The captivating Thieves Market (aka ‘Woeng Nakhon Kasem’) has a long history of being the go-to place in Bangkok to pick up fake luxury goods, knock-off electronics from China, and general contraband like dirty DVDs and dubious herbal medicine. The market has recently cleaned up its act, although prices for a lot of the wholesale items are still fell-off-the-back-of-a-lorry kind of cheap.
Even if you’re not on the lookout for a smelly pair of secondhand shoes, a whole kitchen sink or a miscellaneous TV remote, Thieves Market is still worth a browse, especially if you’re in the Chinatown (Yaowarat) area. It’s a great way of seeing an authentic Thai market in full swing, and besides, you might even spot a hidden treasure that’s priced well under what it is worth. Most of the vendors lay out their goods out on the floor Saturdays and Sundays only.
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The sprawling Thieves Market has occupied a relatively large area around Charoen Krung Road – one block up from the busy Yaowarat stretch – for over 100 years, acquiring its infamous name due to the fact that most goods on sale were probably once stolen. Government crackdowns over the years now means the items on sale come from more legitimate sources; that said, there’s no guaranteeing the authenticity of that 1,000 baht ‘Rolex’ or whether that 100-year-old Buddha amulet you’ve been duped into buying is more like 10-years-old.
Walking around Thieves Market, you’ll notice that items for sale are loosely grouped together in vague sections. For example, there’s an undercover plaza right in the middle selling secondhand electronics, adult DVDs and various forms of literature, while moving along there’s areas dedicated to cooking appliances, electronic circuit boards, Buddhist accessories and a very impressive dried spice section close to Wat Mongkol temple.
The best way to find Thieves Market is to head up the main street of Chinatown, Yaowarat Road, and turn right into ‘Warachak Road’ towards the top. The best route inside is found directly opposite the entrance of the more popular Sampeng Market on the other side of Yaowarat. The main market is held over the weekend, but much of the same stuff (just in less quantity) can be found within the shophouses throughout the area during the week. It’s also worth noting that this is not a night market, with most traders setting up shop from 10:00-18:00.
- Opening Hours: Sat/Sun 10:00-18:00