Despite the presence of way too many glittering new shopping malls, Bangkok is still a city of markets. There are markets in just about every neighborhood, and some have become so famous that they draw customers from all around the city, as well as international visitors. Here's a list of the more interesting markets that you may want to work into your visit:
- Chatuchak Weekend Market
- This massive market is only open on Saturday and Sunday. Here you'll find everything from pets and plants to clothes and antiques. The market is open-air, though mostly covered, and can be incredibly hot on even a mild day. The small twisting aisles make it easy to get lost but it's hard to go too far in any one direction before hitting the open center area with its clock tower, or the drive circling the market. The market is ostensibly organized into sections for clothing, pets, furniture, etc. but you'll find anything anywhere. The market is located towards the northern edge of the city center, roughly half way between the old airport and the city center. The best way to get there is by subway to the Kampangphet station.
- Garment District
- This large rabbit-warren market sells mostly ready-to-wear clothes of the kind mass produced in Thailand. You can pick up clothes very cheaply here, but the styles are generally destined for Walmart. There are cloth and custom shops here as well.
- Patpong Night Bazaar
- It may seem odd for Bangkok's infamous red light district to be the site of a popular market, but, well, Thailand is full of such contradictions. Beginning around 7:00 p.m. every day, the sidewalks of Silom road as well as Patpong itself are filled with stalls selling clothing, trinkets, music and sundry other items. It can be quite crowded and there are of course a lot of touts on the prowl, so you need to be on your guard.
- Asiatique The Riverside
- This ambitious project is built in and around the old East Asiatic Company's warehouses, which were first established back in the mid-nineteenth century, although the refurbished buildings date from the early 1900s. It provides a night-time entertainment area with restaurants, shops and a few shows.
- Plant Markets
- Chances are you won't be able to take anything home from these markets, since most countries won't allow you to bring in plants, but a stroll through one of Bangkok's larger markets for houseplants may still provide some interesting sights.
- Railroad Market
- The Railroad Market, or Talat Rotfai, is a relatively new option for antique hunters in Bangkok. If you only have time for one of the weekly night markets, this is probably the one to take in.
Bangkok Fresh Markets
Fresh markets can be a feast for the senses. Those really "into" Thai food, or just into food in general, may really find them interesting. While modern supermarkets are quite common all around Bangkok, many Thais still prefer to get fresh produce at traditional markets. The big markets are the most interesting, and there are several that are easy for the independent traveler to find:
- Aw Taw Gaw
- The Agriculture Ministry's demonstration fresh market is one of the easiest markets to get to, and it's also the one of the nicest fresh markets you'll find in Bangkok.
- Klong Toey
- The sprawling market next to Bangkok's main sea port sells fresh seafood, fruit, vegetables, and just about everything else you can think of.
- Pak Klong Talat
- Right next to the royal city is Bangkok's oldest wholesale fresh market. With lots of fresh flowers and traditional sweets, the market is definitely a feast for the eyes.