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When spending any significant amount of time in the bustling metropolis that is Bangkok, it can be hard to wonder just what life was like before the shopping malls and skyscrapers. Fortunately, there are several windows into the past, in the form of the many night markets and street bazaars you can find all over the city. From vintage markets selling antiques to markets inside shopping centres selling beauty products, Bangkok’s markets offer up a slice of the real Thailand, mixing the past with the future to provide a present in every sense of the word. Here are the best of them.
A hipster paradise, the Rod Fai market is the best place in town to find all things vintage and retro. From shiny Cadillacs to beatnik jackets, it’s a trendy shopping alternative to usual tourist hotspots like Khao San Road, and offers a chance to buy one of a kind items of clothing rather than the same t-shirts and elephant pants that help tourists to stick out like a sore thumb. There’s also antique furniture up for grabs, as well as old toys that would make for a great souvenir, as well as plenty of other little slices of history just waiting to be discovered.
Appearing on the first and third weekend of every month, the Bangkok Farmers Market is a little different to the others as it moves around each time – usually to another shopping mall – yet is worth the extra bit of research to pinpoint its location. It’s a great initiative, offering tourists and Thais alike the chance to purchase natural, organic goods directly from the farmers, with a lot of the money then going on to be invested in charitable causes, meaning you’re really giving back to the community. There are plenty of things to sample and buy, from handmade jewellery and beauty creams to delicious foods and clothes that are sweatshop free. An ethical and enjoyable choice of weekend market.
Perhaps more highbrow than many other kinds of markets, Asiatique blends shops with stalls in order to provide a shopping experience that is much more stress-free and easier to navigate than others in the city. In a good location by the river and with a cute, nostalgic decor, Asiatique is perfect for those wanting to discover the latest fashion trends in Bangkok and willing to indulge in a little retail therapy – though there’s much more to it than that. With plenty of independent eateries alongside the usual Thai favourites of MK and The Pizza Company, it’s a great place to spend an evening. The cherry on top? There’s an illuminated ferris wheel, providing a chance to end the night in style.
Named as a “place of symbolic values” to Bangkok residents, Pak Khlong Talat is the premier flower market in Bangkok and a real feast for the senses. Once floating, yet now on land, it’s several centuries old and is famous in Thailand. There are thousands upon thousands of types of flowers here, from your usual orchids and roses to exotic types that most will never have heard of. It’s known far and wide, with traders from overseas coming to sell their wares too, all helping to contribute to a colourful spectacle that will take some beating. If you’re not a flower lover, don’t despair as it’s also home to countless fruits and vegetables. Visit for an hour or two and you’ll have the fragrance of flowers lingering in your nose all day – a welcome respite from some of Bangkok’s usual odours.