is River City Shopping Complex, a shopping center specializing in arts and antiques.
There are numerous markets around Samphanthawong. There are many shops and stalls along Yaowarat, Sampheng (now Wanit 1), and Charoen Krung Roads, especially at night and during weekends. Saphan Lek, the older name of the bridge crossing Khlong Ong Ang canal on Charoen Krung Road, is a narrow strip along both sides of Khlong Ong Ang with lots of small shops selling goods. Nearby is Woeng Nakhon Khasem (เวิ้งนครเกษม) or "thieves market". The Khlong Thom Market (in Pom Prap Sattru Phai District), once a famous market for low cost goods and electronics, is a large area of several blocks on the opposite side of Charoen Krung Road. The small lanes inside the blocks were fully packed with stalls operating on Saturday nights till Sunday mornings, but it is now closed as part of pavement cleanup campaign in March 2015.
Several Chinese festivals are held here yearly. Yaowarat Road is often closed to traffic during these periods.
- Chinese New Year Festival (เทศกาลตรุษจีน) is the biggest festival with dragon dances, lion dances, and people dressed in red.
- Mid-Autumn Festival(เทศกาลไหว้พระจันทร์) with shops selling mooncakes.
- ChineseVegetarian Food Festival (เทศกาลกินเจ) (1st to 9th day of 9th lunar month) is a nine-day period when many Chinese practice vegetarianism and dress in white. All over Yaowarat Road, vegetarian food stalls with yellow flags and the Chinese character 齋 in red can be seen. Some foods look like meat but are made from soybeans.