How to survive the world’s biggest market

Bangkok is not a place normally associated with peace and tranquility. In fact it’s more of a crazy, never sleeps-never stops kind of city but that’s what gives it it’s beautiful charm. The scary drivers and even scarier tuk tuk owners torment the roads whereas the infamous Koh San Road is never without a dull thud of drum and bass from one of the many bars littering the street. But within this crazy city is something even more insane: the Chatuchak weekend market. And what a market it is.

Boasting as the biggest market in Thailand and the biggest weekend market in the world, you know instantly a trip here is never going to result in a quiet or calming day. But it is the one and only destination for any item in the world. Pets? Check. Home furnishings? You bet! A multitude of random clothing and accessories? Of course! No matter what you’re looking for, all you need do is head to Chatachak and the market is your oyster.

Hidden just outside Bangkok’s city centre is the biggest cluster of tarpaulin covered stalls ever seen, helping to form Chatuchak’s many hidden wonders. Unless you have an agenda, you will be lost inside the markets rickety walls for a lifetime. Thankfully for tourists and the directionally-challenged, the market is sliced up into sections making it slightly easier to find what you’re looking for. Sections are named by the types of items they sell, such as “pottery”, “art” and even “tourist clothing” for the slightly bigger boned Westerners that are looking for some new atire. If you want to avoid being called “fat”, I suggest you head here.

Whether you leave early to beat the hustle and bustle or take your time exploring each and every avenue of stalls, time will not be on your side. The market opens at 9am and closes at 5pm, which seems like enough time to find some knock off Nikes, but trust me it’s not. These are very loose timings and stalls can open and close whenever the owner feels like it. So if you have a burning desire for a particular item, make sure you buy it when you see it. With so many stalls competing for your money, it’s almost impossible to “go back and get it later” unless you leave a trail of breadcrumbs. But that just might lead you to a group of happy, hungry cockroaches (yes, they are everywhere).

Of course spending the day at Chatuchak market is not a bad idea. There is so much to see, do and buy. And there’s a huge variety of food stalls, bars, cafes and even tiny restaurants for you to try some strange but delicious market food and re-energise yourself for another round of shopping. Don’t forget that bartering is a must at all markets in Thailand, and this is no exception. Never take their first price as gospel, as you will be able to get at least 10% off the asking price.

So arm yourself with water, suncream and a hefty bag for all your purchases and head to Chatuchak for a market experience you will never forget. And if you’re lucky, you might even find your way out before sunset.

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