For anyone planning to visit Bangkok for the first time, checking out the city’s famous markets is a must, however choosing which ones to visit can be a hard decision. Here is a rundown of four of the city’s markets which are a must see for a first time visitor!
Floating Bangkok Market
The floating markets of Damnoen Saduak sit roughly two hours outside of the centre of Bangkok and hundreds of visitors flock here every day to discover the unique experience of a market accessed completely by water by taking a ride on the vendor boats. Although most of the stalls are geared up for tourists, selling typical Thai memorabilia and souvenirs, at some of the smaller stalls you will find women from the local village wearing traditional bamboo selling deliciously fresh Thai produce such as sticky rice, bananas and coconuts. You can either float around the market with a guide or hire a boat and travel round by yourself, which will cost from 150B (about £3.50!) per person per hour (with a bit of haggling!).
Short on time? You can pay extra to have a motorised long tail boat, which will allow you to see the floating Bangkok market in about half the time. If you do opt for the early start with a guide, ask them to show you how to offer food to the monks yourself and receive a blessing of your own!
Top tip: Try and get to the market by 7am when the stalls start to open. This way you can avoid the crowds and may also get the chance to see Buddhist monks visiting the stall owners, where they will offer food in exchange for a blessing.
Weekend Bangkok Market
If you’re looking for some serious shopping, then the Chatuchak Weekend Market is the ideal choice, and it is super easy to find located right next to the Mo Chit Skytrain station. Bangkok’s biggest market takes place every Saturday and Sunday from 9am to 6pm and houses over 15,000 stalls with 27 different sections selling everything from flowers and food and drink to clothes and antiques.
Handy tip: The Weekend Bangkok Market is somewhere you can pick up some serious bargains as many of the stalls will often sell identical stock. To get the best price, approach vendors with a big smile and don’t be afraid to walk away if you don’t get the deal you were looking for as often they will call you back and offer you a lower price.
How to get around: I am going to be honest, the market is huge it isn’t too difficult to get lost, however there are systems in place that should help you find your way around. If you do lose your way, aim for the clock tower, which is often used as a central meeting point for visitors and make sure you pick up a map, which details all of the 27 sections and shows you what you can expect to find in each. If you can it is also a good idea to try and visit the market first thing in the morning or late afternoon as it often attracts over 200,000 visitors per day.
If you are looking for somewhere to spend the evening, the night bazaar in the modern Asiatique is the perfect place. A slightly more up market option, this Bangkok market is home to over 1,500 stalls selling anything and everything you can think of. As well as the stalls selling typical bric a brac and souvenirs, there is a selection of small and medium size boutiques in the mall area, offering more upscale goods including clothes and electrics.
Asiateque also hosts a number of restaurants and bars in a great spot overlooking the Chao Praya River. Being served up is a range of different cuisines, including authentic Thai (albeit a slightly milder western friendly version!), Italian and Turkish. After dinner, there is also lots of entertainment to choose from including performances in the famous Calypso Bangkok Theatre, and a fun filled Ferris wheel.
Getting there: Getting to Asiateque is easy as they offer a free shuttle running from Saphan Taskin pier. The shuttles run regularly until 11.30pm, so you can enjoy the buzz of the complex until late.
Another Bangkok market you could visit outside of the centre is the famous Maeklong Train market, otherwise known as the “Risky Market.” This is because at eight times throughout the day the market descends into chaos as stall holders manically pack away their stock to make room for the very large train that passes straight through the centre. If ever there was a place to experience authentic Bangkok with all its fast paced craziness it’s here!
Seeing how quickly the stalls are packed up to reveal train tracks you didn’t even notice you were standing on and then watching the train fly through is an incredible sight and you will be amazed how quickly the stalls are back up and running afterwards to continue trading.
Another great thing about this place is that unlike the floating Bangkok market, which is now predominantly a tourist attraction, the Risky market is also frequented by many Bangkok locals, who come to shop for their fresh produce. This means you can get your hands on some authentic Thai delicacies, from dried herbs to exotic fruit and vegetables, there is loads of things to try. But a word of warning, there are quite a few stalls selling fresh seafood which is gutted and prepared right in front of you, so if you are a little bit on the squeamish side – this one might not be for you!
Have you ever visited any of these Bangkok markets? Which one was your favourite?