Noelle here: Two great things happened yesterday as we made our way to the Chatuchak Weekend Market! First and maybe most significant is that we took the BTS Skytrain for the first time. It was pretty easy and now we know we can go wherever we want!
The second great thing was taking that Skytrain to Bangkok’s Chatuchak Market, also called JJ Market. We got off at (N8) Mo Chit Station (Sukhumvit Line) and then we just followed the crowd through Exit 1.
You could also get there on the MRT (Metropolitan Rapid Transit), which is an underground train service. Take the Central line to Chatuchak Park. Travelling on the MRT is as cheap as the BRT, so from Silom to Chatuchak Park will cost about 40 Baht for an adult (about $1.25 USD). The trains run from 6 am to midnight so you can shop till you drop and still make it back to your hotel easily!
Once we arrived at the Market, we determined a meeting place should we get separated and then both took pictures of the map (like looking at the map did either of us much good, ha!).
So that map doesn’t really tell you the whole story, but there are 15,000 stalls over 35 acres, with around 200,000 weekend visitors. That’s about the same as EVERY resident from Salt Lake City, Utah visiting in two days! EVERY resident! Yes, it was crowded. Yes, everything you could possibly imagine was there.
The market is open from 9am-6pm Saturday and Sunday. We had every intention of being there at 9am, but we didn’t actually roll out of our hotel room until then. The aisles were crowded and hot, but there are lots of fans running everywhere and much of the market is under metal roofing, so it stayed way cooler in those sections.
The art of haggling is one that I’m not great at. You’d think I’d love it, because I do love a great bargain and I do want a lower price, but it feels awkward. I’m sure I’ll get used to it though. I scored a leather glasses’ case for 180 baht, when the listed price was 280. The seller smiled back at me and he didn’t even bat an eye, he just said okay, so that was pretty fun. I didn’t bargain for a hat though, because a shop sign clearly listed the lowest price. Watching for those signs helped me understand the system a little better.
I also watched other people to see how they were haggling and that gave me confidence to try it. One place not to haggle though, is over prepared food costs. They are what they are, whether at the Chatuchak Weekend Market or any food stall in Thailand.
We saw huge sections for clothing, home accessories, vintage items, import items, literally everything we could think of. I’d read that there’s a section of animals. We didn’t see it and I don’t think we would have gone there anyway. Some blogs I read say that animals are in cages and their care was questionable. It just didn’t seem like an area that I wanted to seek out.
One popular stall had people lined up waiting to get a temporary painted tattoo! It looked fun.
We wanted to buy so many items in the home area. Too bad we’re kind of homeless right now. Haha!
Artwork to die for!
The artists were amazing. The gentleman below did the most intricate designs on tennis shoes. I wanted to snatch a pair right up. It was fantastic watching him work.
There were places in the Market to buy more bags and suitcases to carry home your treasures. We definitely limited ourselves because it’s our first week and we’ll be here for months, but I can easily see how people buy up all sorts of goodies. You can even have items shipped worldwide from DHL and UPS stalls found in the annex on Kamphaeng Phet II Road.
We shopped for awhile and then we found the FOOD! There are small food stalls sprinkled throughout the whole Market, but near the clock tower (maybe it was the center?) was an entire section of deliciousness.
We sampled pork on a stick and fried shrimp. There was so much to choose from!
As you walk by, all the food sellers are trying to get you to choose their stall. They showed menus and they all said, “Same, same” and pointed around, leading us to believe that you could order from any stall after you sat down. Not true! 😉 If you went with a person, she took you to her section of the seating area and you could only choose from her stall’s menu. That makes sense when you think about it, but if you want to try items from different stalls, just buy from them individually.
We really enjoyed our time at the Chatuchak Weekend Market. We spent about five hours wandering around, shopping, eating and people-watching. It was super fun, but I’m not entirely positive it’s a “don’t miss” sight, for us, anyway.