Mention Bangkok and the Chatuchak Weekend Market almost immediately comes to mind! Not only is it the largest market in Thailand, but it's also the largest open-air market in Asia ? With over 10,000 stalls spread out over more than 25 sections, this huge shopping haven might be a little overwhelming to navigate.
Well, don't you worry! We've prepared a guide to help you explore Chatuchak like a pro and we got many of these useful tips from our readers ? Whether it's your first time or you've been there countless times, this is one handy guide you'll want to have for your next visit to Chatuchak!
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1. Getting there
If you're heading to Chatuchak via public transport, you can get there by taking the BTS Sukhumvit Line to Mo Chit and follow the crowd to the nearest entrance which is Gate 2. If you're taking the underground MRT, you can choose to alight at Chatuchak Park or Kamphaeng Phet Stations. Chatuchak Park is located right where BTS Mo Chit is and once you alight at Kampaeng Phet, you'll enter Chatuchak through Gate 1.
Throngs of tourists and locals will be alighting at BTS Mo Chit and the queue to buy one-trip tickets will be snaking during peak hours. We recommend getting the BTS Rabbit Card so you can just tap in and out of the station without having to queue! A less crowded option is to take the MRT to Chatuchak. It also helps to plan your route and know which gate you'd want to head to (more on this later).
2. Be prepared for the heat and crowd
You've probably heard about how hot it can get in Chatuchak! It's not just the heat and humidity of Bangkok in general but it can get really crowded at times too. Well, there's no way to avoid the heat and crowd but there are ways to better prepare yourself. A lot of our readers recommended wearing breathable materials of clothes such as lightweight cotton, linen or dri-fit as these absorb moisture and dry quickly too. As you'll be walking around a lot, remember to wear comfortable shoes!
To protect yourself from the heat, don't forget to put on your sunscreen and bring a portable fan to keep you cool. Bring an umbrella if you must (it's good for the rain too ?) and most importantly, drink lots and lots of water.
P.S. Need more tips? Here are 30 useful hacks to stay cool while travelling
If you're looking to escape the sun completely, head to Chatuchak on a Friday night instead! Though only about half of the market is open (sections 8-26), rest assured you can still get your shopping done and here's when clothes are sold at wholesale prices. That means you can get amazing discounts on clothes although you need to get three or more products – perfect for you and your travel buddies! Shops are set up from 9pm and they open till the wee hours of the morning. The recommended time to go is around 11pm and we recommend staying even later as there'll be fewer people too.
Credit: Teya, private tour guide on Facebook
Another key thing is to travel as light as possible. We feel you - when travelling, you might have the tendency to bring a lot of things in your daily bag but our advice is to keep those to a minimum. If you do need to bring a lot of things, we suggest depositing them at the lockers at MRT Kamphaeng Phet and Chatuchak Park stations. Locker rental prices start from THB20 and there are different sizes, even those that are suitable for luggage.
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3. Arrive early
The key to beating the crowd is to arrive early. The market opens at 9am and although not all shops will be opened so early, this gives you time to familiarise with the place especially before it gets too crowded at around 11. The weather in the morning is also more pleasant. By the time you’re done doing your rounds, you'll be having your lunch and escaping the midday sun! You can also take this as the time to recharge and decide if you want to continue shopping.
In fact, there's another perk of arriving early. According to some of our readers, many Thai stall owners believe that if you're the first customer of the day, you'll bring them good luck and you might even get a discount ? Whether or not this is true for all stall owners, we say why not give it a try? Chances are if you're one of the first few customers, you'll have an easier time bargaining with stall owners too.
4. Research and plan your shopping route well
To help you plan your trip to Chatuchak better, it also helps to do your research in advance and plan your shopping route so you won’t need to walk around aimlessly when you visit.
Credit: Chatuchak Official Website
There are many maps of Chatuchak online (like this one above from Chatuchak's official website
) which will mark out the different sections of the market and tell you what is sold in each section so you know exactly where to go. Alternatively, you can get a free map from one of the information kiosks at Chatuchak.
It’s not a stretch to say that you CAN find everything at Chatuchak, from the latest fashion trends to pre-loved items, home decorations and more. Here's a guide on what you can find in each section:
- Clothing and accessories: Sections 2–6, 10–26
- Food and beverage: Sections 2, 3, 4, 23, 24, 26, 27
- Miscellaneous and used clothing: Sections 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 22, 25, 26
- Antiques and collectables: Sections 1, 26
- Furniture and home decor: Sections 1,3,4,7,8
- Handicrafts: Sections 8–11
- Books: Sections 1, 27
- Art and galleries: Section 7
- Ceramics: Sections 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 25
- Plants and gardening: Sections 3, 4
- Pets and accessories: Sections 8, 9, 11, 13
*Do note that this is just a general guide and some stalls might not fall into these categories.
A lot of our readers told us that it helps to remember the entrance gates and know the landmarks or distinct shops near the gates so you can find your way out of the market or you can ask someone for help to exit the market.
