When you are in Bangkok, shopping cannot be far from your mind, given the wonderful opportunities for discount shopping. If bagging high-quality items at reasonable prices is what you seek, head to Chatuchak Market Bangkok. Gaining iconic status as one of the largest open-air markets in the world, this shopper's paradise has thousands of stalls. You can shop all your heart desires from fashion to food, cosmetics to jewelry, art to antiques. Locally known as 'Jatujak' or JJ Market, Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok is the largest weekend market worldwide.
It is a world unto its own, enticing all your senses with vivid colors of trendy clothes, mouthwatering aroma of seafood in food kiosks, techno music, and chirping of animals. Whether you want to add the latest fashion pieces to your wardrobe or find cherishable gifts for loved ones, Chatuchak Market in Bangkok needs to be a must-visit place in your itinerary. Jewelry, antiques, intricately hand-carved souvenirs, handmade decorative items, and more are on display. Prices are usually affordable. However, some bargaining, especially when buying in bulk, can lower the costs, leaving you with real steals. Come early and plan to spend an entire day here. There's plenty to see and buy!
Sprawling over 14 hectares (35 acres), Chatuchak Market Bangkok has about 27 sections. The sheer dimension and variety of wares on sale can leave you baffled – where to find items that fascinate you the most? The Chatuchak Market Tour provides an English-speaking guide. It enables you to have a pleasurable shopping experience.
Running through decades, Chatuchak Market Bangkok was at first a place of commercial interest for wholesalers and traders. But now, it has become a significant landmark, a must-visit destination for every tourist in the Thai capital. The market's rise to fame has quite a remarkable backstory.
The third Prime Minister of Thailand, Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram, was a visionary who foresaw the immense potential of open markets. He wanted to set up flea markets in every town to help the locals trade their goods easily, improving Thailand's economy.
The first such market was to be opened in Sanam Luang in 1942. But later, the Government changed the venue to Saranrom Palace, Bangkok's city center. The market was in operation at this place for eight years. But then it was shifted to Sanam Chai and then again to Sanam Luang. However, the authorities soon needed this site to celebrate the city's 200th anniversary. Thus, the market had to be relocated again.
Finally, in 1982, the market was set up as a permanent establishment in Chatuchak. King Bhumibol Adulyadej's 60th birthday came up five years later, and the famous Clock Tower was built to commemorate the occasion. It was then that the market was renamed, Chatuchak Market.
-Ever since, the market's acceptance among locals and tourists alike has grown in leaps and bounds. Now, it houses 15,000 stalls and is thronged by around 200,000 visitors every weekend. Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok has now garnered fame as the world's largest weekend market.
It is impossible to imagine how varied the goods on sale are at Chatuchak Market Bangkok are until you encounter the maze of stalls. You can find it all, from vintage clothing to obscure antiques, from stunning artworks to out-of-the-way home décor. Here's a guide:
Clothing is the principal merchandise in Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok. The clothing section dominates Section 8 and spills over into sections 2 through 6, and continues through 10 – 26 sections, mainly the even-numbered ones. Different sections cater to distinct clothing types, from hip-hop and skate fashions to renowned and chic labels. Sections 8 and 10 are more frequented by tourists. For accessories, visit Sections 24 and 26. You can find many popular shops here selling chunky silver jewelry or wearables made from semi precious uncut stones.
If you wish to buy handicrafts from the artisans directly, Chatuchak Market Bangkok is your place. Sections 9, 10, 11, and 27 are replete with collectibles such as intricately handcrafted wooden pieces, traditional Thai ornaments, and vibrant glasswork.
The unique five-colored porcelain ware, Benjarong porcelain, can elevate your dining experience. Thai ceramics such as celadon and the traditional rooster-themed Lampang bowls are also available. If collecting exclusive ceramic items rank on your shopping list, scour sections 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, and 25.
Sections 8 and 26 mainly offer home essentials and decorative items. From inexpensive plastic goods to gorgeous brass items, many varieties are available around Section 26. Sections 1,3,4 and 7 also stock some beauties.
Famished after a satisfying hunt through the market? You can visit Sections 19, 23, 24, 26, and 27 to refuel yourself with the famous Thai street food. Food stalls between Sections 6 and 8 also strive to ward off your hunger. Sections 2, 3, and 4 are also worth exploring. Pad Thai, Mango rice, coconut ice cream, fruit shakes, and a wide selection of desserts such as chocolate-dipped bananas, and rotis with a mind-boggling array of toppings are must-try items. You can also tuck in tasty chicken biryani or delve into platters of paella. As the day draws close, refresh your energy with a beer at the café bar, or opt for the more natural coconut water.
