09 Aug Five of Thailand’s must visit markets
Five of Thailand’s must visit markets
A shopper’s paradise, many visitors to Thailand allow plenty of time on their itinerary to immerse themselves into the night, weekend and floating markets that the country is renowned for, indulging in delicious meals, searching for the latest fashion items at affordable prices, and seeking out a souvenir or gift to take home; all the while knowing that the purchase of their newfound treasure is going towards supporting the local community, making it a win-win situation for all.
Wherever you are staying, there will be a market to find, just ask your hotel to guide you there, but if you’re planning your itinerary around the shopping opportunities, these are five of Thailand’s most amazing markets.
Ayothaya Floating Market, Ayutthaya
This floating market is one of the largest tourist sites in and around Ayutthaya province. Purpose built to help preserve and promote Thai arts and culture, while offering visitors to this popular region the convenience to shop, eat and explore, it covers an area of over 60 acres and you could spend the whole day here, or simply select one focus area to explore.
All the way around the floating market is a walkway that leads to various shops selling local products, crafts, toys, memorabilia, antiques and gorgeous clothing. Not to mention the food and beverage options, whether it is chicken, salad, noodles or steamed seafood or fresh fruit, you’ll find what you’re looking for here. Even a Thai ruby, if your budget allows.
Some of the shops are set up in the food zone, while others sell from the boats that line the water. This market is particular popular with the Thai local tourists too, which gives you the added pleasure of observing their delight at the goods on sale. In the center is the most traditional section, where small meals are cooked on boats and served to customers sitting on decks next to them. You can even take a boat ride on the water to get a real feel for the tradition and buy your meal from one boat, to the next.
Address: Phai Ling, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya
Open: Everyday from 10am to 9pm
Ban Mai Market, Chachoengsao
Chinese settlers founded the Ban Mai Market in Chachoengsao, a province in south central Thailand an hour and a half east of Bangkok, more than 100 years ago. The original architecture remains intact, with charming old teak houses and a lovely promenade along the Bang Pakong River. As you walk around the stalls, sun filters through the high-ceiling roofs giving a glow of natural light, setting it apart from the many markets lit with fluorescent light. Restaurants and food vendors cook with firewood and the market is well known for its local noodles and Thai and Chinese specialties.
The market is very popular and abuzz with visitors on Saturdays and Sundays, but somewhat quieter on a Friday, and offers a well-preserved glimpse of traditional town life and an opportunity to taste a selection of Thai and Chinese delicacies that the area is known for, and that are not widely available to tourists. Look out for the famous for Leng Hok Yee shrine with its impressive papier-mâché sculptures while there.
Address: Banmai Rd., Ban Mai, Muang Chachoengsao, Chachoengsao Province
Open: Weekends and Public Holidays from 8am to 6pm
Cicada Market, Hua Hin
Cicada Market was created with the specific purpose of connecting artists, designers, tourists and the community through assimilating culture and arts with local Thai lifestyle. As an art market, Cicada is the place to visit for handmade goods, designer clothing, collectable secondhand clothing, art and jewellery. Open every Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the atmosphere here is enhanced by sparkling decorations in the beautiful garden and many trees that line the shopping outlets and eateries, as well as the live performances and art exhibitions.
The market is divided into four zones: Art A La Mode with local vendors from Bangkok and surrounds offering their fashion items in beautiful fabrics, one-of-a-kind home accessories and clothes using motifs from traditional Thai sarongs. The two white buildings in the center of the market make up the Cicada Art Factory, which gives young artists a space to display and sell their original artworks. While the Amphitheatre was designed to educate and entertain visitors, and provides a stage for bands, dance troupes and theatre groups.
The food zone is called Cicada Cuisine and here visitors can choose from a wide variety of local and international dishes such as grilled seafood, pork satay, Pad Thai, Fried Mussels and various rice-based dishes, as well as American and Italian pasta dishes. This is certainly a market for lovers of art and design to visit.
Address: Cicada Market, Khao Takieb, Hua Hin
Open: Friday to Sunday, from 4pm to 10pm.
Hua Hin Night Market, Hua Hun
Situated in the Hua Hin centre between the Petchkasem Road and the railway line, the market is basically one street that comes to life each evening when traders line the street with their stalls selling clothing, souvenirs, art, CDs, DVDS and affordable delicious food.
Walking the night market is a thrilling experience in itself, and every visitor to Thailand should find one to experience, as you can get a good grasp of local culture while soaking up the atmosphere and speaking to the various vendors, taking a close look at the wares they have on sale.
Most of the restaurants double as bars and you can enjoy a beer or cocktail while walking the street. This market is renowned for it’s seafood and you’ll find many different restaurants serving beautiful lobster and prawns. If you’re struggling to decide what to order, given how affordable it all is, the ice trays heavily laden with the day’s catch should guide your decision.
Address: 1, Soi Sa Song, Hua Hin 72 Road, Hua Hin, Hua Hin, Prachuap Khirikhan 77110
Open: Daily from 18h30 to late.
Chatuchak Market, Bangkok
No market experience in Thailand matches time at Chatuchak in Bangkok, one of the world’s largest weekend markets it covers an area of almost 11 hectares divided into 27 sections that contain more than 8000 stands selling goods sourced from all over Thailand. Easy to access with numerous modes of transport servicing the route, the market was once only popular among wholesalers and traders, but today has reached landmark status as a tourist attraction and sees over 200 000 visitors each weekend.
You will find just about everything for sale here, and at the best bargain rates. Given the daunting size and proportion, first-time visitors will be pleased to know that there is a system to help you navigate your way around with one main walkway circling the entire market, with alleyways branching off into the various sections. There is also a map you could use, but perhaps the best way is to just pick a starting point and follow your instincts, while enjoying the experience and keeping your eyes open to bargains and treasures.
Among the goods you’ll find on sale are clothing and accessories, plants and gardening tools, antiques and collectibles, ceramics and baskets, books and artware and an incredible selection of food and beverage. If you’re in Bangkok over a weekend, do yourself a favour and get there.
Address: Kamphaeng Phet 2 Road, Chatuchak, Bangkok
Open: Friday to Sunday, from 6am to 6pm
Useful Tip: For all of these markets bring cash as most vendors do not accept credit cards and it can be a long walk to the nearest ATM.