Taking a stroll through Asia’s largest market
Chatuchak Weekend Market has undoubtedly reached a landmark status in Bangkok.
It was once only popular amongst traders and wholesalers, but this 35-acre area has transformed into
a shopping nirvana for locals and travellers alike. You can find absolutely everything and anything
at Chatuchak, it would even send the most seasoned of shoppers into a frenzy!
Chatuchak is located in the North West of Bangkok and is most easily accessible by alighting at BTS Skytrain station Mochit or by taking the MRT Subway to Chatuchak Park. The market has been open since 1942, though it used to go by Phahonyothin Market and had moved around the area a few times before being relocated to its current location on the south side of Chatuchak Park in 1983. And in 1987 the market was bestowed its current name. Since then it has continued to grow and now attracts hundreds of thousands of shoppers every weekend. We dive into what makes this market so unique and appealing, as well as what you can expect when you visit Chatuchak.
When is the best time to go to Chatuchak ?
Chatuchak is only open on Friday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays! So during the week you can fo-cus on exploring some other wondrous parts of Bangkok. The best time to go is early in the morning Saturday or Sunday (from 9am onwards), this is when you can score the best deals with vendors. Since many shopkeepers believe the first sale of the day will bring them good luck for the rest of the day, they’re more likely to lower the price more than usual to make that first sale!
How can you navigate through Chatuchak ?
For first time Chatuchak visitors the market seems like a beast that can’t be tamed. There’s so much going on, it can sometimes feel like you don’t know which direction to go in. But worry not as there is actually a system and some order to all the madness. As of 2019, Chatuchak boasted more than 15,000 stalls and 11,505 vendors altogether, divided into 27 sections. You’ll notice upon arrival that inside the market there is a main walkway which circles around the entire area of the market. Off this main route you’ll see numbered alleys peeling off in every direction, these are called sois. Each soi is grouped into one of those sections which has been categorised by what is being sold in that zone. If you’re still feeling lost try to find the clock tower, this is the most distinctive landmark in the market and should help you to navigate through the myriad of shops and stalls. And make sure to grab one of the free maps to help guide you!
Bargaining and bartering tips !
Once you know which direction you’re going in it’s time to shop! Chatuchak is the perfect place for hunting bargains. And bartering is basically a prerequisite, it’s part of the fun of shopping at this in-credible market. Most things are already quite cheap so be conscious of the discount you’re asking the vendor for, if you want them to be on your side then you need to be fair. And it’s not advisable to try and barter in the higher end shops in the market, these usually operate a fixed price policy. If you can squeeze in a few words of Thai then you’ll increase your chances of winning the vendors over, and of course a big smile and a grateful attitude goes a very long way in getting what you want!