Bangkok’s Manic Chatuchak Market

Around this time last year, I was in Salzburg and Munich enjoying the Christmas markets. The cold winter’s days were spent keeping my hands warm with hot chocolate through chunky mittens, exploring stalls stacked with Christmas treats, having my fair share of apple strüdel and feeling festive amongst the carollers, sparkling lights and towering Christmas trees.

This year was quite the contrast! Under Thailand’s scorching sun, we wandered the sweltering, tightly packed stalls of the Chatuchak weekend market.

Bangkok is well known for the diverse shopping it offers. From the fancy, high end malls serving the elite, which sell the latest Louis Vuitton collections and Ferrari’s, to slightly crazed markets offering all kinds of knock offs, tourist tat and even live animals, and then there’s everything in between. It’s very doubtful you’ll leave Bangkok empty handed.

Chatuchak market is a highlight of Bangkok’s shopping scene. It is absolutely ginormous. In fact it’s the biggest market in Thailand. The labyrinth-like market is divided into 27 different sections. This is supposedly meant to help people find their way around but trust me, getting lost is inevitable. We ended up wandering round and round in circles on numerous occasions saved only by googling a copy of this useful map:

Also the big clock tower in the middle of that market is a great landmark for finding your bearings. There’s often a band playing here which makes it even easier to find.

The diversity of goods available is overwhelming. Chatuchak Market is piled high with everything you ever wanted and everything you never knew you wanted: clothing, ornaments, plants, cosmetics, jewellery, antiques, kitchenware, spices and curry pastes, home decor, pet accessories, books and freshly cooked food. The market is a spectacle splashed with every colour of the rainbow. Be prepared to browse in awe for an entire day

Yes, these are fish-shaped sandals!

If it all gets too much, just stop off in one of the many massage parlours scattered throughout the market.

My favourite part of the market was the art gallery section. It is a lot calmer than the rest of the market and exhibits some beautiful artwork.

This area also has lots of cafes making it the perfect spot to have a rest, admire the art and cool down with a vase-full of Thai iced tea.

On the outskirts of Chatuchak market there is a sizeable area selling fish. Here you will see all sorts of vibrant creatures of all sizes.

In a different setting it could have been quite lovely to see all these fish however I found this part of the market quite distressing. Fish were piled into bags and containers with minimal water. Many of the fish were forced to lie on their sides in order to be submerged in water. From what I saw, this treatment extended to turtles, frogs, lobsters and crabs. For anyone else who might find this troubling, I would recommend skipping this part of the market.

Nevertheless, I had a great time exploring the main part of Chatuchak market and picked up a few souvenirs. I treated myself to a couple of curry pastes (massaman curry, of course, and tom yum soup), a leelawadee body scrub, a bar of jasmine soap, a pair of sunglasses and a t-shirt.

5 thoughts on “Bangkok’s Manic Chatuchak Market

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