Outdoor Markets in Bangkok
No trip to the Land of Smiles is complete without a visit to Bangkok’s bustling outdoor markets. Ranging from simple pop-up stalls to mega shopping meccas, these markets sell everything from street food and antiques to amulets and textiles. Whether you’re merely browsing or on a serious shopping spree, this Thai tradition is not to be missed.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
Satisfy your every shopping whim with a trip to Chatuchak Weekend Market. Spanning 14 hectares with more than 8,000 stalls, Chatuchak (or “JJ” market) is the biggest in Thailand. Grab a free map to navigate the labyrinthine aisles and the vast selection of sundry wares, from traditional Thai silk and formal suits to spicy papaya salad (som tam) and even live pythons. The prices are usually not fixed, so enter prepared to bargain with vendors.
You’ll know you’ve arrived at Rod Fai when you see a classic Cadillac parked next to a life-size Elvis mannequin and hear rockabilly music bumping from a nearby Volkswagen van. Perhaps the most unique of the Thai markets, Rod Fai sells authentic antiques, vintage collectibles and niche memorabilia from yesteryear. It’s open from 5 p.m. to midnight Thursday through Sunday, but plan to arrive around sundown, when the market really starts to buzz with patrons.
For a glimpse into Thailand’s spiritual side, visit this century-old market along the Chao Phraya River, which sells amulets of Buddha, bodhisattvas, Hindu deities and famous monks. Join in on the countrywide custom of collecting these sacred charms (known as kreuang rang), which many Thais believe hold magical power and bring the wearer luck and protection.
After a few hours of wandering Bangkok’s streets in the humid heat, Saphan Khao can feel like a much-needed oasis. At this expansive, colorful market, you can see and sample exotic and unfamiliar fruits by the banana leaf or the basketful. Try some local favorites such as jackfruit, durian and rambutan — each a refreshing treat amid the city’s swelter.
Amphawa Floating Market
Venture just outside of Bangkok to experience a more authentic floating market, where the shoppers are almost exclusively Thai. Vendors cook their dishes on wooden boats piled high with local seafood and produce, and hand them up to diners on the docks of the canal. After dinner, take an evening boat trip to watch fireflies light lamphu trees aglow along the Mae Klong River bank.