Among the many places that we visited in Bangkok, Chatuchak (or Jatujak) Weekend Market is one of the few we truly enjoyed, so much that we would not hesitate to return again. It has thousands of stalls selling a wide range of products including cheap and delicious local foods. The atmosphere and setup are very similar to our pasar malam but it is a whole lot bigger, easily ten to twenty times the size of a typical pasar malam. But first, you should know that Chatuchak Weekend Market is only open on Saturdays and Sundays 9am to 6pm just like the name says. So plan your trip accordingly if you wish to include Chatuchak Weekend Market into your list of places to visit.
Not only the vendors are not pushy, you will also be pleased to know that the whole market is a smoking free area! If you have a nice budget for shopping I am pretty sure you will have a good time here. Why? Because even a non-shopper like me who did not allocate any money for the visit bought quite a number of items – mainly artifacts, handicrafts and of course, lots of food and drinks.
There are a few ways to get to Chatuchak Weekend Market and I think the easiest way is by the BTS Sky Train. From any BTS station, board the northern bound train and alight at Mo Chit station. Then, just follow the signs for the market. Look at the crowd and the number of vans ferrying locals and tourists outside the market, it should give you a good idea on how popular it is.
If you don’t feel like walking there are free shuttle tuk tuk services in the market. From what I see, not many people are taking it, most still prefer to walk.
There is also a Chatuchak Plaza within the market where small food courts and shops selling more expensive goods could be found. It is somewhat like a maze and feels stuffy inside due to the roofing (lack of ventilation) Because of that I would suggest going in there only after you are done touring the exterior market.
The first thing we did as soon as we entered the market was to look for food! We had been eating at restaurants (mostly seafood) and Chatuchak was actually the first place we had a bite of the local flavors. One of the stalls we picked randomly due to their good business was selling Mango & Sticky Rice and Coconut Ice Cream for only 50 baht.
Delicious, the ripe mangoes are cut into thick slices and taste so sweet!
We also had a go at their Coconut Ice Cream. And man, it is the best thing to enjoy under the hot weather.
You could find occasional Western food here too, like this Spanish stall serving seafood and paella just opposite where we had the Mango Sticky Rice.
Orange juice stalls like these are everywhere and I urge you to try at least one bottle, you won’t regret it especially if this is your first time trying. These Thai oranges have green skins and are somehow so much juicier and sweeter than the normal ones (think Sunkist) we are used to buying in Malaysia. Even the sugarless version tastes great. Following are just some photos of random stalls operating in the market. Good thing is, there are not too many repetition of stalls so there are plenty of things to see, touch and photograph.
After a few hours walk at the exterior market, it was time to venture into the Chatuchak Plaza. It is best to reserve a few hours before it hits evening to explore the plaza because many of the shops were seen to close around 5 to 6pm.
A small food court.
Clothes for sale along one of the many narrow ‘sois’ that make up the maze-like plaza.
Religious artifacts, I bought a few of these for myself and my siblings as gifts. Haggling is encouraged, just keep it jovial and you should get most things 50% off the list price, more or less.
Hats, bags and various souvenirs.
River prawns are aplenty in Thailand, you will see them sold not only in seafood restaurants but also normal hawker stalls like this.
Stopped at a dessert stall to have a bowl of Tab Tim Krob. Look at the types of toppings you could choose from! Just so you know it was awesome, though not as hygienic as I hoped.
While you are here, do give the local ‘Teh Tarik’ a try. This particular stall is famous for their spinning tea-pulling routine (not that we were impressed, since these acts are pretty common in Malaysia) The tea flavor is a lot stronger which is evident by its darker color, worth trying only if you happen to stumble upon the stall. I feel there is no need to purposely look for them.
Saw some street performers on the way out, a common sight for any street market. In total we spent about three hours eating, drinking and shopping here and I think we probably only covered like a quarter of the market. Overall I would say that the Chatuchak Weekend Market did live up to its name as the largest weekend market in the world, and we would have hang out at the market longer if it hadn’t started to get dark. So for a more proper and thorough experience, I suggest allocating at least 6 hours to visit the Chatuchak Weekend Market, which means you should arrive here by noon.