Running for over 70 years, the 35-acre Chatuchak Weekend Market, also commonly known as JJ Market, has over 15,000 stalls divided into 27 zones, each specialising in the merchandise sold. Open from Wednesday to Sunday each week, it is Thailand’s ultimate shopping destination and attracts over 200,000 visitors on a typical weekend. First-timers are advised to either download a map online or obtain one at the information centre at Chatuchak Park Office. The best and easiest way to reach the Market from a Bangkok resort hotel is by Skytrain (BTS) that runs throughout the city. Amongst the options available, Anantara Riverside Bangkok Resort is a short 12 minute, complementary boat ride from Saphan Taksin Skytrain Station, which conveniently connects to all other locations within Bangkok.
Zone #2 is probably the most toured section of the Market. It has a bohemian / hipster chic flair filled with little boutique shops selling fairly sophisticated independent clothing labels and accessories, and is the top spot for finding Thai handicraft at affordable prices. Zones #5 and #6 are popular among the locals for their denim wear, military-styled fashion and all kinds of other second-hand clothing. The western rim of the market, mainly zones #8 to #26, specialises in souvenir-worthy housewares – coconut- and sugar-palm-derived plates, bowls and other utensils; dried herbs and spices for both consumption and decoration; and aromatic handmade soaps, lotions, salts, scrubs, perfumes and essential oils. The most fun window-shopping is to be had in zones #13 and #15 where puppies, kittens, baby squirrels and less cuddly reptiles can be handled and enjoyed. Food lovers too will have plenty to sample, from fusion grilled food and fruit shakes to Bangkok’s famous dish, sticky rice mango.
It is best to visit the Market in the morning hours, about 10 am, for a cooler, less congested feel. The best time to score a discount is when a shop just opens as Thai superstition places the most importance on the first sale of the day. Finally, comfortable shoes and light clothing, plus lots of hydration via safe, clean bottled water will make for a relaxed and memorable market experience.
Roland Lefevre is a travel writer who specializes in creating features on leisure as well as business travel destinations across the globe.