Yan Nawa was formerly called Ban Kok Khwai, or Ban Tavoy due to the presence of the Tavoy people who brought water buffaloes in the village to be traded in the market.

The district is known for its temples and for the Rama IX Bridge, the first cable-stayed bridge in the country, and the Bhumibol (Mega) Bridge. There are also a few shopping centres in Yan Nawa.