Memos from Asia

5 Best Markets to Visit in Bangkok, Thailand

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Nothing can better complete a trip to Thailand’s capital than a visit to one of Bangkok’s markets with an absolute plethora of goods on display, friendly vendors and delicious snacks and drinks to sample. What’s more, Thailand boasts a market experience like no other if you visit one of the floating markets which sees you seated in a boat and driven to other floating stalls that sell mostly fresh produce but also live poultry as well as other knick-knacks and souvenirs.

Something to keep in mind is that haggling is part of the game so if you intend on buying something remember to bargain with the seller. The first price they give you will be always be on the high side so afterwards a negotiation will ensue as you counter their offer and on it goes.

Markets are reachable by the metro train or by taxi, (Grab being the most popular Uber-like transport application) or via a more traditional experience in a tuk-tuk. So without further ado allow me to give you a list of some of the best markets to visit whilst in Bangkok.

1. Rot Fai or Train Night Market

Bangkok’s authentic open-air bazaar is absolute favourite and must visit – the Rot Fai or Train Night Market (as it is translated into English). If you love all things retro or, are an antiques collector, the Rot Fai Night Market is the one for you. It’s the market where you can find vintage memorabilia, antique furniture and other collectables – prepare to see several vintage cars on display. However, not only does the market sell vintage memorabilia and antiques but also a variety of electronics, second-hand toys and clothing. There are also food stalls selling mouth-watering delicacies and waterholes where you can take a break and have a Thai iced coffee or fresh fruit juice. Street food is not to be missed here – sample the barbequed meats on sticks, and friend noodles. A highlight not to be missed are the food trucks playing loud music whilst serving food and drinks against a backdrop of twinkling fairy lights.

Prices are very fair, although of course some haggling is encouraged but the vendors are extremely friendly as one would expect in the Land of Smiles.

The market was forced to move in 2013 due to the expansion of the BTS Sky Train line and whilst many thought it would signal the demise of this unique attraction. But the market made a remarkable comeback bigger than before. Now it includes 3 zones names the Market Zone, the Warehouse Zone and “Rod’s Antiques”. It is supported by locals and foreigners and loved for it’s artsy and retro vibe.

How to get there: The Ratchada Train Market is easy to find as it’s located directly behind Cultural Centre MRT Underground Station. If you’re taking a taxi, be sure to stress that you want to go to Ratchada (not the Srinakarin one).

Location: Ratchadaphisek Road, Din Daeng, Bangkok 10400, Thailand

Open: Daily from 5pm to 1am

2. Chatuchak Weekend Market

The biggest market in Thailand, the Chatuchak Weekend Market is divided up into over 27 sections with over 15 000 stalls with this variety there is surely something for every taste. From clothes, accessories, knick-knacks, household items, decorative items, antiques (real and fake), Thai handicrafts, and live animals (including endangered species). It’s advisable to get there early in the morning when it opens as the afternoons can become uncomfortably hot and busy as well as having sold out of a lot of the best stock already.

Although of course haggling is a part of the selling process here prices are so low it will be difficult to bargain them down further. From art to trendy clothing the Chatuchak Weekend Market offers it all. The sheer size of the market makes it easy to get lost so create a meeting to meet up at should you get separated from your travel companions.

The market serves many delicious local treats and Thai coconut ice cream which is a must on a hot day. If you have a sweet tooth this market has so many wonderful delights on offer from crepes with Nutella and banana to brownies and fresh fruit. Coconuts are readily available.

How to Get There: There are many different ways to get to Chatuchak Weekend Market. Take the BTS Skytrain to Mochit and follow the signs or the crowd. You can also take the MRT Subway to Chatuchak Park. A taxi driver should also know where this is. If a driver seems to have trouble understanding, pronounce Chatuchak like Jatujak.

Location: 587/10 Kamphaeng Phet 2 Road, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900

Opening hours: Friday nights from 6pm, Saturdays and Sundays (9am until 6pm)

3. Phat Pong Night Market Silom

Located in Bangkok’s famous or rather infamous “Red Light District” Pat Pong comes alive after 9pm and stays lively into the early hours of the morning. Phat Pong is also notorious for its variety of faux watches, sneakers and handbags alongside streets with Go-Go bars and raunchy “Lady-Boy” shows. It is an experience like no other but one can also find some more traditional goods like handcrafted Thai ornaments and other collectable items that would make great gifts to take back home.

It is safe to visit and a great deal of fun after dinner to stroll around the streets pulsating with music and calls luring in to one of the bars. The wide array of goods on display make it a budget shoppers heaven and even if you leave with nothing the experience will stay with you for a lifetime.

