Last Saturday my friends and I went to Chatuchak Weekend Market. This market is sometimes called J.J. by the locals. It is a biggest market in Thailand…and maybe in the world. According to Chatuchak website, this market covers 70 rai (27 Acres) and contains more than 15,000 stalls and sells almost everything you could possibly want.
Big, isn’t it? Many people get lost there…including us 🙁 even if it was not our first time there. This market is very popular among local as well as tourists. So, I think it would be a good idea to share you a few tips to survive in a maze of stalls.
1. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. This market is an outdoor market and you will get sweaty, so dress light. Prepare hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen, you might need them.
2. Prepare cash. Most shop owners there do not accept credit cards. ATMs are placed there, but you might take a long walk.
3. Get a free map. Believe me; you need a map to survive in this maze of stalls. You can get one from the information kiosks. Or, if you want to see it and plan how to walk there in advance, it is available here. The market is divided into 27 Sections. Each section has several alleys which are called Soi in Thai. The detail of each section can be found at Chatuchak website. For example, Section 1 sells amulets and books. Section 2-4 sells home decorations. But believe me, I still see everything is mixed in the same section!!! So, don’t set high expectation. For me, this system is not efficient at all…but maybe it’s better than nothing.
4. Go early in the morning or late in the afternoon. It is recommended to go there in the morning because it starts to become crowded by lunchtime and can get HOT. However, personally, I choose to go there late in the afternoon around 16:00 when the sun gets down.
5. Keep an eye on your belongings. Beware of pickpockets. They are everywhere in the world! I can’t say it safe, but I’ve never had bad experience there.
6. If you like it, buy it immediately. Even if you have map, you can get lost. So, if you find something you like, I recommend you to buy it…or maybe you will never find it again! Well…don’t forget to bargain before you buy!
7. Don’t worry about water and food. The stalls selling drinking water and food cover every corner of the market. There are also many restaurants where you can sit down and have a full meal.
8. And don’t forget to try this.
Mango with sticky rice
Thai ice-cream or ancient ice cream. There are various flavors such as strawberry, orange, mango, coffee, chocolate, milk tea and so on.
And traditional Thai ice cream in the steel bucket. This one is rarely found on the streets nowadays, but you can see it in this market.
After walking in the market for 4 hours, we decided to take a cab to Suan Mokkh International Dhamma Hermitage and Suan Rod Fai (Vachirabenjatas Park). If you get tired of shopping, you can go to these 2 places.
Update: December, 2013
How to get there: The easiest way to go there is by either skytrain (BTS) or subway (MRT). For skytrain, get off at Mo Chit station and take exit no. 1. For subway, you can either get off at Chatuchak Park station and take exit no. 1 or get off at Kampheng Phet and take exit no. 1. My favorite one is getting off at Kampheng Phet station because this option leads me into the middle of Chatuchak market. The other options take 5-minute walk to the market.
Opening Hours: This market is open on Saturdays and Sundays, 06:00 – 18:00 (most shops is usually open from 08:00 to 21:00). It is also open for the wholesale on Fridays, 22:00 – 05:00. Besides, plants and flowers sections are open on Wednesdays and Thursdays, 06:00 – 18:00.
Have you ever been to Chatuchak Market? Have you ever been to an outdoor market like this one? Share your experience with me in comments!