Credit: Chatuchak Weekend Market jjweekendmarket on Facebook
If you're travelling in a group of friends or with family and need to split up, then make sure you set a meeting point. We recommend using the Chatuchak Clock Tower as a landmark! It's a very prominent tower and you can spot it from any corner of Chatuchak.
P.S. Find out more Bangkok tips with these 7 insider hacks
5. Allocate enough time and bring cash
Once you've done your research and planned your route, it's time to go shopping! Remember to allocate enough time for Chatuchak as you'd have to factor in the huge number of shops (you'd want to compare prices between shops), jostling through the crowd and rest stops in between. We suggest spending at least half a day there but if you're planning on revamping your whole wardrobe, then you'd probably need a full day ?
Another important tip that we can't stress enough is to bring lots and lots of cash! You might think that you're only going to do a little shopping but it's always good to have spare cash. Not many shops accept credit or debit cards and while there are plans to make the market cashless, cash is still widely preferred. There are ATMs but the exchange rate might not be in your favour.
6. Top things to buy
With so many shops and items to buy, you might be asking yourself what you should be getting at this massive market! Here are some things you shouldn't miss at Chatuchak:
Snacks and drinks Credit: @_puteriamira on Instagram
The best part about Thai markets is that you can get your fill of street food and of course, you'd expect no less at Chatuchak! Of course, what better way to start than by savouring some refreshing coconut ice-cream
or Thai milk tea.
Then continue your dessert trail with mango sticky rice
or Thai red ruby
dessert. Yes, you can get them at any other markets in Thailand but trust us, it's better in the heat!
Credit: @iattto on Instagram
One interesting dessert that you'll find here is ice popsicles
! Priced at only THB5, they come in different flavours from coke to mirinda, sprite and even Thai milk tea - this is definitely a treat you can't resist. If you prefer something healthier, then stop by at one of the many fruit shops around Chatuchak for some cut fruits or fruit shakes ?
Credit: Carmen TheQueen on Facebook
Need something more filling? Then take your pick from a range of Muslim-friendly snacks like rotee
(Thai crepe pancake with your choice of toppings), Thai fish cakes
, grilled seafood
, fried quail eggs
, toasted thick bread
(with various toppings), khaonom bueang
(Thai crispy pancakes with coconut cream and shredded coconut) and more.
Even though the snacks listed here might not contain animal derivatives or alcohol on their own, do check with stall owners if they use any animal-based ingredients in preparing the snacks. As these stalls aren't halal-certified most of the time, we advise you to dine at your own discretion.
Clothes and accessoriesCredit: Chatuchak Weekend Market jjweekendmarket on Facebook
One of the things that's really affordable at Chatuchak is clothes, accessories and other fashion items. With so many choices to choose from, you can definitely snag a good deal that's probably cheaper than those in other markets. If you're looking for the latest fashion trends, we recommend heading to section 2 where you'll find plenty of small boutique shops run by independent Thai designers and prices of t-shirts or blouses usually start from THB100 or less. If you're a fan of cartoon or anime, then you'll be happy to know that there are graphic t-shirts but if you prefer something more minimalistic, rest assured there are shops selling basic or simple printed t-shirts that are perfect for any occasion. You can find dress shirts or more formal shirts here too and they usually cost from THB200-250 and above. There are plenty of shops selling footwear too - from casual slippers to rattan sandals and shoes. If you'd like some accessories, then take your pick from a variety of bracelets, watches, belts and hats.
For those of you who want high-quality international brands but at cheaper prices, then head over to section 5 and 6 for used clothing, and this includes lots of denim! And denim always go well with almost anything ? Looking for pre-loved sneakers and shoes? You can get them here too - there are a variety of brands from Converse to Dr. Maartens, and they are usually much cheaper than what you'll get elsewhere.
Bags and pouchesCredit: Kristal Mae Gonzales Magdael on Facebook
You'll see a lot of shops selling bags and pouches in different unique designs, though most of them are elephant-themed. If you're looking for something inexpensive for everyday use, there are a variety of drawstring bags, haversack and tote bags that you can choose from and prices start from just THB170. Another thing that we love about these shops is that they sell pouches in various designs and sizes too, and they cost from THB10 ? Not only are they useful to store money and other knick-knacks, but they also make perfect gifts for your loved ones back home.
Thai-themed souvenirsCredit: Thararat Shop - Thailand on Facebook
Of course, if you only have time for one market during your trip and need to get some souvenirs, don't worry, Chatuchak has them too! From the typical keychains, magnets, Thai-themed t-shirts and totes, you can also up your souvenir-buying game by getting some Thai handicrafts made by artisans themselves. Head over to section 2 to get these souvenirs!
Home decor itemsCredit: Chatuchak Weekend Market jjweekendmarket on Facebook
This is something you don't normally find at other markets in Thailand but here's where you can get items to decorate your home too! From hipster lamps to cushion covers, wooden storage boxes, vases, flowers, kitchenware and more, now you know just where to go if you're revamping your house.
