If you’ve ever traveled there or heard anything about the city, you know that Bangkok is a city unlike any other. The streets are filled with wild, wonderful pandemonium at any time of day or night. The city’s flourishing tourism industry is buoyed by its offerings of great food, affordable shopping, majestic temples, and endless entertainment. Bangkok is also a favorite locale for expatriates, with a manageable cost of living, accessible public transport, and the guarantee of a boredom-free lifestyle. Among its assets are the city’s many outdoor markets featuring wide varieties of food and goods at unbeatable prices. The market that dwarfs every other, offering a little bit of everything in one (very large) spot, is the Chatuchak Weekend Market. Located in the Chatuchak District of downtown Bangkok, the bustling bazaar attracts around 200,000 tourists and locals every weekend.
With more than 15,000 booths to explore, the Chatuchak market is divided into 27 sections. Visitors can purchase anything from clothing and housewares to pets and houseplants. Antiques, art, furniture, lighting, jewelry, and endless other goods are on display throughout the market. As with most vendors in Bangkok, prices are negotiable, so shoppers should not hesitate to test their haggling skills. Just remember that in the Land of Smiles, courtesy is always the best bargaining tool.
After working up a hearty appetite while shopping, there is no better place to satisfy your hunger than the food stalls of Chatuchak. Multiple sections of the market offer a variety of food and beverages. You might let your nose guide you, as the food smells throughout the market are intense and unforgettable. The tastes are even more memorable. Traditional Thai dishes of noodles, rice, curry, and seafood will fill you up and set your tongue on fire. Fresh fruits like mango, jackfruit, and papaya offer a juicy refuge from the sweltering heat. It is likely you’ll come across a selection of infamous durians, the spiky fruit so rancid it is banned in some public buildings. Many say the taste of the smelly fruit is heavenly, so consider holding your nose and taking the plunge (or just take their word for it). Once you’ve had your fill of the market’s delicacies, wash it all down with a cold Singha, Thailand’s most beloved lager.
A visit to the market is not complete without a stroll through the pet section. Animal lovers should come equipped with some serious self-restraint, as they might be tempted to add a few furry friends to their lot. The pet selection extends well beyond the traditional four-legged Fidos and prattling parakeets. Stalls are filled with exotic animals, and visitors find themselves face-to-face with meerkats, iguanas, monkeys, and more.
Whether you visit Chatuchak market to eat, shop, or meander, there are a few things to know before you go. If you hope to escape the unrelenting Bangkok heat, it is best to arrive at the market as early as possible and with a bottle of water in tow. Pick up a map when you get there, even (or especially) if you plan to wander aimlessly. The market spans 35 acres, and one can become so entangled in its wonders that finding an exit becomes nearly impossible. We recommend to arrive with an open mind, an empty stomach, ready to bargain, and prepared for a sensory overload unlike you have experienced elsewhere.