Los Angeles, CA – Thai Town is the center for the Thai Community in Los Angeles. This community is the largest community of Thai people outside of the Thailand. It backs up against and in some cases blends in with “Little Armenia”. Many Thai restaurants and shops are scattered along about a 1.5 mile stretch of Hollywood Blvd, just east of the 101.
To get to Thai town take the 101 to the Hollywood Blvd exit and exit east. Thai town starts almost as soon as you exit the freeway and start driving on Hollywood Blvd.
Thai Town compared to “Little Saigon” in Westminster in southern Orange County or LA’s Koreatown is so much smaller. Its like a blip on the map compared to these other vast sprawling communities. See our description on Little Saigon for more information or Koreatown here.
If you take the Metro get off of at the Hollywood Western Station which is on the Red Line Metro. This stop pops up just east of the 101 – and from here you will definitely have to do some walking to hit the highlights of Thai town.
Photo to left: Thai town as seen when leaving the 101 freeway
A first stop might well be the Thailand Plaza , the self titled “center of Thai Town”. Parking is in a garage – you pay for parking unless you purchase items from any of the vendors that surround this plaza or eat at the restaurant. Be sure to get the receipt from the store so that you can show the parking attendant on your way out. Parking in general is very tight in Thai town – many businesses have only a few parking spots – and often cars will double park in an area. One small one-story shopping complex even has a parking attendant collecting $1 for parking in the small lot, just to go to market or small restaurants. Parking can also be found in residential areas both north and south of Hollywood Blvd however these streets are already usually filled with residents’ cars.
Thailand Plaza is located 5321 Hollywood Blvd on the north side of the street. You can’t miss it; there is a tall orange sign in the front that says “Thailand Plaza”. There is good sized Thai grocery store located here – be sure to buy some of the Salacca Drink – you can NOT find this anywhere else. Dokya Bookstore is also located here which is a very good Thai bookstore where you can pick up current editions of the Bangkok Post, National Geographic and many other Thai books and magazines. They charge an annual fee for membership which affords you discounts on purchases; if you are not a member, the items are priced higher. Visit: www.dokyausa.com Phone: 323 464-7178
Crispy Pork Gang & Grill is located in a small Thai shopping center at 5235 Hollywood Blvd. The service is very quick – with generally very average or below average dishes. During our most recent stay we ordered the steamed fish which tasted like it had been sitting around too long before being steamed and the crying tiger meat dish – which was overcooked and the sauce extremely bland. (they deducted the price of the fish after we complained from the final bill). Very clean inside. The interior is somewhat decorated like the inside of a jet left over from the previous restaurant – so if you are somehow longing to have the “jet cabin” experience you might find it here. Purple seats – faux jet windows line the wall. Phone: (323) 465-9796
The original Hoy Ka Noodle shop is located at 5401 Hollywood Blvd. This small restaurant serves very authentic noodle soup – very similar to what you would find on the streets of Bangkok. During a recent visit even an old lady walked in selling fresh fruit! The boat noodle is excellent – their soups are available in typical “small Bangkok” portions as well as larger portions. Very reasonable prices. Street metered parking on Hollywood Blvd or free parking on nearby side streets. An ATM machine is located inside in case you are short of cash. Cash only. To preview their menu, visit: www.original-hoy-ka-hollywood.com
Jitlada Thai Restaurant is located at 5233 W Sunset Blvd in a small little shopping center. There is a small parking lot and you can either park here or on the nearby streets (metered parking). This restaurant has been written up in many food websites, magazines and newspapers. They focus on traditional Thai food from southern Thailand.
With such acclaim, we were expecting more authentic and superior tasting food. During a recent visit – it may have been an off night – but the food was just really just average – similar to what we often find in northern California based Thai restaurants which are not supported by a Thai community, like Thai town here in Los Angeles.
The food is also certainly more pricey than many of the nearby Thai restaurants. The best dish of the night was the vegetable, “morning glory” – we ordered several seafood dishes (average) – and the mango we ordered with sticky rice wasn’t that sweet. Visit: www.jitladala.com
KT Kruang Tedd is located at 5151 Hollywood Blvd – this very small restaurant serves authentic Thai food. Parking is always a hassle along this part of Hollywood Blvd but at least this restaurant is set back off the street and they have their own parking spots directly in front. A couple of plates we can recommend are the spicy soup and the chili lime fish which comes in a metal tray in the shape of a fish. A band is setup inside and in the evenings you will be treated to live music. Phone: (323) 667-9800
Palms Thai Restaurant is without a doubt is one of the top Thai restaurants in the entire state of California. Please visit our detailed description of this restaurant here and or their website: www.palmsthai.com
Ruen Pair is located in the back of the a valet (afternoon and evening only) shopping center at 5257 Hollywood Blvd – this small shopping center has several other restaurants but Ruen Pair along with Thai Patio are the two most popular restaurants here. Ruen pair serves very authentic Thai food and is always packed in the evenings. We will revisit and add a review here soon!
