Every time I asked a Bangkok expert on what to do and where to go when in Bangkok, Chatuchak Weekend Market always made the list. Weekend and night markets always pique my interest because they (almost) always give a truer feel of life as the locals would experience it. Cue the Pasar Malam in KL. We landed in Bangkok on a Saturday, and went to Chatuchak pretty much straight from the airport.
To get to Chatuchak Weekend Market, we took the quickest and cheapest mode of transport: the Skytrain/BTS. We boarded on the station closest to our hotel, which was Phrom Phong. The SkyTrain station that exits pretty much right outside Chatuchak Weekend Market is the Mo Chit station. The trip cost a total of 120 bhats each way, for the 3 of us. That’s nearly half of what a cab would cost, and saved us from the traffic on the roads.
Whenever I go to a street market/night market, I don’t ever particularly have a shopping list that details beyond “cool stuff”. This means I end up finding and buying the most random, and often coolest memorabilia that I previously didn’t even know for to exist. I’m looking at you scented soaps that look like coconut halves. And no, in case those of you familiar with Bangkok’s scented soaps are wondering, I did not buy any citrus scented soaps that resemble male genitalia, because I do feel they wouldn’t be a very welcome sight in our powder room.
People say that bargaining is essential as almost all price tags are inflated, but in our experience as very obvious tourists, none of the shopkeepers budged one bit.
There is also a LOT of food to try over here! Very few halal/seafood only/vegetarian options, but a LOT of food overall!
THESE are two big bowls of CONDIMENTS! We were SO tempted to try them, but none of the food at this kiosk were pork-free 🙁
In addition to going into whatever store was playing Justin Bieber, regardless of what they were selling, (because of course, right?), here are some of the interesting things at Chatuchak Weekend Market which we saw and/or tried/purchased:
Fresh fruit! Because OF COURSE! A welcome sight in the hot humid summer, and an inexpensive refreshing treat that we couldn’t get enough of.
JJ Coco coconut milk ice-cream. I must confess that this is probably the biggest reason I wanted to go to Bangkok, and once I had this, I felt that the purpose of my trip had been achieved.
Inexpensive massage parlours for the exhausted shopper. I found this funny and fascinating at the same time. We decided to pass on this though.
Tub Tim Krob: the best we have ever had, in fact! They say you should always eat where the locals eat, and this place was packed with locals, and understandably so. This refreshing dessert is a bowl of ice cubes, coconut milk, coconut palm sugar syrup and water chestnuts that have been coated in red-stained tapioca starch, to look like rubies. SO refreshing on a hot day!
Cheesey garlic bread, because of how Earth could my sister pass by this and not have it?
A HUGE store of traditional Thai serve-ware, and yes I compulsively bought one!
Super refreshing, chilled juices, because did I mention how hot and humid it was?
My plums-loving sister grabbed this bag of what looked like mini plums, but it turned out to be a crunchy, bitter fruit. We have still not been able to identify said fruit. Please help?
I’m sure most of you have had coconut water, but have you ever had smoked coconut water? It was our first time too. It didn’t taste much different though.
We did find a halal restaurant/kiosk eventually, but we didn’t feel too tempted by their offerings.
What we did try, was my first ever Miang Kham! This is essentially a betel leaf parcel that encloses tiny bits of ginger, lime, toasted coconut, onions, chilies, peanuts, and a very special sauce! You can buy these on skewers or as individual components which you can assemble later at your own convenience. This was a very exciting discovery!
We also saw these ginormous breaded and fried prawns, but 1. We were not sure if they had been fried in lard or not, and almost no one speaks English, and 2. We were really more in the mood for cold, refreshing things. Hot humid summer, remember?
So, lo and behold, enter: my trusted companion throughout my Bangkok trip: Mango and Sticky Rice. I was eating this stuff 3 times a day, because this is the HOME OF MANGO AND STICKY RICE! One simply does not go to Bangkok and not OD on Mango and Sticky Rice! Totally worth the 2kgs I gained in a week. Also, note that it cost 50 baht in Chatuchak Weekend Market and other open markets, but cost 100-120 in mall food courts.
Other things we found at the the Chatuchak Weekend Market included super inexpensive, personalized passport covers. 80 bhats for one!
Air-dried crispy durian chips, which M brought back 5 large packs of. Our luggage looked more like a grocery haul than anything else, really.
We also got lots, and LOTS of Cha Tra Mue Thai tea. Red, Green, Ceylon, you name it and we brought back enough Thai tea to last us three generations. Beware of pricing though. We bought around 10 boxes from the first store we saw, only to later discover that the 160 bhats per box the shopkeeper charged us was 40 bhats over the retail price. Just about everyone else was charging 120 bhats, and even Cha Tra Mue themselves charge 120 bhats.
We also went into whatever store was playing Justin Bieber, regardless of what they were selling, because of course, right?
On the whole, Chatuchak Weekend Market is without a doubt a great place to shop for souvenirs and try a world of inexpensive Thai foods and I can see myself going back regardless of the number of times I visit Bangkok. You’ll mostly see food pictures in my post because food is the usual agenda of all my excursions, but there were tons and tons of clothes, sunglasses, mobile covers, everything under the sun, really- ceramic sinks even! It’s a great “one-stop shopping solution”. They even have a big golf-cart that helps customers get from one end to the other, free of cost (albeit with limited spaces), AND, they have free WiFi! Sold, a hundred times over.