Bangkok is famous for its glitzy shopping malls that oftentimes sit like pearls on a string along parts of the inner city. But where do you go when the malls close at 10pm or when your shopping fancy calls for something else than international high street brands and endless franchises?
The answer is the night markets. An all year mild climate and the entrepreneurial spirit of the Thais is the perfect recipe for bustling night markets offering everything a shopper could wish for – and plenty more. The markets offer an incredible range of goods and products, food and snacks, antiques and collectibles and some even have decent entertainment as well.
Some famous and popular markets have closed, perhaps most notably Suan Lum Night Bazaar, which sat on the corner of Wireless road and Rama IV for years, and the widely popular Talad Rod Fai in Bangkok’s Chatuchak area, which was closed to make space for new high speed train tracks (fortunately, the market has moved, more on that later). Below are some of the best places to go shopping after dark. Some are small, some take up huge swathes of land; some cater to tourists, some fly under the radar.
Asiatique the Riverfront
A night bazaar, a mall and a riverfront location – what’s not to like? This theme-heavy shopping district is the perfect place to take in the beautiful Chao Phraya river while at the same time doing a bit of shopping. The spread very much caters to tourists so if you’re looking to buy the perfect Thai silk scarf for your mum or a pair of Thai boxing gloves for your brother, you have come to the right place. In fact there are more than 1,500 shops to choose from, making this one of the largest night markets in Bangkok, as well as several restaurants serving everything from authentic Thai food and Western comfort food. When you’re done shopping, head to the popular nightly Calypso ladyboy cabaret show or the classic Thai puppet performance.
Talad Rot Fai (Train Market)
This massive market on the western skirts of the city is sometimes referred to as Talad Rot Fai 2, due to the fact that it is the revival of the original Talad Rot Fai in the north of the city, which closed in 2013. The lure of the original market was the rows upon rows of one-off items and collectibles like old toys and antique furniture and luckily most of the vendors from the old market have set up stall at the new market as well.
Talad Rot Fai is divided into different sections, such as the ‘Market Zone’, ‘Warehouse Zone’ and ‘Rod’s Antiques’, the latter of which houses said antique stalls. There are plenty of other things too, including second hand clothes, shoes and accessories, old CD’s and vinyl, cameras and even classic cars and motorbikes. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, make your way to the food sections where you can munch on typical snacks and street food such as sausages, satays, salads and sweets.
Talad Rot Fai has become so popular that a second location on Ratchada Road opened in the beginning of 2015. Smaller in size than the one on Srinakarin Road, Talad Rot Fai Ratchada offers the same retro vibe and eclectic collection of things.
When the vendors start to pack down their stalls at Chatuchak Weekend Market, activity levels increase at JJ Green, located not far away. Run by the owner of the now-closed Ratchada Night Market (not to be confused with Talad Rot Fai Ratchada), JJ Green is a low key night market with a relaxed vibe and some decidedly quirky shops. There is a focus on out-of-production automobile parts but people without an interest in cars will also find something to suit their tastes, like the sizeable cassette and vinyl collection or the retro lamp shops. In the middle of the market is a covered square lined on all sides with food stalls serving everything from fresh seafood and spicy salads to french fries and sunday ice creams.
- Asiatique the Riverfront is located on Charoen Krung Road in the former docks of the East Asiatic Company. Regular shuttle boats run between the shopping district and Saphan Taksin BTS station. Open daily from 5pm.
- Talad Rot Fai is located on Srinakarin Road Soi 51, just behind the Seacon Square Shopping Mall. The closest BTS station is On Nut but you will still need to take a taxi from there. Open Thursday to Sunday from sunset to midnight. Talad Rot Fai Ratchada is located on Ratchadapisek Road a few minutes walk from Thailand Cultural Centre and the Esplanade Shopping mall. The closest MRT station is Thailand Cultural Centre MRT.
- JJ Green is located on Kamphaeng Phet Soi 3. The closest public transport is Mo Chit BTS station or Chatuchak Park MRT. Open from Thursday to Sunday from 5pm to midnight.