Sapp Coffee Shop is located in the small shopping center on the corner of Kingsley and Hollywood Blvd (north side of the street – 5183 Hollywood Blvd) – next to a video store. The soups here are extremely authentic – they taste just like what you would order on the streets of Bangkok. Our favorite is the Sen Mee Nua, Nam Tok. This is our number one restaurant in Thai town for eating this type of soup. They are closed Wednesdays. Take out ok. Phone: 323 665-1035
Upstairs in Thailand Plaza is the appropriately named, Thailand Plaza Restaurant . An older well-known Thai actor sometimes works here as the host. The food here is mostly authentic – live entertainment from a stage plays every night. If you are not sitting close to the stage, choose from any number of TV’s that broadcast the show. For more information about this restaurant and Thailand Plaza in general please visit their website: www.thailandplazala.com
Thai Patio is located in the often busy shopping center located right next to “Thailand Plaza”, the heart of Thai Town. As with other parking in this area parking can be sometimes quite difficult to find especially on the weekends. As a result, this shopping center has valet parking during busy hours. This restaurant can also be very crowded. Long tables seat parties next to each other – live music is often available. The service is fairly quick even when they are busy (the waiters really hustle) and the food is certainly authentic. Thai Patio is located at 5273 Hollywood Blvd – Phone: (323) 466-3894
Thai Dessert House is located next to the old Palm Thai Restaurant in a small shopping center at 5273 Hollywood Blvd. During weekends and weekday evening this shopping center typically only allows you to park in the small parking lot via a Valet Parking service, however if you tell them you are only going to the Thai dessert shop and there are some extra spaces in the small lot in the back, they may let you pull in yourself and park for free. The Durian chips in the square hard plastic containers are expensive but quite good. There are several other restaurants in this shopping center all serving very authentic Thai food. The restaurant in the north west corner which contains a small dessert shop is also very good.
Want some authentic Thai dessert and candy? Bhan Kanom Thai has three locations – our favorite is at 5271 Hollywood Blvd. Great selection of dried candies and fruits including Durian and Jakfruit chips. Visit: www.bhankanomthai.com or Phone: (323) 871-8025
Other Thai restaurants we will try when in town:
Do you recommend any Thai restaurants that we have not yet tried? Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Consider having a Thai massage while you are in Thai Town. Some businesses will offer reduced rates before 3pm. Our choice is the R4U Massage & Spa located on the south side of the street at 5300 Hollywood Blvd. Choose from short to rather lengthy massages. We have had the foot and full body Thai massage. Very relaxing and affordable. For more information call 323 465-2755
Another very friendly and professional massage / spa is Nuch Massage also located on the south side of Hollywood Blvd (5134). Great foot massages here! Talk to the owner Nuch – she’s pleasant and outgoing and usually on site. Incidentally this was the first massage business to open in Thai Town. Visit: www.nuchmassage.com
PhotaLai is a small massage business located at 5401 Hollywood Blvd. They were founded in 2004. Parking is metered on Hollywood Blvd or free on nearby side streets. They offer a variety of massages including Swedish, Deep Tissue, and Thai Reflexology. Depending on the time of day and week you can walk in – although reservations are recommended. The massage tables are lined up in long room with thick curtains between for privacy. The bathroom is all the way in the back. Strong massage therapists. Located next door to Hoy Ka Noodle Shop – great place to stop after a relaxing massage! Visit: www.photalaithaimassage.com
Another Thai massage place we recommend which has affordable pricing is Thai Sabai Massage located at 5261 Hollywood Blvd. Visit: www.thaisabai.com or Phone: 323 485-2800
Hollywood Hair Designs was located in a small Thai oriented shopping plaza and had been in business for over 30 years, run by the same owner Tony… as he says, “before Thai town was even here”. He is a great guy who knew all the local history and was able to really tell an entertaining story and provide a good haircut. Unfortunately his shop is now closed – and we fear he may have succumbed to his diabetes
The Thai New Year (Songkran Festival) in Thailand is always celebrated on April 15th, but the Thai New Years Festival in Thai town is always held the first Sunday of every April. Because 5 major blocks of Hollywood Blvd are completely closed to traffic and the large crowds that hit this event, it is highly recommended you take the Metro or use the Park-and-Ride lot. If you take the metro jump on the Red Line and get off on the Hollywood/Western stop. This is Thai culture at its best (outside of Thailand that is). The center of the street is filled with food, vendor, fruit carvings and other educational booths. A boxing ring is setup for ongoing Muay Thai (Thai Boxing events) including even little kids who fight each other. The fights always draw huge crowds. Famous Thai VIPS and celebrities including actors and musicians are flown in from Bangkok to participate in this new year’s celebration. IPtv which is the main Thai TV station for Thai’s abroad, broadcasts live and interviews famous people. There are several stages including a culture stage and musical stage – we saw the famous Swedish duo Jonas and Christy perform live – always a treat to see two Farang (foreigners) singing old Thai country music to the great appreciation of the mostly Thai crowd.
