Even for the most experienced traveller, Bangkok offers new adventures. With its tasty restaurants, relaxing massage shops and electric night-life, it’s a buzzing, exciting environment where it feels as though anything could happen.
Hidden among the massive skyscrapers and the ancient temples, you’ll find Bangkok’s vibrant markets. There’s nothing like wandering through hundreds, if not thousands of stalls to get into the action and meet the locals face-to-face. So, get your wits about you and fine-tune your bargaining skills! There’s every chance you’ll snap up some unusual and amazing bargains.
The sheer size of Bangkok can be overwhelming, so when it comes to choosing which markets to visit, it helps to have some advice. Here are three of the best.
It’s highly likely that you’ve never had a retail experience quite like Chatuchak Market. Catch the Bangkok Sky Train (BST) and jump out at Mo Chit, where you’ll find yourself at one of the most exciting markets in the world. With more than 15,000 stalls and covering 27 acres, it’s Bangkok’s biggest, selling absolutely everything, from traditional hill tribe garments to live animals. As you work your way closer to the centre, you’ll notice that the goods become less touristy and more authentically Thai. Take care of your items as the lanes are very narrow and there are people everywhere. Carry valuables, like your passport and your wallet, under you clothes, and avoid wearing expensive-looking jewellery.
Chatuchak Market is situated in Thanon Phahonyothin,‘Thanon’ means road in Thai, and is only open on weekends, from 9am to 6pm. There’s plenty of tasty food available, but don’t forget to take some bottled water with you, as it can get rather hot as noon approaches.
Pak Khlong Market
Sometimes the heavy Bangkok traffic can be a bit too much. Here’s a tip for when you’re feeling that way: jump on a ferry and go for a chug down the Chao Phraya River. Get off at Memorial Bridge and head to Pak Khlong market. The first thing you’ll notice are the flowers, it seems as though there are roses of every colour and orchids of every species. Pak Khlong is Bangkok’s largest flower market, for both retail and wholesale purposes. It’s open 24 hours a day, but the best time to visit is the late evening, when the weather has cooled and the crowds are less hectic.
Tha Phrachan Amulet Market
One of the most exciting aspects of shopping in Bangkok is stumbling on unusual items and finding interesting gifts to take home. A venture to the Amulet Market, best reached by catching a ferry to Tha Chang, will offer just that, in the form of an array of beautiful charms and amulets. You’ll notice that the locals spend a lot of time seeking out the “luckiest items”, so be sure to take your sixth sense with you.
Tha Phrachan Amulet Market is open every day from 7am to 5pm. As it’s very much for the locals, you’ll find that not much English is spoken. Don’t let that be a barrier though, just point out the items you want and let your money do the talking.
Where to stay
After spending hours amongst the bustle and haggle, you’ll feel like relaxing. Consider a stay at serviced apartments in Bangkok and that way you’ll have a tranquil spot to retreat to. The crowds, relentless activity and colour are definitely what give the city its magic, but the constant stimulation can become overwhelming after a while. It’s recommended that you reserve accommodation before leaving home, the adventure of jumping off the plane without any plans might seem appealing but it loses its novelty pretty quickly when you’re trying to negotiate one tout after another.