Sampeng Lane Market pretty much sums up the whole shopping experience of Chinatown – and, to some extent, the surrounding Old City area; it’s hot, busy, and the narrow lanes often become overly congested with vendors selling everything from fabrics, cheap clothes and electronics. As well as the steady flow of pedestrian traffic, pushcarts, worn-out vespers and the occasional truck overflowing with fresh produce all add to the madness.
But this definitively hectic nature of Sampeng is all part of the fun. Plus, this really is one of the cheapest places to come shopping in Bangkok, with impressive discounts available when you buy in bulk (10 or more items at a time gets you into wholesale territory). The most popular items to look out for are silk sarongs, jewellery, copied DVDs, women’s shoes, home décor and appliances, kids’ toys, cosmetics, handicrafts, dried food and all your usual tourist souvenirs.
The market, although usually known as just ‘Sampeng’, is actually located on Soi Wanit 1, a small alleyway running parallel to Chinatown’s main Yaowarat Road. The shops and stalls aren’t only restricted to this walkway though, with plenty more action to be found in the surrounding maze of sois. There’s no particular layout at Sampeng meaning you’ll probably get lost at some point, so set aside a good one or two hours to fully cover the area. Do note that this is not a night market, with most of the vendors packing up after sundown (around 18:00).
Naturally, food is another reason to visit this part of town. The main Yaowarat stretch is the best place to hit in the evening for a dinner, but there’s plenty of great snacks to be had a Sampeng during the day like moo ping (barbequed pork), kanom buang (crispy tacos with sweet filling), mango and sticky rice, isaan sausage, fish cakes, spring rolls, rotis and ice cream (best tried it in a sandwich if you can find it). There’s also a few guay diow (noodle soup) vendors that squeeze a few tables and chairs into a couple of dark, cramped nooks within the middle of Sampeng.
While street food, nightlife and temples will always entice tourists to the Old City and Chinatown, when it comes to shopping, Sampeng Market is difficult to beat both in terms of price and fun… just as long as you’re not in a rush nor mind working up a bit of a sweat.
Sampeng Lane Market
- Opening Hours: Daily 08:00:18:00
- Location: Sampeng Lane, Soi Wanit 1, Chinatown, Bangkok