No trip to Bangkok is really complete without at least visiting the many street markets. Found all over Bangkok, these markets sell just about anything, from clothes, to knockoff goods, to art and even antiques and vintage heirlooms.
The most famous of these are probably Chatuchak Weekend Market and Khao San Road. The first is considerably the world’s largest weekend market that covers an area of 27 acres that are divided into 27 sections, containing a total of 15,000 booths altogether. Within Chatuchak Weekend Market are your usual finds of trendy fashions, and handmade souvenirs from all over Thailand. But beyond these are also lanes of leather goods with many shops offering personalisations on the spot, as well as shops selling Thai ceramics and pottery, hand-spun by the shop owners themselves. Hidden somewhere in the middle is also an art gallery where artists stationed there paint gorgeous landscapes of Thailand’s most beautiful countryside, as well as portraits of monks and young Thai women in traditional dress.
Khao San Road is inarguably the original backpackers’ haunt of the world. Other than being packed with bars and pubs with go-go dancers, the 1km-stretch also has an eclectic mix of shops, including a bookshop filled with dog-eared Lonely Planet guides, stalls selling bikinis and sarongs, and even shops offering illegal music and movie downloads and even fake ID making. For those tired of the throngs of tourists that descend onto Khao San Road, the neighbouring Soi Rambuttri will be worth a visit. There are more wine and dine options here, as well as massage parlours but the real gems are the Muay Thai gym that accepts walk-ins for training, and the second-hand shops that buy and sell unwanted appliances, guitars and whatever the shop owners can get their hands on from backpackers looking to offload excess baggage.
Don’t limit your visits to Bangkok’s markets to these two, however. There are so many more to check out, such as Siam Square and Artbox, which are popular with youths for their stalls that sell hipster-esque accessories and provides live music through the night, and the Yaowarat/chinatown area that has Thieves Market, the place to go to
pick up contraband DVDS, fake luxury goods and knock-off electronics (at your own risk, of course).
If atmosphere is what you’re after, check out JJ Green Night Market, a daily market situated just behind the Chatuchak Weekend Market that is known for its selection of genuine vintage collectibles from various eras. JJ Green Night Market adds to the night scene with the watering holes situated within the market. Sip on chilled, cheap beer and cocktails as you spend the night offering your best bargains. More antiques, including furniture from around Southeast Asia can also be found at Talad Rod Fai Market (Train Market). This market is a favourite among collectors of memorabilia like old Coca-cola bottles and vintage car models. Asiatique Riverfront is also a great place to hang around for those who like breaks in between shopping sprees. The night bazaar next to the river has nightly shows, such as cabaret and Thai puppet performances.
ABOVE FROM LEFT Every trip to Chatuchak Weekend Market brings a new surprise as to what can be found! Soi Rambuttri is less crowded and offers a variety of trinkets for sale
OPPOSITE FROM TOP The original backpackers’ road is filled with souvenirs for tourists True vintages can be found at Talad Rod Fai Market