Whether you want to sing along to live music at a night market, cruise through the canals of a floating market, taste amazing cheap Thai dishes at a street food market, or watch a train pass right through the centre of the mind-boggling railway market, you’ll find what you’re looking for in one of the many Bangkok markets. Plus, they’re a great way to get in touch with the real, local vibe of a city and save you some money on food, fashion and more.
So what are the best markets in Bangkok? We’ve rounded up our ten favourites, including a few lesser known gems to help you get off the beaten track.
Bang Nam Pheung Floating Market
Bang Nam Pheung Floating Market is not on the usual tourist itinerary, but is a favourite amongst the city’s hip expat crowd. Located on the “Lungs of Bangkok” aka the lush island of Bang Krachao, this is one of Bangkok’s best markets. You can browse handmade goods and a huge range of Thai foods at a leisurely pace, as you criss-cross the series of small canals that dissect the market.
It’s best to arrive early here – the market opens at 8am as it’s all over by 3pm. Once you’ve loaded up on street food, you can rent a bicycle for just 70 Thai Baht and cycle through the surrounding villages on Bang Krachao. You’ll be blown away by this little known side of the city, which will transport you back to a Bangkok of 50 years ago.
Srinakarin Rot Fai Night Market
If you’re a fan of vintage cars, unusual antiques and hipster bars with live Thai bands, then this is the place for you. The road leading into the market is crammed with fun looking bars and small restaurants, however don’t stop here because this place is big. Head further into the market to discover a huge assortment of Thai foods, ramshackle clothing shops and well restored vintage cars and motorbikes.
The Rot Fai Night Market Srinakarin is located just behind Paradise Park shopping center and is open Thursday night to Sunday night every week. Taxi is the best way to get here as there is limited public transport in this area of Bangkok. A taxi from Onnut or Prakanong BTS should cost around £2.30. Remember to go by the meter, not a flat rate.
Ko Kret Market
Ko Kret is another manmade island on the Chao Phraya River, located just north of Bangkok in the neighboring Nonthaburi Province. Walking or cycling around the island counter clockwise from the ferry pier will take you through a local riverside market. This market is famous for its handmade pottery, and you’ll find plenty of tasty Thai foods and traditional desserts here too.
The best way to reach Ko Kret Market is by taxi. It’ll take around 30-45 minutes from central Bangkok and cost about £7, making it the most economical option if you have a small group to split the fare. The tourist boat no longer runs from Saphan Taksin to Ko Kret, so alternative transport options are limited.
After lunch continue your way around the island to explore the outer Bangkok village lifestyle. Be sure to keep an eye out for the Chit Brewery. This is one of Bangkok’s best microbreweries, offering a chilled outdoor seating area right by the Chao Phraya River.
Maeklong Railway Market
Think of a market sprawled all over a narrow train track, heavily covered by umbrellas. Then a train sounds its horn and within minutes the entire market has been momentarily packed away. This is the Maeklong Railway Market, one of Thailand’s most unique attractions. The stalls mostly sell fresh fruits and seafood, which will really only interest locals. However there are some good restaurants and cafes around the area, and of course the main attraction is to see the train glide right through the middle of the market.
The Maeklong Railway market is located in Samut Songkhram province, a short distance from the Amapwha Floating market. Consider combining these two destinations for a great day trip out of the centre of Bangkok. The best way to get here is minivan from Bangkok’s Southern bus terminal which costs £1.60 per person one way and takes about 1.5 hours.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
The Chatuchak Weekend Market is one of the best markets in Bangkok, and popular with locals and travellers alike. You can buy just about anything here, from fruit-shaped soaps to handcrafted furniture, gorgeous vintage clothes and traditional Thai ceramics. Be sure to check out the second hand area where you can find a huge range of seconds clothing brought in over the Cambodian and Laos boarders. You’ll be sure to pick up a few bargains here. Little known to most visitors, there is actually an extensive artist section hidden by the entrance of the market on the Mo Chit side. Head through the small shops selling homewares to discover a wide range of paintings and odd sculptures for sale at backpacker prices.
The Chatuchak Weekend Market is located just by Mo Chit BTS station and is open on Saturday and Sunday only. During the summer it gets pretty hot around midday, so plan on arriving earlier to make the day more enjoyable.
Ratchada Rot Fai Night Market
The Ratchada Rot Fai Market is similar to the Srinakarin Rot Fai Market but is more focused on bars and food. Expect to see a huge range of bars offering live music, cheap towers of beer and bottles of Thai whiskey. Think of this place as being the Thai version of Khao San Road, yet cheaper, better and open way later.
The Ratchada Rot Fai Market is located behind the Esplanade Shopping Center on Ratchadapisek Road. To get here take the MRT (underground line) and get off at the Thailand Cultural Center station. The market opens at around 6pm Thursday to Sunday, and continues on well after midnight.
Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market
Tucked away in the outlying district of Taling Chan, this is one of Bangkok’s most authentic markets. The Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market is a much quieter alternative to the popular Ampawha Floating market and mainly attracts locals. After exploring the market and having a huge lunch, be sure to hop on board a longtail boat. These traditional Thai boats will take you through the canals for an hour, and are a great way to see Bangkok’s riverside communities.
The Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market is a weekend market open from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm. The best way to get here is by taking the BTS to Wong Wian Yai station. From here you’ll need to take a 15-minute taxi ride to the market, which should cost £3.40.
Khlong Toei Fresh Market
Khlong Toei Market is the largest fresh market in Bangkok. Here you can buy anything from chickens to frogs and vegetables to haircuts. The area surrounding Khlong Teoy is one of the poorest in Bangkok, so be prepared to see a different side to the city.
Khlong Teoy Market is located by the intersection of Rama 3 and Rama 4. The best way to get here is by taxi, which shouldn’t cost more than £2.30 from the upper Sukhumvit area. Alternatively you can take a 30-minute walk from the nearest BTS station, which is Asok.
Damnoen Saduak Floating Market
The Damnoen Sadauk Floating Market is another very popular Bangkok market in the Samut Songkhram Province, about 1.5 hrs from central Bangkok. It makes for a great day trip from Bangkok and can easily be combined with a trip to the Ampawha Floating Market and the Maeklong Railway Market.
The canals around the market are filled with small boats selling goods such as fresh fruit, flowers and BBQ seafood. The market is a great location for taking some photos, however be cautious of taking a canal ride on a boat here as prices are often way overstated.
Pak Khlong Flower Market
This oh-so-Instagrammable Bangkok market is located along the eastern bank of the Chao Phraya River. As the name suggests, this vibrant and colorful market is all about the flowers. Visit early straight after breakfast to see the market in full swing, as local hotels, florists and other business jostle for the freshest blooms. If you’re not a morning person, the market is actually open 24 hours, and can also be a pretty cool place to visit in the evening. The flowers here are crazily cheap, and the smell in this place is unforgettable.
The best way to get to the Pak Khlong Flower Market is by taking the boat from Saphan Taksin to Saphan Phut, followed by a short walk. The market is located close by the Wang Lung Market and can be easily combined to make a fun half day trip.
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About the Author
Josh Shephard is a long term traveler turned Bangkok expat. He makes regular adventures throughout Asia and explores a whole lot of Bangkok in between. Get tips on how to travel Thailand better, further and more uniquely on his Asia travel blog The Lost Passport and be sure to follow on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for regular updates.