How to navigate through Bangkok’s biggest market and where to cuddle cute puppies.
Shopping malls in Bangkok are nice and all, but we think you can get a better feel of the city by visiting one of the famous markets. The Chatuchak Weekend Market has not only the fame, but also the size to compete with the world’s largest markets. Here you can find more than 15.000 stalls spread across 35 acres. “How big is 35 acres?”, you might ask. Well, it’s roughly the size of 26 ½ football fields. American Football, that is. Sorry, English people.
The sheer size may sound intimidating, but there is a system, which you can use to guide your way through the Chatuchak Market. This is one of the topics we will touch on in this post, but that is not all! We will also tell you about the things you can buy here, the park and night market you can visit and some useful tips and tricks. And no, we have not forgotten about the cute puppies you so desperately want to cuddle. This was not just a cheap ploy to get you to read our blog. Have a little faith in us.
How to navigate through Chatuchak Market
Don’t worry if you happen to get lost amidst the thousand of stalls on your first visit – it happens to the best of us. But there are different ways you can stay as on point as possible. As you can see on the map above, there is one main road that splits into smaller streets called Soi. These are all numbered which makes it easier for us. Besides that, the market is also divided into 27 different sections. You can get free maps like this one at any nearby information desk. This system is by all means not perfect, but after a while you’ll get the hang of it. Many people also use the clock tower in the middle of the market as a reference point.
If this simple map doesn’t help, then check out the one from Nancy Chandler. Theirs is more detailed and can give you a better idea of where you are and what is around you. At the beginning you might just want to wander around, so you can get a basic overview of the market. But later on, a map of some kind will help you tremendously.
Last, but not least, you can download the Chatuchak Guide app, which has a live map, a search function, a shopping planner and information about current promotions. This one definitely comes in handy and is available for both iOs and Android devices.
Short answer: Everything. Seriously, from a normal T-shirt to a freakin’ python, there is nothing you can’t find at the Chatuchak Weekend Market. For the sake of convenience we will post an overview of the different categories we just totally copied from Wikipedia. Yes, we are that brazen.
- Clothing and accessories (sections 2–6, 10–26)
- Handicrafts (sections 8–11)
- Ceramics (sections 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 25)
- Furniture and home decor (sections 1,3,4,7,8)
- Food and beverage (sections 2, 3, 4, 23, 24, 26, 27)
- Plants and gardening (sections 3, 4)
- Art and galleries (section 7)
- Pets and accessories (sections 8, 9, 11, 13)
- Books (sections 1, 27)
- Antiques and collectibles (sections 1, 26)
- Miscellaneous and used clothing (sections 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 22, 25, 26)
We hope you still have that map close at hand, so you know which section is where
Haggling Is The Name of the Game
You better bring your ‘A’ game and put on your po-po-po-po-pokerface, because these shrewd vendors have been doing this for many years. Your advantage is that you can just walk away, if you can’t agree on a price. Often times this clever technique helps to force the vendor to lower the price to a more acceptable level. A polite attitude and a genuine smile goes a long way as well. After all, you are in a country that is known to be the Land of a Thousand Smiles.
Not only should you negotiate like Harvey Specter*, but also have a close look at the products on offer. Sometimes they are either damaged or straight up fake. Especially if you consider a bigger purchase like an antiquity, a “Rolex” watch or a piece of furniture. If you are patient and thorough in your investigation and don’t believe everything the vendors are telling you, then you’ll be fine. If not… well, then at least you learned a valuable lesson.
Oh, and the promised kittens and puppies are in sections 13 and 15. You’re welcome. This part was once associated with the sale of illegal wildlife with nine species listed as “Threatened” and eight as “Near Threatened”. But most of this black market trade has been driven out, so you don’t have to feel guilty when you pet all the puppies!
*if you haven’t already, you should totally watch the show “Suits”.
Let’s escape the insanity and noise of the Weekend Market for a moment, shall we? Fortunately, the Chatuchak Park is close by and it’s the perfect place to calm down and gather your strength again. The whole park is a place of pure nature. There are numerous paths that lead you through all of Chatuchaks splendor in the form of large trees and exotic plants.
The small lake in the middle of the park is a small gem as well and we would recommend renting a pedal boat to spend some quiet moments. Speaking of recommendations – visit the butterfly garden, if you seek solitude and tranquility. It’s a beautiful little spot and if you are already in the park area, you might as well stop by.
JJ Green Night Market
But maybe this is all boring to you. Maybe you live for the inexhaustible energy of markets. In this case, let’s talk about JJ Green. When the Chatuchak Weekend Market closes at 6pm, then that’s the time for the night market to continue the shopping madness. This one is known to have some unique items that you won’t find in any shopping malls. If you are looking for vintage clothing, jewellery and other collectables, then you will be happy at JJ Green. Some of the latest fashion can be found here as well, so you get the best of both worlds.
But surely you need to re-energize yourself with food at some point, right? JJ Green has restaurants that offer a great mix of Thai and Western food. Or do you think eating is for wimps and all you need is a good ol’ alcoholic beverage? That’s the Slumber spirit! In that case, sit down in one of the bars, relax and listen to some live music.
Whatever you end up doing, there are plenty of options to spend your day and evening in the Chatuchak district.
Tips, Tricks and General Information
- Chatuchak Park (Daily): 4:30am – 9:30pm
- Flower Market (Wednesday and Thursday): 7am – 6pm
- Chatuchak Weekend Market (Saturday and Sunday): 9am – 6pm
- JJ Green Market (Wednesday to Sunday): 6pm – 1:30am
How to get there:
- Skytrain (BTS): To Mo Chit station, then take exit no.1.
- Subway (MRT): To Chatuchak Park station, then take exit no. 1.
Tips & Tricks
- Bangkok is hot and humid, so make sure to wear light and comfortable clothing.
- Your shoes should be comfortable as well. You will walk around a lot and you don’t want to get any blisters from wearing flip flops all day long. Also, the Chatuchak Market welcomes over 200.000 visitors each weekend, so chances are high that someone will step on your toes.
- Water, water, water and coconuts – in short, stay hydrated. We would prefer the adage “Shop ‘till you drop” to be a figure of a speech and nothing to be taken literally.
- Bring enough cash and preferably in small bills, i.e. 100 Baht bills. Vendors rarely take credit card and ATMs can only be found sporadically.
- Try to go early in the morning (~9:30am). That way you can avoid the huge crowds and it won’t be so hot as well.
- Always keep your belongings close to you, because not everyone is an upstanding citizen.
- And don’t forget to wear sunscreen and/or a hat, my child!
I may sound like your mother here, but I only want the best for you. I hope you read this guide carefully, because it tells you everything you need to know. Everyone knows that mothers are always right.