A Guide to Bangkok's Chatuchak Market
Anyone who knows me knows this to be true: I hate shopping. Well, there are obviously exceptions to this statement; I can often be seen happily perusing a beauty haul (be it Boots, or Selfridges) for literally hours, without ever getting tired. Put me in a shopping mall, though, and I will get cross.
However, it is so much a part of Asian culture that I happily embrace it like the culturally sensitive traveler that I am. It's no secret that I have long had a love affair with Bangkok, and no visit is ever complete without a sweaty, exhilarating trip to the weekend market known as Chatuchak.
How To Get There
Chatuchak weekend market is located handily right next to the Mo Chit BTS (sky train) and Chatuchak Park MRT (metro) stations, so if you're staying near a BTS/MRT line you can just get yourself there, nay bother. Use exit 1, or 3.
If not, there is the good old bus. We always get the bus, as we tend to stay in and around Banghlampu, which isn't served by any jazzy metro or Skytrain. Bus numbers 524 and 3 run between Khao San Rd (Thanon/Th. Khao San) & Mo Chit station. It typically takes us about 45 mins and cost pennies (honestly, it's about 10 baht). The buses are air-con and comfortable, so the only downside is the time it takes I guess.
You could obviously also take a tuk-tuk or taxi to Chatuchak directly but be warned, always ask the taxi driver to use the meter before you step in to avoid being overcharged. Sometimes they'll just drive off when you ask that, but persevere as someone will agree to it. Tuk-Tuk's are never my vehicle of choice, but each to their own and just take care to haggle to get a fair price.
I make it a priority to visit Chatuchak every time I am in Bangkok, and leave each trip with a little more knowledge and a lot less cash. It's one of those amazing hidden gems that the majority of tourists are happy to skip in favour of other things, perhaps thinking that it is merely a tourist trap chock full of I heart Thailand tee's and fake Mulberry. Nay! It is so much more than that, and as it's only open at the weekend, I urge you to give it a go.
Navigating The Maze
Chatuchak is huge. I mean, seriously big. I know, that's what she said ;)
Seriously though, it is one of the biggest markets in the world (with 15,000 + stalls) and even has it's own little system of Soi to keep things orderly, in the manner of Ikea, albeit a lot more fun.
When you first walk into the main street, grab a map so you can see just how large and sprawling the market is. The easiest, and most fun, thing to do is just to jump in. Take a left or right whenever you fancy and get lost in the maze.
One of my favourite 'routes in' is to walk down the main street until I see the Thai guy in camo cracking fresh coconuts open with a machete. I grab a coconut (ultimate hydration saviour) and take a left into the market. There you'll find second-hand clothes galore. I once bought a gorgeous vintage blue tea dress for 100 baht (about £2).
Another great area is by the toilets. Honestly, hear me out. When you find the toilets and relive yourself safe in the knowledge you can shop till you drop once more, look around, for you are in hipster art heaven.
Let us not forget the food. Oh, the food. I love nothing more than grazing away at the treats on offer. We also always make time for a little beer break too.
Tired feet? No problem, just find your way to the Thai Massage spot and relax in the fan cooled chairs while your aches are pummelled away.
Convinced? Of course you are. Just don't forget the following top tips......
Opening hours are 6 am to 6 pm, so either get there early or go after 2 pm as it is insanely hot in-between.
There are a few cash machines about, but I would encourage you to bring enough cash for the day, so you don't have the stress of navigating to an ATM in the heat.
Come with an empty stomach! There is so much amazing food, from little coffee bars to grilled meat, paella, spicy laab, coconut ice cream as well as a few cool bars.
If you see something you like, just buy it. Unless you have been a few times, you probably won't find your way back to the stall again so will go home kicking yourself for missing out on that awesome tea dress.
Have you been to Chatuchak? Have I missed anything out?
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