Part vintage store, part photo studio and part museum, Papaya Studio is a place unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. Grown from a collection of classic furniture and random oddities accumulated over the last 25 years by the eccentric shop owner, Mr. Tong, this massive depot now houses one of the largest vintage and antique collections in all of Asia – and a whole lot more organized than Wat Suan Kaew, another big antiques market just outside town.
Name anything, and you’re likely to find it somewhere hidden between the thousands of objects on display in this nondescript warehouse in Bangkok’s suburbs. Room after room is filled with everything from authentic Eames chairs to plastic R2D2’s, classic Chinese porcelain, gigantic chandeliers, life-size superhero figures, Italian bicycles, musical instruments, and neon signs. Pretty much anything you could imagine.
These thousands of objects are spread out over three stories in a maze-like structure of mock living rooms, gigantic cabinets, and narrow passageways. There is no store map, but most objects are displayed according to some kind of logical pattern, grouped by era, function or style. Retro chairs in the atrium on the ground floor, Asian antiques in the left wing on the second floor, Victorian furniture in a room on the third floor, and so on. My favorite area is the top floor, where the small livingroom-like studios are located (you’ll find them in the back). These studios can be rented by the hour as photography sets, but if you’re lucky they’re open and you’ll be able to hop inside to snap a few pictures.
(Not) for sale
Saw something you’d like to bring home? None of the items have a price tag, so your best bet is to snap a picture on your phone and head down to the front office to inquire about the price. You’ll have to hope for the best, though: prices can be pretty steep and in some cases, Mr. Tong will simply refuse to sell a particular item since it’s such a prized part of his collection. However, all items are for rent and are frequently used by prop stylists, event planners, and photographers all over Thailand.
For visitors, this is essentially a free museum of curiosities and a pretty cool way to spend an hour or two. Throughout the whole warehouse, shooting pictures with your phone or a simple point & shoot camera is no problem, but note that there is a reasonable fee when using professional camera equipment.
Coolness aside, I wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of the poor store clerk that has to close down the place at night, as I’m convinced there are at least 100 trapped souls roaming around when darkness falls…
55 /2 Lat Phrao Rd
Khet Wang Thonglang, Bangkok
Note: I usually take a taxi here. If you prefer to use public transport, keep in mind that the Lad Phrao MRT station is at least a 30-minute walk away, so cover the last bit by taxi or one of the buses leaving from Exit 3 (line 145, 545, 92 or 502).
02 539 8220
Monday – Sunday: 10 am – 6 pm