Musings about early retirement with no fixed address

Bangkok’s Incredible Chatuchak Market

I’ve always enjoyed going to markets. Whether that’s a local farmers market or a sprawling flea market, they are always interesting experiences. It’s one of the main reasons that I enjoy travel so much. Markets put all of the differences in culture into one concentrated exhibit. So when I learned that Bangkok is home to the self-proclaimed World’s Largest Weekend Market, I immediately moved it to the top of my list of places to visit. According to their website, the Chatuchak Market has “over 15,000 stalls which are spread across 35 acres and 26 sections which range from Food, Art, Antiques, Fashion and much more.” And I don’t want to sound hyperbolic, but it’s the best market I’ve ever been to.

Normally I would expect a vast mega-market like this to contain a lot of junk, but that was not the case at all. There were no stalls selling used car parts or VHS tapes. It seemed like nearly every vendor there was selling something worth buying. It was less like a flea market and more like a large collection of small retailers specializing in one or two things. It easily tops anything we found in Hong Kong or Vietnam during out last official vacation.

Lots of cool plants for sale
Fancy adorned Buddhas and other religious accessories
Beautifully carved wooden utensils and bowls

This is not simply a tourist market either. Locals flock to it from all over the city to do their shopping for household items, especially clothing. The clothing options are many including bulk fabric, vintage t-shirts, fancy dresses, accessories, and every kind of footwear imaginable. For the most part, you can be assured that if you want something, the Chatuchak Market has it for sale.

A large array of fabrics
Clothing at no haggle prices (190 baht = $6.25)
So many shoes

The main challenge can be finding what you’re looking for among the maze of vendors. Luckily they tend to have similar vendor types clustered together. As long as you can find the general area, you’ll be inundated with choices. If you’d prefer not to blindly wander, there are maps posted near the main entrances that give you a good idea of how to get to the specific areas. Personally, I wasn’t shopping for anything in particular, so I just used the market as a way to stroll aimlessly for hours while in constant awe of the giant selection of everything.

They even sell desert plants in the jungle
Native species as well
Don’t forget the jewelry
You can even get a temporary tattoo. No pain!

The Chatuchak Market has a wide walkway that circles the outside and is lined with large vendor stands. On the inside of the walkway, there are countless smaller vendors that are accessible through small winding lanes. This inner part is under a patchwork roof made from a combination of corrugated metal and tarps, which is nice if you need to get out of the sun or rain. Among the inside vendors are scattered restaurants, coffee shops, and the ubiquitous Thai massage parlors. There’s even a bar or two in case you need a large beer on a hot day.

The outer walkway
An inside lane. These get really crowded when the rain comes.
A long day of shopping deserves a delicious break

About the only thing missing that I was expecting to see were produce vendors. That’s not to say that there aren’t people selling fresh fruit for you to consume on site, but this isn’t the place to stock up on fruits and veggies for the next week. However that also means it’s missing the meat and seafood vendors, so at no point will you get smacked in the face with the fish smell when walking around. And of course there are dozens of other markets around Bangkok that can provide you with cheap abundant produce.

Mango in every shape and form
There were multiple fried octopus stands

If you want something more substantial than fresh fruit to eat, there are dozens of food vendors selling an array of edible items. Some were more edible than others in my view. I can vouch for the coconut pancakes, which were absolutely delicious and incredibly cheap at 8 small pancakes for 30 baht (just under $1). I also sampled the grilled squid, but was less impressed with that. Those people with an adventurous palate will love the variety available. If you’re a little more reserved like me, there are still plenty of delicious and cheap options.

How about a whole fish or giant prawn?
I ate this squid on a stick. It was just okay.
The coconut pancake in action. This was the only place we found that sold them. They were so delicious, we are going back again next weekend.

All in all, the Chatuchak Market is an awesome and entertaining place. I’d highly recommend a visit even if you’re not looking to buy anything. The best way to get there is to take the MRT underground subway to the Chatuchak Park stop. It’s only a short walk from there to the best market in Bangkok and my new favorite market in the whole world.

Are you as enthralled by markets as I am? I’d love to hear about your favorite(s).


  1. Dianne

    That market may be the only reason I would endure what would seem to me an endless plane flight to come for a visit! 🙂

    • Eric

      You let me know!

  2. Ned A Haylett

    Been there with our extended family. Had a great time.

    • Eric

      I think it would be hard not to! 🙂

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