Secret soi haunts, and many a custom map illustration of the best spots in Bangkok; these are the things that defined the Nancy Chandler Map of Bangkok, considered the staple of every dedicated traveler to Bangkok for nearly half a century.
Run by a family business, the maps are now going away, being another casualty of the rise of Google Maps and other similar applications. Having nearly half a century ago, the business shut its presses down after 45 years selling maps for travelers and expats headed to Bangkok, with the last map having been printed earlier in May.
Nancy Chandler’s Graphics was founded back in1974, by an American, who would later pass it along to Nima Chandler, her daughter. Nima recalls that the first map owned by her mother was a fold-outspread of the Grand Palace area, drawn in a copy of American Women’s Club Magazine.
The places featured on the penultimate 2018 edition of the Bangkok custom map illustration was largely mapped out by the explorer, Roengsak, who spent years travelling through the sois of Bangkok.
Roengsak explains that he walked every soi in the Thai capital, looking for places that even the locals don’t know of, but should really go see.
In the penultimate iteration of the Nancy Chandler Map, air conditioned eateries are marked in blue, while vegetarian ones are marked with a V, allowing the people using the map to find a spot near famous Bangkok landmarks that they like.
Nima notes that these places aren’t the generic destinations found in Top Ten lists, but special places that’ll make a visit to Bangkok unique. She also notes that her mother is one of the first, if not the first, to translate the Thai street names of the capital into English, as Bangkok didn’t have English road signs back in the 70s.
Over the years, the company managed to stay strong in spite of the increasing digitalization of tourism, not only from map apps, but online Top 10 lists that point travelers to common tourist traps than the more natural, smaller destinations.
However, operations became less profitable over the years, which eventually led Nima to make the choice to close down Nancy Chandler’s in May of 2019. Notably, the company never took ads, in spite of many companies contacting them to be featured on their map.
Nima says that, they could’ve continued Nancy Chandler with ads, but opted not to, as that’s not what her mother would have wanted.