Why are we so enthralled with markets? Abroad or at home, I’m an addict. Craft market, artisan market, farmer’s market, it doesn’t matter – I’ll go anywhere. Even if I don’t intend to buy anything, I’ll still go (ditto for festivals with random themes like Ottawa’s bacon festival or its lantern festival).
Thailand has markets in just about every town and city and some are must a see while others you can skip.
Here are my favourite markets in Thailand…
- Chatuchak Market
If you only have time to visit one market, make it this one. It’s only open on Saturdays and Sundays so you’ll need to adjust your travel plans accordingly.
So. Many. Stalls. Over 25,000 stalls, in fact.
The market is housed in three main makeshift-buildings with hundreds upon hundreds of stalls running down main arteries, little alleyways and offshoots of offshoots. Just accept from the very beginning that you will get lost and have no idea where you are most of the time, are likely to backtrack down an alley you’ve already seen at least twice (but you will notice new things), and just enjoy the fun.
You can get a map at the entry point or online here. I didn’t necessarily find the map to be all that helpful as there can be dozens of rows in one section, and the map just says that there are four or five main rows. I used the clock tower located in the middle of the main square to navigate which way I was going or what building I had already explored. And really? Who cares. You’ll have so much fun walking through all the stalls and looking around that it doesn’t really matter where you are.
The market is organized into “sections” where certain areas sell only clothes or only furniture or only jewelry, etc. But don’t be surprised to see sections bleeding into each other. To be honest, the only real delineation I saw was when I stumbled into the pottery/ceramics section.
Between each “building” is a plethora of street food vendors for all your snacking needs. Pad Thai, crepes, grilled chicken, curries, coffee, fresh fruit, etc.
I spent about five or six hours meandering in the market and didn’t see everything. I found some great buys that I love and wear on a regular basis.
If your feet get sore, don’t worry – there are several massage vendors throughout the market so you’re good hands (see what I did there?).
Date: Saturdays and Sundays
Time: 6 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Getting there: BTS Skytrain to Mo Chit station or MRT to Chatuchak Station or MRT Kamphaenpetch Station
- Thai Craft Fair
This craft fair is held once a month (usually on a Saturday) in downtown Bangkok. About 50 village groups attend each fair to showcase and sell their handmade handicrafts from all over Thailand. This was one of my favourite places to pick up unique and quality-made gifts for family and friends (and of course, stuff for me!). They have a beautiful variety of jewelry, furnishings, pottery, accessories, home décor, etc. The items on display can change month to month so there is always a refreshed variety of gifts on display. Expect to pay a bit more for the items at the Craft Fair than in other markets in Thailand. However, the prices are still a bargain compared to what you’d pay in your home country (I’m operating on Canadian prices) AND you’ll immediately see the difference in quality and craftsmanship.
Just outside the main area, you fill find some vendors have set up stalls and sell homemade bread, vegetables, fruits, and ready to eat snacks.
You can check out their website to find out when the next monthly fair takes place.
Location: Jasmine City Building, ‘L’ Floor, Sukhumvit Road (at entrance to soi 23)
Date: Occurs monthly, dates vary
Time: 10 am – 3 pm
Getting there: BTS Asok Station (EXIT 3) or MRT Sukhumvit Station (EXIT 2)
- Bang Nam Pheung Market
This market is mostly food based and is ideal for guiltless snacking. It’s best to get here early (before 10:00 a.m.) to avoid the crowds and give you a chance to get a good look at what’s on display and chat with the vendors. I didn’t see a lot of tourists when I visited but I went early in the morning. One of my favourite dishes was Khao Moo Op which is a whopping plate of rice topped with roasted or grilled pork (about $1.50 CDN).
Location: Soi Bua Phueng Phatthana
Date: Saturdays and Sundays
Time: 8:30 a.m.
Getting there: BTS to Bang Na, followed by a short taxi ride to the pier at Wat Bang Na Nork. From there, take the river-crossing ferry (4B or $0.15 CDN) followed by a short motorcycle taxi ride (10B or $0.37 CDN).
- Night Train Market (Rod Fai)
Loud. Chaotic. Charming. What more could you ask of a night market? This is place is enormous and you’ll see conflicting reviews and information on various websites as there is another market by the same name (Rod Fai). This market has everything: fantastic food (from Pad Thai to crunchy grasshoppers), live music, vintage/classic cars on display, vintage and antique wares on sale, clothing, jewelry, Gameboys from the 90s (indulge your inner nostalgia), and various collectibles (Star Wars fans converge!).
This market isn’t exactly on the tourist track so you can expect to see lots of locals hanging out and enjoying the evening.
Location: Srinakarin Soi 51
Date: Thursday to Sunday
Time: 5:00 p.m. to 1:00 a.m.
Getting there: BTS to On Nut station followed by a taxi ride to Seacon. You will then need to hoof it a few blocks to get behind Seacon. Honestly? Just take a taxi – it is much easier and it’s really not that expensive (about $11 CDN) if you have a metered taxi.
Have you been to one of the markets above? What was your favorite buy? What’s your favorite market?