How to get there: Take the Patpong night market BTS (Skytrain) and get off your ride at Sala Daeng. You may also take the MRT subway and alight at Silom.

Location: Thanon Patpong 1, Suriya Wong, Bang Rak, Bangkok 10500, Thailand

Patpong night market opening hours: 6 PM – midnight

4. Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market

With its close proximity to the Capital this floating market is a great treasure – it is visited by locals and foreigners alike. Sampling a variety of traditional Thai dishes prepared on boats is the highlight of the floating market, sitting on the bank of the canal whilst ordering freshly prepared dishes from on the boats anchored nearby is about as unique and adventurous as your Thai experience can get.

Some of the must try dishes include pad thai, kanom jeen (cold rice vermicelli) or hoi tod (oyster omelette) and freshly prepared boat noodles. Dishes cost around 30 Baht ($1) each which is extremely good value for money.

There is a part of the market that is not afloat and that side, as you arrive sells a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables as well as a few other items. But undoubtedly it is the idea of purchasing your lunch while cruising the canals that draw tourists in.

Although there are several floating markets throughout Bangkok the Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market is the most convenient to reach by Skytrain or relatively inexpensive taxi or Grab and is something that can be completed in a half day without losing the whole day. It’s simply a must do!

How to get there: You can get there by taxi from the Wongwian Yai BTS Skytrain Station

Location: 30/1 หมู่ที่ 15 Bang Ramat Rd, Bang Ramat, Taling Chan, Bangkok 10170, Thailand

Opening times: Saturdays–Sundays from 8am to 5pm (closed on weekdays)

5. Bangkok Flower Market – Pak Khlong Talat

Flowers are especially significant in Thai culture – given as gifts and placed all over homes to bring in luck and prosperity. Flower garlands are extremely common and found at temples, wedding celebrations and more than likely you will find them hanging from the rear – view mirrors in most taxis as a talisman of luck and protection. Temples and hotel require daily decorations and arrangements to be provided.

With this in mind it is no wonder that there is flower market of this enormity and popularity. Pak Klong Talat is the biggest flower market in Bangkok and provides flower arrangements to most of the hotels in the city as well as for the temples as offerings. Almost every type of flower imaginable can be found at this market. Product prices fluctuate throughout the year as demand increases and declines for holidays such as Songkran festival or Valentine’s Day, however the market tends to be affordable and cater to almost any request even for imported flowers or an exotic type of arrangement or bouquet.

Thailand is the biggest exporter of orchids so expect to be entranced by the wide variety of colours and species.

How to get there: Being on the riverside as it is, the easiest way to get to Pak Klong Talat flower market is by taking the Chaophraya Express river boat to either the Yodpiman River Walk or Rajinee piers; both the blue-flag tourist boat and the orange-flag local boat stop here.

Opening hours: 24 hours

5. MBK Centre

Bangkok, Thailand – April 17,2015: MBK’s shopping mall at dusk with people driving cars on the street next to it.

If the humidity outside proves to be too much MBK might be the answer. Instead of an open-air market you will find 8 floors of stalls, vendors and shops well air -conditioned but still with the ambiance of exploring an outdoor market. The mall-market hybrid has become increasingly popular and frequented by tourists as the years have passed by (it opened in 1985).

It is the best place to go to haggle, find souvenirs and gifts to take home and to find bargains. It is not the best place to find high end goods and have a relaxing stroll. Tourists should also be warned that MBK is not always the cheapest place to find an item, because haggling is a foreign concept to Westerners it is important not to pay the price as is given but to engage in negotiations to avoid being ripped off. Not all items are negotiable, those with price stickers and sold at more regular “shop”-looking stores usually are not but most of the other counters and market-style shops are. Be wary of tailors who may show you one material only to use a cheaper and different variant later on after you have paid for it already.

You can find almost anything under one roof from clothing to electronics to household items to photo printing stores or beauty salons. A food court is also located on the top floor and is useful after all the walking around and haggling. It is conveniently located on the BTS Skytrain Line at the National Stadium Stop.

How to get there: Just get yourself to the nearest BTS Skytrain station by foot or taxi then take the train to the National Stadium stop. Follow the signs to MBK as you exit the station. To avoid needing to transfer trains at Siam Station to go one stop, you could just alight there and walk 10 minutes west to MBK

Location: 444 Phayathai Rd, Wang Mai, Pathum Wan District, Bangkok 10330, Thailand

Opening hours: 10am – 9pm daily

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