Sections 3 and 4 and parts of Section 2 are primarily dedicated to plants. The plant sections also remain open on Wednesdays and Thursdays. So, if you wish to pick some unusual potted flowering plants, fruit saplings, or herbs, you will not be disappointed. You will even find the accessories you need to care for them.
Music-related art items, such as whistles, flutes, drums, and objects used by hill tribes, like bags, can be located in Sections 2 and 26. Kohn masks make excellent souvenirs. Section 7 resembles an open-air art gallery with booths by local artists. You can pick up Bangkok-themed murals and Burmese lacquerware.
Even if you are not looking for a fur buddy to take home, you will have fun cuddling the kittens in Sections 13 and 1. Some shops solely cater to clothing for pets. Sections 8, 9, and 11 also deal in pets or pet-related articles.
You can unearth some rare books in Section 26 or get pre-owned books in a multitude of languages from around the world. You can score some Western or Asian classics at a fraction of the original price. Antique Thai stamp collections and vintage postcards are also worth adding to your collection.
Ancient Buddhist Art features as the most notable collectible in Thailand. Head to Section 1 for religious statues made of bronze or antiques depicting religious motifs. Section 26 is another hotspot antique for lamps, vintage silverware, or retro photo cameras. However, do exercise caution when purchasing antiques here. Take the help of an expert or refer to your guide for genuine items.
Elephant dolls feature as staples on every Chatuchak visitor's shopping list. Keychains, fruit or flower-shaped soaps, and more such souvenirs are sold in plenty. Many shops also sell used clothing and factory rejects. You can find hidden gems here at a budget price, especially in sections 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 22, 25, 26. But make sure you check for loose threads, stains, and other defects before paying.
Location: Chatuchak Park, Kamphaeng Phet 2 Rd, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900
Timings: Wednesday and Thursday: 7 am – 6pm (Plant section only) Friday 6 pm-12pm (Wholesale only) Saturday and Sunday 9 am - 6 pm (Entire Market)
Best Time To Visit: Plan your visit in the mornings. If you arrive at around 10 am, you can avoid much of the crowd and take advantage of a pleasant temperature.
How To Reach:
By Skytrain Skytrain plies throughout Bangkok. Find a station at a location convenient to you, alight at (N8) Mo Chit Station (Sukhumvit Line), and head to exit number 1. Follow the crowd to reach the market's clothing section.
By Taxi Licensed Bangkok taxis offer fair prices by the meter, capped at a uniform rate applicable for all taxis. However, if the distance is too short or excessively long, the taxi driver might refuse to go by the meter. You will need to pay a flat rate. But do not hesitate to bargain.
By MRT The MRT (Metropolitan Rapid Transit) is an underground railway service running through central Bangkok from morning to midnight. You need to access the central line and get down at Chatuchak Park Station.
By Tuk Tuk A Tuk Tuk ride is an authentic Thai experience. This three-wheeler motor-operated vehicle can sit two to three people on the bench at the back, and the driver sits in front. However, Tuk Tuks do not operate on meters, and you may need to negotiate well.
By Bus A bus journey is a cost-effective way to travel to the market. You can consult your hotel's concierge to find out the best bus numbers and timings. However, congested traffic can lead to long travel times.
Chatuchak Market Bangkok is the world's largest open-air weekend market, selling diverse merchandise from all over Thailand. You can find it all: handicraft items, charming antiques, quaint household décor, consumer electronics, a-la-mode clothes, fashion jewelry, cosmetics, plants, and pets. The quality of the items is good, and you can find fantastic deals. Moreover, the food stalls offer a range of local food to delight your taste buds.
Chatuchak Market started operating in the 1940s.
Prices are usually reasonable in the market. However, you can negotiate with the vendors to get better deals, especially if you are buying many items in bulk. But do check for signs that mention "No Bargaining." The trick is to walk away with a smile when you fail to get an item at your quote price. If your attitude is friendly, the seller might offer you a lower price. Also, a professional guide can help you get to the stores where you can score high-quality items at fair and affordable prices.
Different sections of the market operate on different days of the week, but on Saturdays and Sundays, the entire market remains open from morning until evening. However, if you visit in the mornings, you can avoid the rush and scan for the best items. The temperature also remains cooler around this time. The crowd starts to increase around midday, and temperatures also soar.
With over 15,000 stalls, there are too many items to see and too many experiences to savor. It takes 3 to 5 hours to scour the grounds. You should dedicate at least half a day to exploring the market.