Bangkok is well known for it’s many markets which operate day and night. So here is my own take on some of the better known markets which are also easy to get to using the metro in Bangkok.

Chatuchak Weekend Market

This is the grand daddy of weekend markets in South East Asia. It’s also one of the world’s largest weekend markets covering 27 acres and housing more than 8,000 stalls selling merchandise from all parts of Thailand. I always try to schedule a visit to Chatuchak during each of my trips to Bangkok.

The huge size means that you never get to see all of the market at each visit and there’s always something new to see and buy each time I come back. As the name suggests, Chatuchak is open only during the weekends from 6am till 6pm, although some sections of the market like the flowers and wholesale areas are open during selected weekdays too. Even then on weekends, most of the stalls don’t open until 9am.

Chatuchak is easily accessible by the BTS Skytrain (Mo Chit Station) or MRT (Chatuchak Park Station or Kampheng Phet Station). The different stations will put you at different sections of the market. That’s how big this market is.

Chatuchak gets really crowded with both locals and tourists coming here to shop for bargains. Everyone will try to get in through the entrances near the metro station, but you can walk further down and find entrances which are less congested.
Some kids were trying to make some extra money busking. Like this kid who was quite skilled at keeping this toilet roll in the air without hitting the ground.
Another kid has the makings of Louis Armstrong, but with a traditional bamboo pipe instrument.

Having been here many times over the years, I do find that Chatuchak has become more commercialised for the tourists. but even then it’s still very local, and you will be able to find bargains for many of the local items that you see being sold in the shopping malls. Besides the usual market goods like clothing, jewelry and handicrafts, you can also find plants and gardening tools, pets and pets related accessories, books, antiques and collectibles, home decor and furniture, and art.

It’s easy to get lost in the warren of corridors and passages, so if you see something that you like, buy it right away. It’s unlikely that you can find your way back to the same stall again once you walk off.
Some shops offering services like haircuts have also sprung up. Although getting your haircut with the public looking at you is another thing.
It’s best to visit Chatuchak in the morning when the crowds are less and the temperatures cooler. By mid day the entire market is like a suana at times. luckily there are many stalls selling refreshments like this one where I stopped for a mango smoothie.

To me, every visit to Chatuchak is like a mini adventure. The crowds and the heat make it an exercise in physical and mental endurance, and you’ll never know what treasures you’ll find there.

Rod Fai Night Market at Ratchada

This night market at Ratchada is one of the newer night markets to pop up in Bangkok. An offshoot from the original Rod Fai Market at Srinakarin, this one is easier to get to by metro and more compact, meaning that you can just drop in anytime from Thursday to Sunday, 6pm till midnight for a quick browse. It also helps that this is one of the more photogenic night markets that has been featured in many a millennial’s Instagram feed.

This overhead shot of Rod Fai Market is probably what made it famous. Every night, photographers and Instagrammers will gather at the multi-storey carpark at the nearby Esplanade shopping mall to get this shot.
Rod Fai Market is not that big and you can cover it in a couple of hours. You can get there easily by the MRT and getting off at Thailand Cultural Centre Station.
Visiting the night market is definitely more comfortable as you don’t have to contend with the heat from the Sun, but the humidity can still be bothersome. Most of the stalls are manned by young adults and the range of goods also reflect their interests like this collectible toys stall.
Rod Fai Market has large areas which cater to feeding the hungry masses who come here for dinner and supper.
If you are wondering what is there to eat, seafood is a popular choice.
Otherwise, local snacks like this fried grasshopper among other exotic foods are also available.
And washed down with a watermelon slurpee.

For my recent trip, I made it a point to visit Rod Fai Night Market after seeing so many pictures and blogs about the food choices there. So if you are looking for dinner and shopping then this is a good place to start.

ICONSIAM

Well, ICONSIAM is not your traditional market, but the latest and greatest mega shopping mall to open in Bangkok. Technically, shopping malls are a modern interpretation of the traditional market where sellers and buyers come together to do commerce.

Located along the banks of the Chao Phraya River, ICONSIAM is has a nice facade with a river view.
At present, you can take the BTS skytrain to Saphan Taksin Station and walk to Sathorn Pier. There is a free river boat service that will shuttle you to the opposite shore at 10 minute intervals. Otherwise, taxis are the next convenient means of transport. In future there will be a metro line connecting ICONSIAM.
From the garden roof of ICONSIAM, you can enjoy views of Bangkok’s city skyline and see the latest skyscraper called the MahaNakhon. Standing at 314m tall, it’s the tallest building in Thailand now.

Besides the usual gamut of high end boutiques, electronics stores, lifestyle shops, restaurants and movie theatres, ICONSIAM actually has a sanitised version of Bangkok’s famous floating market in their basement. So if you are adverse to sun, heat and humidity, then shopping and eating in the air-conditioned comfort of this replica floating market would be a godsend for you.

The stalls are set up with a traditional look and sell local food products and handicrafts.
One of the canals of the floating market in ICONSIAM. It’s clean, not smelly and best of all, it’s air-conditioned so that you don’t have to sweat buckets. Of cause purists will be disgusted with the crass commercialisation.
You can even buy from vendors on boats in this replica floating market.

There are many more markets than those that I have here. Each market has it’s own unique stalls and characteristics, and which one is the best is really subjective to your taste and preferences. But each market is a microcosm of life in Bangkok, and I never get tired of visiting them.

5 thoughts on “Bangkok Markets

  1. There’s something iconic about these markets. I used to looooove shopping at markets but these days I feel I don’t really need anything. So I concentrate on the food, LOL!

  2. I’ve been to Bangkok three times but I haven’t gone to Chatuchak at all. After all these years thinking that it’s just one big market, now I start to get interested in knowing what its alleys have to offer — I’m interested in the plant section more than others, though.

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