Bangkok is famous for so many things, but one of the things it is most famous for is shopping. Markets are everywhere in Bangkok including the sidewalks of the streets. One of the tours offered by the TBEX conference was the Chatuchak Weekend Market tour. In case you were wondering, there were tons of tours to choose from, and it was hard to choose one. I wanted to go to the Chatuchak Weekend Market even before I knew it was a tour, and I felt lucky to get this tour, as many went fast. I wanted a spa tour, but never was able to get one.
The Chatuchak Weekend Market is the largest outdoor market in Bangkok. We arrived in the morning to avoid the hottest part of the day and the crowds. The tour guide gave us each a map of the market and showed us where things were. The tour guide said we could split up and then they would collect us in a couple of hours at a designated spot, but we decided to stay together. Staying together proved to be the best idea, because even though I have an excellent sense of direction, I was lost immediately.
Before you even hit the shopping, you notice the food in the center of the market. There were things there I hadn’t seen before plus the usual Thai offerings such as Pad Thai. The coolest thing was that there were these little yellow flags at some stalls, and the guide mentioned that these were to signify that it was vegetarian! Even though I am not vegetarian, I thought this was a great idea and very helpful. I didn’t test it to see if it was true, though.
We wandered and bought. I was struck at all the things you could buy. I saw housewares, clothing, dried flowers, fake flowers, fabric, miniature furniture and food for dolls, wedding stuff, tablecloths, soap, wood carved objects, and much more. We didn’t even hit the entire market and this is what I saw. I did more shopping than anyone, as I was determined to buy a lot of my Christmas, presents here. In all, I bought two t-shirts, five scarves, five mini coin purses, two tote bags and a fan. I only spent about $50! If I could have carried more, I probably would have bought more. If you are on a serious shopping trip, I recommend bringing a big bag or backpack to carry everything. Just beware of pickpockets.
The thing that struck me the most was how clean and organized the market was. The streets were clean and nothing smelled! This was amazing to me considered the food and the loads of people who visit every day. You could tell the stall operators helped keep the streets clean, but I didn’t see any cleaners, so I am not sure how this was maintained. The other thing was how greenery and flowers also seemed to be everywhere. It added to the atmosphere and the feeling of clean in the market.
After all the shopping, I was ready to drop literally! I got really overheated and dehydrated and was probably on the verge of passing out. Once more crowds arrived and the day wore on the heat between the stalls grew intense and I was ready to eat lunch. This was after a brief respite with a sugary popsicle that you can get for 5 Baht, which is about .$14. We decided to eat in the market and I had excellent Pad Thai for 70 Baht, about $1.95! Not only were all the tourists eating there, but so were the locals and that is always a good sign. My fellow tour group members also ordered BBQ pork, which they raved about.
If I hadn’t been so tired, I could have stayed and shopped more. After eating, we decided to head back to our hotels. So if you really want to do the whole market, plan for the whole day and stay hydrated.
Getting there: My recommendation is to take the MRT to the Kampheng Phet station and skip getting off at the Chatuchak Park station. The guides said the Chatuchak Park station is quite a walk from the part of the market you want to be in. The Kamphen Phet station lets you off in the market and right next to a restroom if you need one after the long subway ride. The Chatuchak Weekend Market is open on Saturdays and Sundays. The hours I found online varied, but I would say 9:00 AM is probably a good bet. According to one website, the flower section is open on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 7:00 AM to 6:00 PM.