Chatuchak Weekend Market is perhaps the most famous Bangkok street market. Its actually more than a street market because there is a section of the area that is covered, has permanent shops inside a cluster that resembles a municipal market. The range and quality of the goods on sale here is perhaps the best in Bangkok when it comes to street markets. Wikipedia lists nine kind of merchandise that is sold here: plants, antiques, pets, food & drinks, fresh & dry food, ceramics, furniture & home decor, clothes, and books. And all these are sold across 8000 shops divided into 27 sections. The market opens on Friday (6.00pm to midnight), and Saturday & Sunday (9.00 am to 6.00pm). I went there on a hot Saturday morning and decided that perhaps the best time to visit the place would be on a Friday evening. During the day, it is just too hot here unless you are going there during the months of December-January. Another beautiful attraction, Chatuchak Park is adjacent to the market area and if you are interested in the park, the best time to go will be early in the day or in the afternoon.
Public transport is available for going to Chatuchak Weekend Market from almost anywhere in Bangkok. Apart from buses, BTS Skytrain and the underground MRT trains both connect directly to the market. For tourists, both skytrain and MRT are good. If you are going by skytrain, you need to get to the Mochit BTS Station. Once there, get down from Exit 1 and follow the crowd. As you get down from Exit 1, you need to walk straight and then turn right after a while. If you are going by MRT, go to Chatuchak Park MRT Station and look at the exit signs pointing to Chatuchak Weekend Market or ask the staff at the ticket counter to know the correct exit.
Its huge, has open air as well as covered areas and is confusing like hell. Unless you are carrying a guide map of the market (I don’t know where to get that), the market is difficult to navigate in an efficient way. I ended up going to the same row of shops twice and after a while it felt like I was moving in circles unable to find anything new. Basically I got lost there. It was very hot and I was cursing my timing.
Anyway, the stuff on sale is half Chinese and half Thai. Bargaining is allowed and expected everywhere. The quality of the goods on sale is generally better than what one would find elsewhere in other street markets. The reason for the better quality is that this is a market built for Farangs because they all come here. Its like an essential stop for a tourist in Bangkok. Prices are a bit higher too and one will need very good bargaining skills to get a fair deal. The basic rule of bargaining anywhere in Thailand is to smile and try to chat-up the vendor. Act friendly and the price will come down voluntarily. Act tough and you will leave empty-handed.
Food & More…
Several food stalls serve the purpose of keeping the tourists’ tummies full while they roam the market. I found this stall close to the exit selling vegetarian spring rolls at 30 THB. There are a few massage shops too in the market in case your feet get tired.
The Adjoining Park
The official entry to Chatuchak Park is from the other side of the road, from Exit 3 of Mochit BTS Station. But on the market side of the road also I was able to enter a beautiful and huge park that perhaps is a part of the main Park. Its just beautiful and must not be missed when going to the weekend market. If you are going on a Friday, go a little early so that you can spend time in the park before heading to the weekend market.
This trip is worth a tourists’ time and can also be used to get familiar with the public bus service that takes one from Mochit BTS Station to Don Mueang (DMK) Airport. If you take exit 3 from the BTS Station, you will come to side of the road from where you can get a bus (A1) or a taxi to DMK. The bus costs 30 THB per person and a taxi costs around 200 THB including the highway toll.