LOCATION: Take the skytrain (BTS) to Mo Chit station and exit down the right-hand stairs.
OPEN: 08:00 - 18:00 on weekends and Fridays
Covering 70 rai (35 acres) of land with over 15,000 stalls and more than 200,000 visitors every Saturday and Sunday, Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok is the mother of all markets - and possibly one of the biggest and most famous markets in the world. If bargain-hunting gives you an adrenalin rush, get ready for a head-spinning, earth-moving experience. Conquering this massive market is no easy feat though. The reward for taking a lot of patience along - together with a bottle of water - is that you can find pretty much anything here.
There are two ways to approach your shopping excursion. Firstly, to get a free map from one of the information kiosks and try to plan your adventure through the never-ending maze of crowded, narrow alleys that are, surprisingly, numbered. But, it's so big that even with a map you might find yourself going around in circles. Areas are also demarcated in colour zones with clothing and fashion items grouped together, a section for household goods, crafts, pets, art and collectables, plants, wholesale items, food, and everything in between. Through the years vendors haven't always abided to the colour-coding, resulting in what could be called 'organised chaos'. The second way is to just follow your instincts and leave it all up to karma. Either way, it's virtually impossible to see it all in one day - and even more unlikely that you won't find something to get excited about.
If you are able to keep track of where you're going and can cover a big part of the market, you'll be amazed with the sheer variety of merchandise. From roosters and chopsticks to vinyl records and a pair of Levi hipsters that you haven't seen in shops for years. You can buy a python, beautiful orchids, garden furniture, and camo wear. Or beads, fake antiques, the latest Caf- del Mar CD... The earlier you get there, the better too. Not only to make sure you have enough time to cover it all, but also to get a head-start before it gets too crowdy and hot.
Getting to Chatuchak Weekend Market early will give you the advantage of getting there before the crowds, and escaping the heat... Stalls start opening from as early as 08:00, while things literally heat up from 11:00 onwards. We strongly advise you to get there as early as possible.
Putting your bartering skills to the test
Chatuchak Weekend Market is the perfect place for bargain shopping and to put your bartering skills to the test. A friendly attitude and big smile are your biggest allies to secure the best possible deal. There are a few ATM's scattered about, but they are not always easy to find. So take along enough cash, as not many vendors or stall owners accept credit cards. A fascinating aspect of the market is that many emerging Thai artists, craftsmen and business people have started their successful careers with a stall at Chatuchak. Keep your eyes peeled for lots of raw talent, innovation and craftsmanship. And then there are some very interesting vendors who have been selling their merchandise at the market for decades, and it's clear that they love what they do.
As is customary anywhere in Thailand, you can find plenty to eat and drink all over the market. Check out some of the unusual delicacies too, like grubs, frogs and scorpions, mostly deep-fried and spiced heavily. It's very easy to get your hands on an ice-cold beer too, which is often the best way to quench a thirst in extreme heat and humidity. As long as you make sure to drink lots of liquids to avoid dehydration - and wear light clothing! Chatuchak is also like any other big market in the world; crowdy and busy. So watch out for pickpockets and keep your personal belongings safe.