Strolling through the lively markets of Bangkok is one of the most stimulating and rewarding ways to taste Thai culture. With flower markets, floating markets, markets with copious knick-knacks, and food vendors giving new meaning to Asian cuisine, the city is a bit of an expert on the matter. Looking for an authentic Thai market? Here are some of our favorites in Bangkok.
Patpong Night Market
Patpong is one of the most famous evening markets in Bangkok and it fulfills much of the criteria for a classic Thai market. The narrow and crowded walkways are flanked with cheap goods, trinkets, tacky t-shirts, and off-brand designer clothing. This is a great spot if you’re looking for a budget souvenir or some cheap sunglasses.
Rot Fai Market
The Rot Fai Market, known as the ‘Train Market’ in English, is a trendy hub just outside the city with tons of vintage finds and unusual gems. Due to its location near the Thailand Cultural Center, it pulls a crowd of trendy Thai hipsters. There are few tourists, but the ones that do make the trek are rarely disappointed. Rot Fai is known for iconic aerial views of its rainbow-colored tents, which you can appreciate with a beer from one of the second-story watering holes. The concentrated food market offers everything from classic pad thai to Japanese desserts and nachos. The general shopping here is a bit nicer than the average Thai market, and the prices are higher as well.
Formally known as the Jatuchak Market, the JJ Green is a relatively quiet vintage market that specializes in all things random. In need of a rusty license plate? What about a funky old wristwatch or an obscure painting? JJ Green is set up as one part flea market with open-air vendors, and one part more formal stand-alone businesses. For other great ideas on how to spend a few days in the city, discover how to spend 48 hours in Bangkok.
Asiatique the Riverfront
Perched on the banks of the Chao Phraya river, the Asiatique is the cleanest, most family-friendly upscale market on this list. While it loses out on the authenticity factor compared to others, it’s truly hard to pass up Asiatique. You can access the market by boat, and inside it boasts a huge 200-foot Ferris wheel as well as over 1,400 stalls and 40 restaurants. Asiatique is more than just food, however, as nightly entertainment comes in the form of plays, street performers, and concerts. Asiatique is a night market that opens at 5:00 pm.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
Chatuchak is likely the best-known market in not only Bangkok but in all of Thailand. It opens on Friday evenings and welcomes guests through to Sunday night. Estimates for the number of stalls run in the 4,000 range, so it’s simply impossible to see the entire market in one go. In order to avoid the crowds, consider visiting early in the morning or once the sun starts setting. The best part of Chatuchak is the variety. If you know what you’re looking for, the likelihood is, they have it. Chatuchak is a great cheap activity in Bangkok, and for other wallet-friendly ideas in the country, research how to do Thailand on a budget.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
Ok, so Damnoen isn’t actually in Bangkok, it’s 60 miles west, but it should absolutely be on your list of go-to markets. Visiting this floating market is truly a magical experience. Damnoen is a collection of narrow corridors where vendors idle by with all kinds of goods and produce perched on their canoes. Some industrious vendors have entire coal-fired grilling operations in one hand and row with the other. This isn’t a stand-and-watch situation, because you can hire your own guide and peruse the canals as you please. Getting there can be done by public bus, but we recommend 12GoAsia where you can buy tickets in private vans in advance. Also, if you’re enjoying the countryside out near Damnoen, you’ll probably appreciate Thailand’s best national parks.
Pak Khlong Talat (Flower Market)
Growing weary of the pad Thai and pirated DVDs? Freshen things up with Bangkok’s best flower market. The Pak Khlong is a fully dedicated flower market. There are tons of aisles of colorful flowers, and the clientele range from wholesale buyers, to individuals looking for small bouquets, to those just appreciating the sights and smells. The Pak Khlong is a great budget-friendly activity for travelers looking for a break from the hustle and bustle of downtown Bangkok. Visit in the early morning when the deliveries arrive to soak it all in.
If you’re looking to get some bulk shopping done, Bobae market is your option for wholesale goods with incredible prices. There are two specific areas — Bobae Market and Bobae Tower — and both are famous for having vast amounts of wholesale clothing. Brand name t-shirts retail at around 50 baht (or $1.25), and they also have football and basketball jerseys that can be found for less than 10% of what they’re sold for in the west. Even though about 70% of the market is made up of clothing, you can find other gems like fruit and vegetables, a huge selection of Muslim (or Halal) food, and souvenirs. Bobae market is located near old town.