Your Guide to Savvy Street Shopping in Bangkok

Kiran Khanijow , 13 Aug 2013
Shopping in Bangkok
Shopping in Bangkok

Many people consider Bangkok shopper’s paradise, with its fancy retail outlets and easy access to high end international brands. Equally exciting, however, is the city’s street shopping; I’ve lived here all my life and still discover new street shops all the time. Here’s my guide to savvy street shopping at the three best street markets for the next time you visit the city of angels.

Sampheng
Sampheng
A delicacy for the daring
A delicacy for the daring

Before you splash your cash and indulge in some serious retail therapy, remember these two tips:

1. Maintain your limits while you bargain. Bargaining is absolutely necessary but vendors get frustrated when the customer doesn’t know when to stop. State your price or meet them in the middle. This way you can part with your dignity intact and move on.

2. Be careful of pickpockets. These places are generally overcrowded and your purse can be ripped off with a knife in seconds, without you even realizing it. Be extra cautious, but don’t worry – you can still have a great time at these markets with a little extra vigilance.

Swimwear
Swimwear
Sampheng Girlie Things
Sampheng Girlie Things

1. CHATUCHAK WEEKEND MARKET

This market is massive. Open only on Saturdays and Sundays, it is by far the most popular market in Bangkok. It boasts everything under the sun. Vintage and trendy clothing, gorgeous showpieces, furniture, Persian carpets, even exotic pets like owls and snakes. And the best part, these are all available at ridiculously reasonable prices. If you choose to walk here, make sure you plan ahead and enter from the section that interests you, or you might find yourself wandering around for hours. Make sure you try the Thai iced tea (Cha nom yen) but beware – despite the numerous food stalls, eateries and juice bars, you won’t find a single bin in sight, so be prepared to carry your cup!

A swanky pub on Khao san road
A swanky pub on Khao San road
It’s all delicious when you’re starving
It’s all delicious when you’re starving

2. KHAO SAN ROAD

Originally a major rice market, this famous road has come a long way. Twenty years later, it has developed into a backpacker’s haven. Famous for its cheap accommodation, here you will get anything that fits in your backpack. Pirated cds, casual clothing, swimsuits, croacking ornaments, accessories and more. The road also consists of pubs, restaurants and food stalls. The selection of food here is interesting to say the least. You will get delicious pad thai, plain rice with omelette and ketchup (so simple, yet so good when you’re hungry), sweet roti, and fried bugs. Yes, fried bugs for the daring. Eating fried insects is on the priority list for many who come to Bangkok. All sorts of creatures are sold on these push carts. Grasshoppers, ants, worms, and crickets are just some of items on offer. Scorpions are a rare delicacy that can only be found at certain times of the year. The best time to walk on this road is in the evening.

Puppies for Sale
Puppies for Sale
A crowded street in Sampheng
A crowded street in Sampheng

3. SAMPHENG MARKET

This is the oldest district in Thailand and definitely not for claustrophobic. It is near pahurat (little India) and one of the most popular places to buy wholesale products. The street is always busy and you will definitely get pushed here. This market is filled with dried fruits and nuts, gift shops, children’s toys and clothing, wrapping paper, artificial flowers, blankets, towels, jewelry, buttons, lace and fabric. This is the place to buy five pairs of sarongs to take back home as gifts. Prices here are dirt cheap and probably unheard of in the rest of Bangkok.

Do you have a favorite Bangkok street market? Let me know and happy shopping!

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