Thai people's daily life begins and revolves around local markets. Some start at dawn, when vendors open their awnings, and last until dusk, when the last costumers leave.
Each local market has its own peculiar charm that you should not miss. Add them to your itinerary and find out what Thai people buy every day, from staple food, fresh vegetables, perky flowers, to pleasant surprises such as fried bugs.
- Get a little lost on a corner of the world's biggest weekend market.
- Personalize your own garland by picking and arranging the flowers in a private workshop.
- Walk, eat or dance the night away at Thailand's largest open-air mall.
- Hunt fresh fruit in Bangkok's biggest wet market.
- Capture the seconds before the train passes through the narrow alley of Maeklong Train Station Market.
Covering an area of 35 acres, Chatuchak Market is the largest weekend market in Thailand, also in Asia. It sells almost everything from iconic Thai pants, Morrocan lamps to gardening tools, all at a heavenly affordable price, yet you still can bargain on it.
What to look for
The market is ordered according to sections. After entering, the main walkway then splits into smaller alleys, Soi 1, Soi 2, Soi 3, and so on. Each alley is grouped into 27 sections which are semi-categorized; you may find a variety of goods in one section.
Clothing and accessories dominate the market from sections 2 to 6 and 10 to 26; sections 8 to 11 are for handicrafts. While exploring the market, a map will come in handy. But should you need assistance, the information center is available near the northern end of the market, as well as ATMs and money changers.
What to eat and drink
Being tired and hungry is never an appropriate way to end your tour. Find your lunch at food stalls between sections 2 to 4 and 23 to 27. The choice is quite wide, from tasty chicken biryani at a Thai-Muslim restaurant to pad thai (Thai's original fried noodles) and many others. Last but not least, you can finish off with a tasty fruit shake to restore the smile.
Wednesday to Thursday 7am - 6pm: plant section only
Friday 6pm - 12pm: wholesale only
Saturday and Sunday 9am - 6pm: whole market open
Location: Kamphaeng Phet Road, Lat Yao, Chatuchak
How to get there: By Sky Train to Mo Chit Station (Sukhumvit Line), take exit no 1. Leaving the station, you will come across rows of canvas; keep following the way until you reach a small entrance of the market's clothing sections, around 9 km from the city center.
Pak Khlong Talat Flower Market
Pak Khlong Talat is open 24 hours a day, once a street-side flower market, now the city's largest flower market. It sells all kinds of flowers such as roses, jasmines, orchids, lilies, most of them sold in packs of 50 or 100.
The best time to visit is during and after midnight, when the truckloads of fresh flowers arrive at the market and are welcomed by wholesellers and florists for their fresh flower stock of the day; a very chaotic but fascinating scene.
What to look for
Understand more about flowers, used as offerings to religious deities in Thai society, and handpick your most favorite flowers while learning how to make your very own garland in a private workshop. Contact us to arrange it for you.
Opening hours: 24 hours
Location: Chak Phet Road
How to get there: Take the Sky Train to S6 Saphan Taksin Station (Silom Line), take exit 2 and walk to Chao Phraya Express Boat Pier. Take the Express Boat from Sathorn Pier (Central Pier) up the river to Memorial Bridge Pier (Saphan Phut).
Asiatique The Riverfront
After its extensive renovation in 2011, Asiatique The Riverfront became Thai's first and largest open-air mall, a one-stop entertainment site that has successfully combined shopping, dining, sightseeing, activities and events.
What to look for
The mall is divided into four main districts, each huge enough to spend the whole evening without getting bored. Handicrafts and souvenirs can be found in Charoen Krung district, while the Factory district is for street-wise fashion, boutiques and also restaurants; the Town Square district is where you can find sports bars and cafes.
The last district, Waterfront Promenade, has more upscale choices of diners from Western to Thai food and is said to be Bangkok's longest promenade, with 300 meters.
Opening hours: 17:00 to midnight
Location: 2194, Charoen Krung Road, Wat Phraya Krai
How to get there: ??By BTS, get off at Saphan Taksin and take the free shuttle at the end of the pier. The ferry starts from 4pm to 8pm and departs every 15 minutes.
Klong Toey Fresh Market
As the name explains, everything in Klong Toey Fresh Market is fresh. It is Bangkok's main seaport as well as the biggest wet market. Goods are sold in bulk to distributors of the smaller markets all over the city, so expect it to be lively and swarming.
What to look for
The bustling wet market scene of Thailand is very typical and unique. You can be more than just a spectator - find your own fresh fruit, dust off your bargaining skill and have it as your glorious snack. Main commodities here are fresh vegetables, raw meat, seafood and unique things such as fried bugs.
Opening hours: 6am - 2am
Location: Rama IV Road, Khlong Toei
How to get there: Take the MRT subway to Klong Toey Station. Take the escalators up, and then walk east on Thang Rakfaiko/Rama IV Road until you reach the intersection of Rama IV and Narong Road. The market is on your right-hand side. The market is also reachable by bus, lines 45, 46, 72, 102, or 107.
Maeklong Train Station Market
Maeklong Train Station Market is one particular place you can hardly forget, partly because it is daring. The market is a single-track market that is divided by a narrow path, wide enough for a train to pass inbetween. Don't worry, it is a slow train, and the machinist tends to wait with proceeding until the path is cleared.
Minutes before the train's arrival, it will blow the horn, a sound you can't ignore, and in split seconds the sellers will pull their carts and awnings to clear the railway, this is why the market is called talat rom hoop or market umbrella close. After the train passes, vendors nonchalantly pull up their awnings and the business proceeds, as if the train had never passed.
What to look for
The train passes four times a day from Ban Laem Station to the Maeklong Station at 7:30, 10:10, 13:30 and 16:40 and another four times back to Ban Laem. It is important to arrive at least 30 minutes before the train's arrival, so you won't miss the moment.
Opening hours: 6am - 5pm, daily.
Location: Muang Samut Songkhram, Samut Songkhram
How to get there: Take a train from Wongwian Yai Station and stop at Mahachai Station, cross the river to Tha Chalom Pier and take another train at Ban Laem Station and get off at Maeklong Railway Market.
Tips for visiting a local market
- Bargain! It's a market after all; if you don't bargain then you're not being culturally appropriate. But small gestures of support for the locals, along with a wide smile will always be appreciated.
- Don't buy items made from animal products such as ivory or crocodile skin.
- Keep your belongings safe! Markets are always busy, and it's possible that at one time or another you may need to struggle just to walk five steps. In that kind of condition, always remind yourself to keep your belongings safe, to prevent being pick-pocketed.
- Choose a clean street vendor if you want to try street food. Always be aware of its hygiene. Our guide will help you find clean and recommended street vendors.
- Go early! Most of the markets open very early and get packed around 10am. Have an earlier adventure and avoid the crowds.
- Beware of Scams! Always be aware of your surroundings. When buying souvenirs always check the products to avoid scams.
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Explore Local Markets with Asia Highlights
Asia Highlights welcomes the chance to help you create your own unforgettable dining experience.
We are experienced in our field and will gladly assist you in arranging your local market tour that best suits your requirements.
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