Once only popular among wholesalers and traders, Chatuchak Weekend Market has reached a landmark status as a must-visit place for tourists. Its sheer size and diverse collections of merchandise will bring any seasoned shoppers to their knees – this is where you can literally shop ‘till you drop’.
The 35-acre (68-rai) area of Chatuchak is home to more than 8,000 market stalls. On a typical weekend, more than 200,000 visitors come here to sift through the goods on offer. Veteran shoppers would agree that just about everything is on sale here, although not all at the best bargain rates. But if you have one weekend in Bangkok, squeeze in a day trip to Chatuchak Weekend Market and you will not be disappointed.
Navigating Chatuchak Weekend Market
For first-timers, ‘conquering’ Chatuchak may seem like an impossible task, but worry not. There is a system to help you navigate your way through Chatuchak. Inside, one main walkway encircles the entire market, and it branches off into a series of numbered alleyways called Soi 1, Soi 2, Soi 3, and so on.
These alleyways are grouped into sections, with 27 sections in all. You will find more than one category of goods contained in one section, and the same category of goods will appear again in the other sections. In terms of locating your category of goods, this system is rather useless; but it will come in handy when you try to locate your particular stall or where your exact location is on the Chatuchak map.
Another way to find your way around Chatuchak is to find points of reference as you go along. The BTS and MRT stations as well as banks and numbered entrance gates are good points of references, as you will come across them as you turn corners. Then again, use the map to locate these references to find your correct orientation.
What’s For Sale?
If you can dream it up, Chatuchak probably has it. Here, you will be amazed at the sheer variety of merchandise, whether a Moroccan lamp, an antique wooden chest, a pair of vintage Levi’s jeans, or, on the exotic side, a python.
Although it’s impossible to name all, the selection of goods being offered at Chatuchak can be roughly divided into 11 categories:
- Clothing & Accessories (sections 2-6, 10-26)
- Handicrafts (sections 8-11)
- Ceramics (sections 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 25)
- Furniture and Home Decoration (sections 1,3,4,7,8)
- Food and Beverage (sections 2, 3, 4, 23, 24, 26, 27)
- Plants and Gardening tools (sections 3, 4)
- Art and Gallery (section 7)
- Pets and Pet Accessories (sections 8, 9, 11, 13)
- Books (sections 1, 27)
- Antiques and Collectibles (sections 1, 26)
- Miscellaneous and Used Clothing (sections 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 22, 25, 26)
When buying goods at Chatuchak, particularly ‘antiques’, it is wise to exercise a few precautions. Check your goods thoroughly to see whether there is any damage, as many vendors sell factory rejects. For ‘antiques’, don’t trust the vendor when he tells you it is genuine. It’s better to bring along an expert, unless you are happy with what you are paying for.
Chatuchak Weekend Market is the perfect place for bargain hunting, although whatever you buy here is probably no longer the best deal you can find. So brush up your negotiation skills and be prepared to walk away when the deal fails to go your way. Then, you’ll either be offered a lower price or simply find the same merchandise at another stall. It also helps to do a few practice runs before you actually start buying. Note that a friendly attitude and big smile are your biggest allies in securing the best possible deal.
How to Enjoy Your Shopping Experience
Few people go to Chatuchak knowing exactly what they want or which stall to go to. Many expect to be surprised and let the sights of all the goods take them through a journey down the maze of stalls. Most often, shoppers arrive with a rough idea of what they want, then are hypnotised by what they see and end up going home with more than a few extra shopping items.
So, the best advice is, if you are going for the first time, to pick a starting point then just follow your instincts, enjoy the experience and bring home your exciting new finds.
Before You Go to Chatuchak
Chances are you will end up spending at least half a day here so it is a good idea to prepare a few things to ensure that your shopping experience at Chatuchak is an enjoyable one.
- Wear light and comfortable clothing, e.g. shorts and a t-shirt/tank-top
- Wear comfortable shoes, e.g. a pair of sneakers or sandals
- Protect yourself against the sun, by wearing sunglasses, a hat and use sunscreen
- Bring a backpack for storing your new-found treasures. It is recommended that you wear your backpack on the front rather than on your back
- Always have bottled drinking water handy
- Bring enough cash. Most vendors do not accept credit cards, and it can be a long walk to the next ATM
- Beware of pickpockets and watch your belongings
- Plan to go in the morning, as it can get very hot and crowded in the afternoon
- Free maps are available from one of the information kiosks
How to Get to Chatuchak
Hop on the skytrain (BTS) to Mo Chit station, take exit no. 1 and follow the crowd until you see rows of canvas stalls selling clothes. Turn right while continuing to follow the crowd and you will see a small entrance that leads into the market (clothing section).
Another option is to take the subway (MRT) to Chatuchak Park station (exit no.1), then follow the crowd until you arrive at the small entrance that leads into the market (clothing section). For the plant and flower section, get off at Kampheng Phet MRT station (exit no. 1).
The weekend market is open on Saturdays and Sundays, 09:00 - 18:00, and Fridays 18:00 - 24:00. Plant sections are also open on Wednesdays and Thursdays, from 07:00 - 18:00.