Shop ‘Til You Drop: The Bangkok Market Guide

There is no place like Bangkok to shop. From massive shopping malls in Sukhumvit to street stalls hawking the latest knock-offs, getting the baht out in Thailand’s capital is an intoxicating and fun experience. No place is this more true than in the many markets the city offers. From the small alley-way markets to the massive, blocks upon blocks of stalls, the Bangkok markets offer shopping options like no other. It is easy to become seriously overwhelmed with all of the shopping options, so here’s a handy guide to our favorite Bangkok market experiences and what you can tuck into your luggage to bring home:

Chatuchak Market

Image showcasing Chatuchak, the capital's most famous Bangkok market!

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons: Karl Baron

Perhaps the most famous (and most widely recommended market) Bangkok market is Chatuchak. Spanning a massive 35 acres and packing in more than 15,000 shops, this is the place to go not only to get souvenirs (after all, doesn’t everyone need the “Same Same” T-shirt) but also vintage tee’s, shoes, bags, handicrafts and more. If you found that you had picked up too many t-shirts and other memorabilia then you could look up how to make a t-shirt quilt or how to make a tote bag from vintage t-shirts if you wanted to figure out how to make them into functional everyday items. Plus, there are plenty of food stalls. While some version of the market is open daily, the time to shop is on weekends when the area is at capacity with the stalls offering the wares locals and tourists want to bring home. To beat the crowds, head there in the morning around 9 a.m. and leave before noon. The market is open on weekends from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Getting there: Chatuchak is near the Kamphaengpecth and Suan Chatuchak Park MRT Stations and the Mochit Skytrain station.

The Amulet Market

While there are many amulet markets in Bangkok, this one by the Grand Palace is the most well-known and dubbed Amulet Alley. While Thailand does not allow for certain religious artifacts or antiques to be exported, shoppers can certainly bring back a relic of the religion to their home country. No place is better for this than the amulet market, which not only offers the amulets — which provide the wearer with protection and good fortune — but also plenty of books on Buddhism and more. Getting there: From the Grand Palace, it is a quick 10-minute walk. The market is located on Prachan Road between Sanam Luang and the river.

Dalat Rot Fai

Image of Dalat Rot Fai, another Bangkok Market

Photo courtesy: Alana Morgan, Paper Planes Blog

Skip the fisherman pants and wooden frogs and add some vintage to the must-bring-home bounty. Dalat Rot Fai, which recently moved locations from near Chatuchak Market and is now found near Seacon Square shopping center (which is off the beaten tourist path). Here, shoppers can find vintage goods in the city, from hipster clothing to second-hand clothing, handmade bags, random home goods, and more. It’s a traveler’s eye into the life of the young and cool in Bangkok and a must to catch a glimpse of the culture that is easy to miss when vacationing in the city. Open 5 p.m. to midnight, Tuesday through Sunday, head there to shop and then grab food and drink at the market, too. Getting there: There is no direct public transportation to this market. However, you can reach it via public transit and then a cab ride. From the BTS, exit at Chit Lom; from the Sky Train, exit at Nut On or Udom.

Sampeng Lane

Located in Chinatown, Sampeng Lane is a wholesale market perfect for shoppers looking to grab deals on anything from shoes to household goods to clothing and beyond. Packed on the weekends, this market is open daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and treats visitors to a nice sampling of knick-knacks, herbs, jewelry, girlie delights, and food. Plus, its location in Chinatown is one of the few places where people can glimpse more of a traditional look, and feel of the city. Getting there: Take a riverboat to Ratchawong Pier.

Amphawa Floating Market

Image of Amphawa Floating Market - a Bangkok Market on water

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons: Kwan Kwan

While floating markets are one way to get a glimpse of what life used to be like for locals along the river, today they are far more of a tourist attraction. That being said, skip the most well-known, Damnoen Saduak, and head to a more authentic and less touristy market — Amphawa. Sure, it is still crowded, but here there are fewer tourists than there are locals in search of good eats courtesy of the many food stalls and a mix of little shops. A trip out of town to this market needs to include a long tail boat ride to the gorgeous Wat Bang Koong. Because of the popularity of the market with locals, it gets packed in the afternoon, so take the 50 km trek early in the morning, arrive there around 9 a.m., and head out before lunch. This Bangkok market is only open on the weekends. Getting there: Catch an inexpensive minibus from Victory Monument to the market.

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