The Best Market Experiences in Thailand

A holiday to Thailand isn’t complete without making a trip to at least one market whether it’s by day, night or to one of the unique floating ones! Thailand’s markets are a colourful, bustling maze selling everything from fashion to food and flowers. As well as being able to pick up a bargain or too it’s also a great way to experience a slice of local life.

Bangkok

By Day

Chatuchak Weekend Market is by far the biggest of them all with over 8,000 stalls across 35 acres! Fear not, on arrival, head to an Information kiosk to pick up a colour coded map of the market to help you easily make your way around. It’s quicker to note here what you can’t buy at Chatuchak there is that much choice. Hot and tired feet? Head for a massage or to the beer garden to cool off. Not many people know that the market is also open on a Friday evening from 9pm too which offers a less busy and cooler shopping experience.

Or Tor Kor has been voted as one of the best fresh food markets in the world so this is a must see for any foodie. Just around the corner from Chatuchak (open every day of the week though) the sights, sounds and smells of this deliciously colourful market will leave you feeling hungry. Rows of fresh meat, seafood, vegetables, fruit spices and flowers fill the market making for Instagram worthy photos.

 

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Pak Klong Talat (Flower Market) is another picture worthy market, awash with colour from the array of fresh cut flowers that fill this authentic working market. Bright yellow Chrysanthemums, orchids, roses and the fragrant smell of Jasmine fills the air; watch your toes as traders hurry about with barrows. Walking distance from iconic Wat Pho, this is a lovely addition to a cultural day out.

By Night

Patpong Night Market is one of the city’s most known, located downtown in busy Silom, flanked with go-go bars, selling the usual tourist trinkets. The area has recently cleaned up its act so it offers a great choice for shopping a night out all on one street. Prices can be higher here as it’s so popular so it’s a great place to use your new bartering skills.

Asiatique is located on the banks of the Chaophraya river in a warehouse style complex filled with boutique shops, restaurants and market stalls inside and out. This is a more upmarket night market experience selling local Thai brands and designers rather than tourist trinkets. Then there’s the Bangkok Eye, a Ferris wheel that affords you dazzling city views as you go around.

Chang Chui Bangkok Plane Market has the shell of an Airbus at its centre and is an artist’s hub so expect to spot lots of other urban art pieces and sculptures around the market too. The theme is “nothing is useless” so you can pick up some wacky, unique, handmade up-cycled pieces.

Floating & Railway Markets

There are three very picturesque floating markets in and around Bangkok: Damnoen Saduak, Amphawa and Taling Chan. The first being the most popular, the second more authentic and the third less busy. Whichever market you choose it is best to arrive early in the morning to avoid the rush and the heat. Take in the colour, sights, smells and sounds from the river bank as you meander through the waterside stalls or hire a boat and experience the hustle and bustle from the water for a different perspective. You’ll be able to pick up tourist trinkets, local snacks and produce and experience local river life.

If you’re heading to Damnoen Saduak Floating Market it’s definitely worth adding on an extra stop to the unbelievable Mae Klong Railway Market – this really is a shopping experience that needs to be seen to be believed! This unique market is an hour south of Bangkok in the region of Samut Songkram where you’ll experience a true taste of local Thai life. The train track literally runs through the market, stalls set up to it’s very edge. You’ll hear the train, and its horn, before you see it, and suddenly the market is transformed as vendors help one another to move their wares back from the tracks and put down their umbrellas, sheltering them from the sun. The train creeps through slowly 8-10 times a day so while this a sight to behold for travellers we’re pretty sure it gets a bit tiring for the traders! You’re so close to the action you could touch the train but we don’t recommend this; just enjoy the spectacle and be amazed at how quickly the market returns to normal as the train passes.

You’ll find a bustling market wherever you go in Thailand. Top tips to shop day and night beyond Bangkok include:

Chiang Mai – Saturday & Sunday market, Warorot (great for foodies), Chiang Mai Night Bazaar.

Phuket – Phuket Weekend Market, Chillva in Phuket Old Town, Karon Temple Market (local cultural experience), Phuket Walking Street in Phuket Old Town.

Hua Hin – Hua Hin Night Market, Cicada (modern, art, local designers), Plern Wan (50’s inspired).

Koh Samui – Fisherman’s Village (Bophut) Walking Street, Elephant Walk Bophut, Chaweng Night Market & Walking Street, Lamai Night Plaza.

Now you know where the markets are why not follow our top tips for bartering to bag yourself a bargain.