A narrow lane, just wide enough for a bike to get along, snakes through a maze of huts and shacks. This pleasant footpath leads to a peaceful, old community in Thonburi with historical importance.
Kudi Chin is a community of descendants of Portuguese settlers who moved from Ayutthaya after its decline some two hundred and thirty years ago. The most noticeable building is the catholic Santa Cruz Church; a place of worship that has been with the community since its beginning. Another survivor from those early days is khanom farang kudi chin or “kudi chin foreigners’ cake”, an icon of the community to the present day.
This quaint, antique, two-storey house is in a lovely setting, close to the Chao Phraya River. Its outstanding feature is the detailed fretwork, now unfortunately in a state of disrepair. Windsor house was originally owned by a wealthy British merchant who came to Thailand to trade and it still belongs to a descendant of the Windsor family. he house is in a very fragile condition but is still in its original form and so it is a place of great historic and architectural value to Bangkok.
This teak pavilion, with more of the delicate fretwork typical of Victorian architectural style, stands in front of the present Santa Cruz Church and was built at the same time. It is a popular spot for visitors to take photos.
Santa Cruz Church
The most eye-catching structure in the community is Santa Cruz Church, also known as Kudi Chin. It was built in Renaissance Revival style to replace the small and cramped earlier structure, destroyed by a fire more than one hundred years ago. The interior of the church is adorned with decorative stained glass. The church is not open for tourism but visitors are welcome to take pictures of the exterior.
Baan Kudi Chin Museum
This private museum is housed in a white, three-storey building with elegant Portuguese floor tiles. Antique items, such as everyday utensils, rare black and white photos of community life, and historic evidence of Portuguese settlement in this area is displayed on the second and third floors. The rooftop gallery is open to provide views of the community. On the ground floor is a café connected to a cool, shady garden serving the local snack called suppayaak, among other dishes. (Free admission, open from Tuesday to Sunday, 9.30am – 6pm; baankudichinmuseum.com)
Jantanaphap Thai House
This Victorian Thai house was built using golden teak in the reign of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V). The house bears a scar from the failed coup attempt in 1951, known as the Manhattan Rebellion since it occurred during the handover ceremony of the US dredge boat Manhattan to the Thai Navy. A bullet shot during the conflict hit one of the house’s windows. Inside the house are displays of historical photos and interesting antiques; the interior design of the house is also charmingly beautiful.
Thanusingh Bakery’s Khanom Farang Kudi Chin
Khanom farang kudi chin is the iconic item of this community; the cake is influenced by Portuguese and Chinese cooking. Historically, this cake was typically baked to be shared around on holy days. Today it is a popular snack. Wafting along the community’s narrow lanes, the sweet aroma of freshly baked khanom farang will lead visitors to the three houses that still make this cake. Thanusingh Bakery is one of them and the oldest in business. The family bakery, in its fifth generation, has been baking khanom farang for more than 150 years. Drinks are also served inside the bakery. (Open every day, 9am -5pm)
Kudi Chin Neighbourhood, Khwaeng Wat Kanlaya, Khet Thon Buri.