Not only is Bangkok one of the great food cities of the world, it is also a world class shopping destination. From street side stalls to one of the largest outdoor markets in Asia to some of the most modern and sophisticated shopping malls in world; it’s all in Bangkok. There are tons of other places to go but on this page we are describing only locales that we have personally visited.
When we think of shopping in Bangkok, the first place that comes to mind is the Chatuchak Weekend Market. As the name implies, it is open only on Saturday and Sunday. This place is huge and just goes on and on. We’ve seen estimates that there are over 8,000 stalls (some estimate as high as 15,000) in Chatuchak. Among other things, we’ve found good deals on textiles, baskets, statuary and clothes there. On our most recent trip, we stumbled into the art section and were really impressed with what we saw.
Chatuchak Market goes by several names. You might see it referred to as Jatujak Market but the most common alternative is simply JJ Market.
One of the easiest ways to reach Chatuchak Market take the BTS Skytrain Sukhumvit Line all the way to the appropriately named end station “Mo Chit” and you’re there. It’s also accessible via the Kamphaengphet station of the MRT Bangkok Metro Blue Line.
We’ve been told by locals that it is hard to go into Chatuchak Market looking for a specific item in a specific stall. It is best to just wander around and look and eventually, you will likely find what you are looking for. Before you go for the first time, try to get a hold of a map (available online) which will show the general location of different types of items.
There are some shops that have fixed prices but in general, bargaining is the rule at Chatuchak Market.
There are lots of food options at the market including a few air conditioned restaurants as well has hundreds of food stalls. We ate at one of the places with a/c on a real hot day on our last trip there and it was a bit of a mad house. We had to wedge our way into the door and just grab a table as someone else was leaving it.If you are looking for cast metal or stone statuary, you should find your way to the Tha Chang Day Market. We’ve also seen this referred to as simply “the amulet market.” There are several amulet markets around the city but this one is the best. The easiest way to get there is to take the Express River Boat to the Tha Chang Pier, which is the same pier you would use if you were going to the Grand Palace. Once you exit the boat ramp, head out thru the pier market and once on the street, turn left. Just steer to the left when you reach the corner and you are on Maharat Road.
Within a block or two, you’ll start to see small street side venders selling small old and new amulets. Some of these stalls are nothing more than a blanket on the ground. There are also lots of second-hand stores selling all sorts of merchandise in this area. These are interesting but not what we tend to be looking for. As you continue down Maharat Road, you will notice alleys and small streets going to the left. That’s where you want to go. Turn down one of those and start exploring.
While you won’t know where you’re going, it’s impossible to get lost. You’re no more than a long block from the river and in fact can see the river from the back of the market. As you explore these small streets and alleys you’ll come to vendors selling all sorts of statuary from bigger than life size carved stone and wood Buddha’s, other deities and animals to cast metal pieces that are small enough to go into your luggage to resin amulets that will fit in your pocket. Like at Chatuchak, you’ll want to bargain for the best price here.
Chinatown is another place we like to shop in Bangkok. Traffic can be pretty awful in Chinatown so the Express River Boat is a good option for travel here too. Take a boat to the Memorial Bridge Pier. Take a left when you get off the pier and then the first right and about a block up the road you should find yourself in the largest flower market in Bangkok. Best selections will be available early in the morning but this is a nice place to look around at just about any time of the day. There is also a large produce and fish market in the same area. The workers in these market areas including the butchers and fish mongers with their stores on dark alleys are typically very friendly.
If you Google for “Bangkok Chinatown walking tour” you’ll find quite a few options, some including maps with more details on directions but a few blocks in the same general direction you should be able to find “Old Siam Plaza”, a multi-level old style Asian shopping center. You’ll find a large food court, where we have eaten as well as lots of stalls selling just about anything you can think of including food, drinks, t-shirts, shoes, jewelry, ceramics, textiles and all sorts of souvenirs. If you walk around on the 2nd floor you’ll also find some tailors that can custom make clothes but these are not the typical 1-day service shops so you will need to allow for a few days. When it comes to the t-shirts and other souvenirs, a lot of the stalls are selling the exact same things so again you’ll want to bargain.
Nearby Old Siam, you’ll find Pahurat, aka Little India. This is one of the best sources in the city for colorful textiles by the yard in all fabrics. It’s fun to explore the alleys in this area if you’re looking for those gauzy white shirts and tops, sandals and all things Indian.
Also in Chinatown you’ll find scores of jewelry shops specializing in the gold trade. We’ve walked into some of these stores to browse (and on one particularly hot day to take advantage of their typically cool a/c) but never bought anything in them.
This is not really a shopping venue but located in Chinatown (and included in one walking tour we took there) you will find Wat Mangkon Kamalawat, the largest and oldest Chinese Buddhist Temple in Bangkok. It is not too very much further off the river than Old Siam just off Charoenkrung Road. The Temple was built in the classic Chinese style with dragons and guardians and tiled roofs. As you enter, you can’t help but notice the heavy haze of burining incense in the air. There is a main hall where a large Buddha is displayed but if you wander around you’ll see shrines to other Chinese religious deities.