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Shalom, Bangkok: A Jewish Culture Guide

Bangkok, Thailand is ready and welcoming for all Jewish visitors from around the world. Numbering in the tens of thousands each year, there is one place where they all flock to, and rightly so.

By: Anthony Marcusa
Published: May 21st, 2013 in Culture » Society » News

And we’re off, to anywhere and everywhere, as we say ‘Shalom’ every week to different global travel destination. World cities, provincial towns, and even the most unassuming of suburbs are infused with Jewish history and culture, some of which is waiting to be discovered.

For the pious follower, the curious traveler, or the intrepid adventurer, we’ll unearth the best of what to do and where to go. Be it an emerging subculture, a historical landmark, or simply a triumph of art in any form, Jewish experiences are found around the world; and likely as well in your backyard.

It may be in the destination, the journey, or the company, but there is much to uncover and celebrate near and far, so hurry up and get going.

Shalom, Bangkok


Despite boasting a Jewish population of roughly 300, with almost all living in the capital city of Bangkok, Thailand is ready and welcoming for all Jewish visitors from around the world. Numbering in the tens of thousands each year, there is one place where they all flock to, and rightly so.

It matters not your nationality, only your religion at the Chabad House in Bangkok, the metropolitan city of Southeast Asia with over 14 million people. Only Jews are allowed in this popular retreat, where internet and phone are free, and so are the Friday night dinners. There is wine, praying, storytelling, often singing, and lots of revelry. The men are all required to cover their heads, however should you have forgotten or misplaced your yarmulke, Chabad House will provide you with a temporary one. You can tell it’s on loan as it has their logo on it. The hosts are generous and understanding, though, so a baseball cap will even suffice, or a head band.

Followers of Chabad House’s Lubavitch Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson, who has since passed, are Hassidic, but guests to the Bangkok attraction comes from all faiths. Life bustles during the week, as travelers come and go, taking up the complimentary services, but there is a marked change come Shabbat. From sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday, Chabad House strictly observes Orthodox Jewish law; online and calling privileges are suspended, and whatever manual labor needs to be done is tended to by Thai locals.


It is especially attractive for young Jewish tourists, offering help in booking hotels, making necessary arrangements, and offering a chance to meet other young travelers. Bangkok features two other synagogues that offer Shabbat services and kosher meals, but Chabad House is the biggest and most notable. For example, it houses the city’s only kosher restaurant. Situated on the main floor of the five-storey edifice now located on 96 Ram Buttri Road, the restaurant not only welcomes the public regardless of belief, but will also deliver anywhere in the country you desire – or so they say.

While backpackers, explorers, and tourists alike come to Chabad House to connect and enjoy in its community, its neighbourhood, Bangkok’s famous Khao San Road, offers plenty of excitement as well for those passing through. Israeli restaurants and businesses line the street, and there is both a feeling of familiarity and newness that meets the curious traveler. Bangkok, along with Mumbai and other major cities of Southeast Asia are among the key stops for many young Israelis who travel following time served in the army.

Related articles: Shalom, Bangkok, Thailand, Jewish, Culture Guide, Vacation, Travel, Backpacking, Tourism, Chabad, Rabbi
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