Other interesting itemsCredit: @bkk_sawaddee on Instagram
Beyond just fashion and home items, you can also shop for something different at Chatuchak with plenty of shops selling carved and scented soaps, Thai scents and essential oils, antiques, vintage collectables, local Thai coffee beans and the list goes on. The best part is, every corner you turn, you might see something that interests you ?
7. Halal eateries and prayer space
We'd like to think of Chatuchak as an all-in-one shopping destination and it's probably right because you can find halal eateries and a prayer space here too! If you need to refuel and finding a lunch stop, here are some of the halal options you can choose from:
What could be better than indulging in a comforting bowl of beef noodles accompanied by a side of freshly prepared Thai fishcakes after a long day of braving the sweltering heat at Chatuchak Market?
Credit: @gugeorg3 on Instagram
Saman Islam sits right smack in the heart of Chatuchak and it's the best for a meal, with everything from spicy tom yum to crispy fried chicken! The crab fried rice comes with copious amounts of crab meat too ?
Credit: @zhanazulkifli on Instagram
The restaurant is always packed with tourists. Although dishes here are a bit on the pricier side, the eatery has an extensive menu and huge serving portions to boot. If you’re famished and in the mood for hearty, yummy food then this is the place to go!
Section 16, Soi 24
Sat - Sun, 9am-7pm
+66 81 817 8270
Saman Islam is located right in front of the Chatuchak clock tower. Be sure to look out for the halal sign!
Just down the road from Saman is Kah Jak, an unassuming halal eatery which exudes a homely feel. The eatery may be small but they have a wide variety of dishes from green and red curries to tom yum, fried rice, beef noodles, fried fish and more.
Credit: @tilljanna on Instagram
Some of the recommended dishes here are the pad thai and beef green curry. The seafood tom yum packs a punch too! Not to mention that prices are reasonable ?
Section 18, Soi 25/8
Sat – Sun, hours are unspecified but it should be the same as Chatuchak’s opening hours from around 9am – 7pm
Madenah Halal Noodle FoodCredit: @nur_fitri on Instagram
Still undecided where to go for lunch? Here's another halal eatery to satisfy your cravings for tom yum and pad thai. They also serve Thai stewed beef noodle soup and tom yum noodles if you're looking for a change of cuisine. The stall is located right in front of the prayer room.
Section 18, No.7, Soi 26/8
Sat – Sun, hours are unspecified but it should be the same as Chatuchak’s opening hours from around 9am – 7pm
P.S. Finding more halal food in Bangkok? Here are 23 halal eateries in Bangkok sorted by popular shopping areas
Prayer space: Credit: Rumah Bajet Siti Kuantan on Facebook
If you need to do your prayers, Chatuchak has a prayer room too and it's gender-segregated. It's located at Section 27 and you'd have to spot TMB Bank first, walk past behind it and turn left. The wudhu area is outside and we recommend that you bring your own prayer garments.
Section 27, Soi 68/1 (behind TMB Bank and Military Police Office)
8. Prepare to bargain and compare prices
If there's one thing that you need to know before heading to Chatuchak, it's that you need to bargain to get the best prices. As many shops will probably sell the same types of item, you'll need to compare prices between various shops and decide where you should buy from. This also increases your chances for bargaining with the shop owner because they know they have competitors out there. One rule of the thumb when bargaining is to split the price in half first then slowly negotiate with the stall owner till you're both happy with the price. If all else fails, just walk away and the stall owner might give you the price you want ? But of course, in all situations, try to be firm but friendly!
Although bargaining and comparing prices is important, it doesn't need to happen all the time because it can be rather time-consuming. A lot of our readers said that if you see something that you like, don't hesitate to buy it as you might never find the shop again after doing your rounds. So, use your judgment and decide if it's something worth bargaining for. In most cases, you'll get a discount of THB10-50 or a little more, and that's really not too bad either.
9. Bring your own shopping bag
To make your shopping experience more enjoyable, bring your own shopping bag or a backpack to store all your buys! Not only will this minimise the number of plastic bags you carry after all that shopping, but you'll get to save the environment too.
10. Beware of pickpockets
Although Bangkok is generally quite a safe city, it's always better to be safe than sorry. As there are many people at Chatuchak, petty theft does happen so you have to be aware of your surroundings and look out for pickpockets! One important tip is to NOT put your wallet in your back pocket and stay vigilant. If you're carrying a backpack or sling bag, make sure it's in front of you so you won't be the target of any pickpockets. If you're carrying a handbag, we recommend putting on a strap and slinging it in front of you.
If you need tips on what bags to get, here are 10 stylish and functional crossbody bags to suit all your travel needs
Chatuchak Weekend MarketAddress:
สวนจตุจักร Kamphaeng Phet 2 Rd, Khwaeng Chatuchak, Khet Chatuchak, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10900, Thailand
Fri, 9pm-7am (next day), Sat-Sun, 9am-6pm
We hope these 10 tips will be useful for your exploration of Chatuchak Weekend Market! Now, you're all set to explore Thailand's largest open-air market like a pro ? Time for a trip to Bangkok and remember to SHARE this with your travel buddies!