After Chiang Mai, my travels in Thailand last month took me to Bangkok and another bookshop to fall in love with. Passport Bookshop is much smaller than Chiang Mai’s Backstreet Books, but what it lacks in space, it makes up for in style. For starters, and this sort of thing is a great sign of a quirky bookshop, take a look at what I found just outside…
As well as having a sense of humour, the people that work at Passport Bookshop are also very warm and friendly. I was especially grateful that they allowed me to take photographs, even though there was a sign telling customers not to.
It was another day of extreme heat, so I ordered an iced cappuccino before having a proper explore. Listening to a lovely background of jazzy music, I sipped on my refreshing drink and gazed up. The walls were covered with all sorts of interesting objects; masks, Russian dolls, cameras, cloggs, straw hats and children’s toys. The place was full of knick-knacks and artwork but didn’t feel cluttered or untidy.
Finishing my coffee, it was time to take a look at the books. The shelves on the left-hand side of the shop were filled with mostly Thai books. I spent my time on the other side and near the entrance, where the English books lived. As well as general fiction and some interesting translations from local authors, a large part of this section was made up of books about spirituality and Buddhism. Even my coaster was philosophical!
As with most other bookshops that I visited on my trip, there was a colourful exhibition on the higher shelves showing off the gorgeous front covers of non-fiction books about Asian cuisine, textiles and art. I also found the usual array of Lonely Planet guides and maps, my favourite being the bright and fun maps by Nancy Chandler which are great if you are travelling with children (she also does cultural colouring books – take a look at her website).
I loved the playful tips and recommendations dotted around. One note, recommending Very Thai: Everyday Popular Culture by Philip Cornwel-Smith read something along the lines of “So you think you know Bangkok because you’ve been to Khao San Road? Think again, read this book and you’ll learn about proper Thai cultures.”
Another note pointed me towards The Judgement by Chart Korbjitti, which I’m not sure I’ll be able to get my hands on now I’m back in the UK!
If you don’t have space in your luggage for more books, you can always take away a smaller memento such as a CD, bookmark or postcard. Or you could simply soak up the atmosphere with a drink from the small café (a larger seating area upstairs opens up at the weekend).
You can probably find cheaper books and a larger selection elsewhere, but Passport Bookshop is a delightful stop-off point between tourist attractions if you plan it well.
Passport Bookshop is located on Phra Suman Road, not far from the Phanfa Bridge khlong stop on the canal – also ideal for visiting the Golden Mount. Google Maps has the bookshop’s correct location and also opening times – check before you go, as it seems to close on Mondays!
For more information (for Thai speakers) and photos (for everyone else), visit the Facebook page.