I hate shopping. Bring me to a mall to buy something and I’d pick the first item I see and head out immediately.
Bangkok, however, has a lot of these wonderful shopping malls and markets that I can roam around in–not for shopping per se but for its interesting features.
There’s the beautiful toilets in Terminal 21, for example, the sheer number of things for sale in the MBK, and of course, you can literally get lost in Chatuchak, the world’s largest weekend market.
There are thousands of small shops that sell clothing, home goods, toys, pet products, souvenirs and postcards to send back to family.
The first time I went to Chatuchak, I just went round and round the same area. I couldn’t seem to find my way out and it’s no wonder–this market has over 8,000 stalls, and on a normal weekend, there would be thousands (some say up to 200,000) of people walking around here!
The prices of items in Chatuchak are much cheaper than what you would get in a mall. Unlike in Vietnam’s markets, the vendors here are not aggressive and often give you a deal if you negotiate for it.
The shoppers are delightfully diverse, too, and you’ll hear several European languages, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, as well as Thai at any given moment.
Even if you’re not planning to buy anything, Chatuchak is a great place to kill a few hours just wandering, browsing the shops and seeing how well you remember your favorite foreign language.
Though a bit pricier than most street food in Bangkok, the selection of food options here is also mind-blowing. You’re not limited to the foreigner favorites of Pad Thai and Pad See Eew.
If you miss food from home, wherever you’re from, you can find some comfort food. Delicious ones that we’ve tried include kebabs, ice cream, fish and chips, barbecue, and of course, lots of rice dishes. There are also exotic food items if you’re so inclined to taste them.
Next to the market is a beautiful park with perfectly-manicured grass. The last time I was in Chatuchak, I was with my family. They love shopping, so I decided not to go inside the market anymore and just wait for them at the park.
It was a good thing I did; they shopped for over 5 hours!!! In all that time, I took a nap on the park grounds (using my shawl as a ground sheet), read, and ate. I only went to find them after sunset, when the mosquitoes started dining on my face.
Note: there’s nothing much in the park–just the playground, the grounds where you can lie down (rent a blanket, there are a lot of vendors going around there), a lake, and a toilet. The food stalls are right outside though, so you can also buy food and just eat it in the park.
So if you’re not so much into shopping like me and the people you’re with are, let them go shop their heart out in Chatuchak. Just bring a blanket and hang out at the park.
Tips in Going Around Chatuchak Market
Get a free map from one of the guardhouses; it will save you A LOT of time trying to find what you need. The whole area is divided into sections, which can be loosely categorized as follows:
- Section 1: Books, collectible items, food
- Section 2 to 4: Collectibles, home decorations, art work, terracotta
- Section 5 to 6 : Clothes, accessories, miscellaneous products
- Section 7 to 9: Antiques, furniture, ceramics, handicrafts
- Section 10 to 24: Clothes, accessories, consumer products, appliances, pet supplies
- Section 17 to 19: Ceramics, fresh and dry food
- Section 22 to 26: Antiques, furniture, handicrafts
- Section 27: Books, food and dessert shops, collectibles
Find the corresponding sections in the map, and you’re set to go!
Arrive as early as possible. Even at 7am, the stalls are already open. Once you arrive there by midday, it will be too hot and too crowded to enjoy. The last time I went there was the day of the election (February 2nd), and it was the only time I’ve been there that the market was not crowded.
Don’t forget to bargain. Even if the prices are relatively cheaper than the ones in the mall, you can still negotiate. Just remember–do it with a smile, and if you find something you like, buy it immediately! It would be a mistake to look around first, as chances are, you won’t be able to find the shop again.
Make use of door-to-door couriers. If you’re buying a lot, then it would make sense to just courier it to your home country straight after buying it from Chatuchak. There are many courier companies inside the market–just shop around for those with the best rates.
How to go to Chatuchak Market
Chatuchak is open all day on Saturday and Sunday and is easy to get to. Take the BTS (Sky Train) to Mo Chit Station and just walk to the market; it’s just a few meters away. If you prefer the MRT (subway), alight at the Chatuchak Market Station.
This post is a collaboration with fellow blogger Guy Traveling.