I remember when I was 4 years old, my mum took me to my first wet market (or at least it was the first one I remember) in Singapore. Back then, it was uncommon to see a white person at such a gathering (even in Singapore) and this little white girl with blond hair was the talk of the day :) Everyone was very curious and turned their heads to see what we were up to. I can’t remember every single moment but what I do know is that my fascination with markets started that day.
If you arrive in a different city and want to see the real life, markets are the best place to do so. Most of the times, you’ll be the only white person there, because a lot of “regular” travellers don’t dare to go there. That’s a big mistake…but that’s just my opinion.
Since we recently stayed in Thailand for two weeks and had a bit of bad luck with the weather on Koh Kood island, we had four days in Bangkok before returning home. I’ve heard from many people that Bangkok is not that special and there really isn’t that much to see. Well, what can I say?! I’ll have to prove them wrong ;) Here are 5 markets you shouldn’t miss:
Klong Toey Fresh Market.
Klong Toey Fresh Market is Bangkok’s biggest fresh market. This market almost seems like a little village within Bangkok. Why? Two reasons: First, it’s so huge that just by walking around in the distict Klong Toey, you’ll somehow end up at the market…there’s no need to walk through little side alleys to get there. And second because you simply find everything you need. Whether it’s food, stationary, kitchenware or cloths. Plus, the district Klong Toey is the biggest slum & sea port area in Bangkok, so there’s a crowd around all the time. It’s a big must for every market fan!
- Opening hours: Daily from 6.00 am – 2.00 am
- How to get there: Take the MRT subway to Klong Toey station, exit up the escalators and then walk east on Thang Rakfaiko / Rama IV Road for ten minutes until you reach the large intersection of Rama IV and Narong Road. The market will be on your right-hand side. Or, you can take bus numbers 45, 46, 72, 102, or 107 to the area.
- What to find there: Meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, herbs & spices, cloths – pretty much everything you need.
The Chatuchak Market (JJ) is one of the world’s largest weekend markets. It covers an area of almost 30 Acres, is divided into 28 different sections & contains more than 15.000 booths selling goods from all over Thailand. You can imagine my face when I stepped out of the BTS train and saw this huge market…jaw dropping. The Chatuchak Market is a very popular shopping destination for Thais but has also become very popular with tourists. Thais from all over the country come here to buy goods for their local shop. Each day, about 200.000 visitors come here (30 % tourists). You can pretty much find everything there, from books to antiques to live animals and plants.
Yes, Chatuchak Makret sounds like a true shopper’s delight. For me, it was much less than that; not only am I not a fan of huge gatherings, but also the entire area was simply too large. As soon as we stepped out of the BTS train, the crowds started showing up. The way from the BTS station to the entrance of the market was maybe only 100 meters, yet it took us almost 15 minutes to get there. Viewing the market from above (from the bridge from the BTS station to the market area) still made it all quite clear but as soon as we were down in the crowd, our orientation got lost. I suggest that you go with the flow, because otherwise you’re just going to struggle. They’ll lead you somewhere anyway.
- Chances of getting lost in the crowd are high. If you’re there with a friend, make sure you conclude a meeting point before.
- Wear comfy shoes; you’ll walk a lot.
- Drink, drink, drink…you’ll sweat like a pig so keep your water level high!
- Opening hours: Wednesday-Thursday (Plants & Flowers) 6.00 am – 6.00 pm. Friday (Wholesale day) 6.00 am – 6.00 pm. Saturday-Sunday (Miscellaneous) 6.00 am – 6.00 pm.
- How to get there: Skytrain (BTS) to Mo Chit station; take exit no. 1 and follow the crowd.
- What to find there: Ah well, you’ve 30 Acres of pretty much everything you need (or don’t need).
Bo Be Tower Clothing Market.
Bo Be market has been known as the center of garment wholesale for over 30 years. Today there are well over 1.300 shops under one roof making Bo Be the biggest garment wholesale center in Thailand. Furthermore, Bo Bae offers you shipping services to send your cargo worldwide. It is THE place for all types of clothing, for men, women and children; casual and formal. I liked this market because it was not so over run by people. And I actually bought something for a change ;) A shirt for my dad for about 40 bath…pretty darn cheap.
- Opening hours: Daily
- How to get there : Taxi or Bus no. 1, 4, 7, 25, 53
- What to get there: Cloths (including traditions Thai cloths), shoes, bags, etc.
Saphan Khao Fruit Market.
I have never seen so many fruits in one spot as on the Saphan Khao Fruit Market. Truly unbelieveable! Tons and tons of different fruits. You’ll get every exotic fruit there is right here. We were told that all of Bangkok comes here for fruits; whether it’s the local food vendor from next door or the chef of a five star restaurant. Saphan Khao is THE place to go to!
- Opening Hours: Daily from 6.00 am – 6.00 pm (as far as the taxi driver told me correctly)
- How to get there: Bus no. 2, 59, 60, 79, 511 or Taxi
- What to get there: All kind of fruits in huge quantities.
Pak Klong Talat Flower Market.
Pak Klong Talat is a large wholesale flower market. Merchants travel here from all over Thailand to sell their flowers and wandering the streets here is a colourful and fragrant experience. Out of all the markets, this one was the least “spectacular”; not because there was nothing to see but more because by the time we got there it was 3.00 pm and the “trading traffic” was over already. Next time I’ll be there at 2.00 am, cause that’s when the business starts at Pak Klong Talat.
- Opening hours: 2.00 am – 6.00 pm
- How to get there: The market is on Chakphet Road. You can either get there by Taxi zu erreichen or with the Express Boat (station Saphan Phut) and then by foot.
- What to get there: Flowers, flowers & more flowers.
If you’ve read the entire article (or just looked at the photos), you’ll realize that the markets in Bangkok are a big must. Not only for fans like me but everyone. If you have the time, stay one or two more days and check some of them out. You won’t be able to get to all of them anyway but one or the other would not only make a great story but you’d be able to see how life in Bangkok really is.