Chatuchak Weekend Market, Bangkok

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Travel Features >> Chatuchak Weekend Market, Bangkok

Chatuchak Weekend Market, Bangkok

April 01, 2011

For marketing mayhem and complete chaos just land up at Bangkok’s famous Chatuchak weekend market. It’s location is the Chatuchak Park, which if nothing else is indisputably Huge! The park’s entire 35 acres, once the weekend arrives, becomes the site of the greatest affair that the world of shopping hosts. For sheer scale, variety, punch and spice, for colour and taste and smells and sights, for atmosphere – there isn’t another shopping event to beat this one.

Just about everything and anything that may be sold lands up at Chatuchak over Friday, Saturday and Sunday. From garden plants to fine benjarong pottery, from incense sticks to smelly durian, caged birds to feather boas, little tuk-tuk models to… well, bowls of steaming phad thai, the big and the small, things that appeal and things that appall are all here. And to lead you to these goodies are innumerable tiny winding lanes where makeshift stalls stand cheek by jowl and this huge mass of humanity is on the move - browsing, bargaining, buying while at the same time trying not to step on anybody’s toes.

The Chatuchak weekend market comes up on Saturday and Sunday at Chatuchak Park. On Fridays it is open mainly for wholesale distribution but small shoppers aren’t discouraged. The garden plants section is open on Wednesdays and Thursdays as well. Which brings one to the issue of the ‘mapping of Chatuchak’. On paper the market is actually divided into sections according to what they sell, but that’s only on paper. In practise the good old disorder prevails and just as well. The method in this particular madness works well for somebody who hasn’t turned up knowing exactly what they want – so they get a fairly good idea of all that’s on offer without trudging from one ‘section’ to another. Which is something that you certainly don’t want to do under Bangkok’s famously hot sun.

The official timings are from 9 am to 6 pm (‘Garden Plants’ on Wednesday and Thursday is open from 7 am to 6 pm). In fact the market comes up between 9 and 10 in the morning and shuts down around sundown. The best time to visit, keeping in mind the heat and the crowds, is the morning. There are many ordinary and air conditioned buses to suan jatujak or Chatuchak. The Skytrain though is by far the most comfortable transport option: get down at Mo Chit station and head in the same direction as the crowd - everybody’s headed for the market. It’s a 5-minute walk between the station and the market.

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