This is heart of Thai Town and the shops and restaurants do triple time to accommodate the crowds that frequent their establishments during this one busiest day of the year. We’ve seen police and firemen trying to block crowds from going into some of the stores b/c it was wall to wall people inside! Even the Mayor of Los Angeles typically attends this event and participates in the Parade – which usually takes place on the eastern part of Hollywood Blvd that is closed to through traffic. Another highlight is the Thai beauty pageant where the women walk down the catwalk strutting their stuff to what we can only describe as rhythmic house music. Ages of the contestants in past years have ranged from 16 to 25. View our photos below and also visit: www.thainewyear.com
Wat Thai although not a part of the Thai town itself serves as a central meeting point for Thai’s and others. Wat Thai is located at 8225 Coldwater Canyon Ave right near the Hollywood Freeway (the 170). From Thai Town in the south, jump on the 101 freeway north to the 170 North and get off at Roscoe Blvd West and Wat Thai is located about a block or two in from the freeway. This is one of the largest Thai temples in the USA. You can also get to Wat Thai from the 101 by exiting at Woodmanse or Coldwater Canyon and driving on surface streets.
Without a doubt the best times to be here are during two annual major Thai National Holidays such as the Songkran Festival in mid April (Thai New Years water festival), or Loy Kratong in mid October. If you cannot make it during these or other Thai holidays, try to make it at least during the mid-day on Sundays. Part of the parking lot is turned into food vendors – you can get very authentic Thai food here. In order to buy food you must pay for plastic colored chips at the main booth. Each colored chip corresponds to a certain dollar value. Thai baht is not accepted. More information is here: www.watthaiusa.org
If you enter the main Wat you must leave your shoes at the entrance. Shorts worn inside is ok, just be sure not to sit down with your feet pointed towards the Altar/Buddha in the front. You can try shaking the wooden Sium Si – in which you want to shake it so that only one of the
many sticks inside falls out. When you have only one stick on the floor – pick it up and look at the number on it. Then walk over to the wall on the left and choose the paper corresponding to the number on your stick. If it is good luck you can stop shaking the Sium Si; if it mentions bad luck in your life shake the sticks until you get a positive one.
Songkran Festival (Wat Thai) – is a celebration of the Thai New Year is always held in Thailand on April 15th. Because the weather this time of year is so hot and humid in Thailand water is always a big part of this festival – i.e. people throw lots of water on each other! However these water fights during Songkran at Wat Thai are typically usually just between children. The Songkran Festival at Wat Thai is always held the 2nd weekend in April on both Saturday and Sunday. Saturday has additional events that do not appear on Sundays schedule including the ever popular Thai beauty contest, however if the weather is good, both days see large crowds.
During Songkran Wat Thai fills up with visitors, the parking lot on the east side is completely turned into food vendors selling great authentic Thai food as well as Thai craft vendors. In addition there is music and dancing and other cultural events on the central stage. Tickets are also sold for prize items – you fish out plastic eggs from a pond and the numbers in each egg correspond to various prizes. In the afternoons dancing takes place with a large group of dancers circling several times through the temple playing music and beating drums. It is a very festive atmosphere. The weather in mid April is typically typical LAish, warm, sunny and mostly clear. We’ve been to this event 6x now and have always experienced decent weather.
For parking, it is best to arrive early – in any case you most likely will have to park on either side of Coldwater Canyon in the residential neighborhoods and walk several blocks at minimum to the temple.
In and around the temple can be insanely crowded on all streets during this event. There is always shuttle parking provided from the nearby Kaiser Hospital (address – 11668 Sherman Way).