Written by Candice Neo
Co-written by Soma Dutta
Let’s be honest – how many of us come (and return) to Bangkok mainly for its shopping and food?
If this is indeed why you choose Bangkok, your trip would never be complete without the mandatory visit to Chatuchak market!
In fact, Chatuchak isn’t just a market – it’s an experience. It’s energetic, fun, crazy, and a place where you can find anything and everything. As all the sights and sounds indulge your senses at the same time, it may be a little too overwhelming for first timers, especially since it’s almost the size of 88 football fields.
And you seriously do not want to be lost in the maze and end up walking in circles. What’s more, you may notice that some stalls sell almost the same thing – and they can be located at different ends of the market!
Before you tear your hair out reading this, here’s some good news for you – in this guide, we’ll bring you through all the various categories you can find in Chatuchak and which sections they are in, along with practical tips along the way, so you can enter the market prepared and emerge fruitful!
1) When to go?
Official opening hours: Saturday and Sunday, 9am to 6pm
Recommended time to visit: 11am to 4.30pm (Most shops are open from 11am onwards and they start closing at around 4.30pm)
There’s also a market on Friday nights, but it’s mostly catered for local pub goers instead of die-hard shopaholics.
Guess it’s easier to answer what you can’t find at Chatuchak. It’s a riot of everything you’ll ever need (and don’t need)!
From high street fashion, quirky Thai designer boutiques, world class (and cheap) leather goods and denim, and even the cutest pet accessories!
From the map below, you have an idea of how confusing navigating the entire market can be, despite being divided into sections! So we’ve done the hunt and classified what you can find here into various categories, and the sections in which you can find them. Though truth be told, certain items are just EVERYWHERE, in almost every section, such as ladies’ clothes and soaps.
So our advice is this – unless you have the entire weekend to spare, have an idea of what you want to look out for first, and start with these categories. You’ll likely make some unexpected discoveries along the way too. Trust us, it’s better this way!
Editor’s Note: The sections under the different categories mentioned below are just a guide, and are not limited to what we have listed, as every section includes a variety of stalls selling different products. Thus, you may very likely find similar items in other sections as well, though we have done our best to list down as accurately as possible where various types of items can be found!
2-1) Snag some quirky/hipster/boho fashion – Sections 2, 3 and 4
Want to find the hippest and trendiest clothes and accessories in Chatuchak? If you only have one stop to choose, zoom directly to Sections 2, 3 and 4.
This area is the place to check out – Chatuchak’s very own high street, a popular haunt for young 20 somethings. It even looks and feels more happening than the rest of the market area, though it can be more expensive.
If there is a specific item in trend you are looking for, or just want to get updated on what’s in, here’s where you can find it.
Need some unique jewellery and accessories to mix and match with your personality? How about a flamingo necklace? Or earrings adorned with amethyst, turquoise, and other precious rocks?
Brides-to-be, here’s your favourite shops we are sure, with all the beautiful bridal accessories and lace for your hair. (Here’s a little tip from us though – you can get some inspiration here, but if you intend to buy them, we strongly advise you to head to Union Mall instead. You can get almost the same thing, but at less than a quarter of the price here!)
For the mermaids, don’t these pretty phone covers and clutches just tug at your heartstrings?
Or are you a photographer? Check out this funky “Crazy Cam” store that sells the coolest accessories to perk up your camera gear!
2-2) Flaunt the best fashion, accessories and bikini in town – Sections 2, 5, 6, 10-16, 18, 20-23
Looking for some runway-ready fashionable clothes and accessories?
Zoning down to a few sections for clothes is the trickiest – there are way too many shops selling fashionable stuff (especially if you are looking for girly things and pretty jewellery)!
For a start, young ladies, you will love the lace handbags at Section 14 – such a steal at only 60 baht to 100 baht!
And calling all Singaporean and Malaysian ladies, you must have heard of the BKK Original Shop (yes, that’s where your friend’s sister’s friend bought most of her Bangkok loot!) and you can find it Section 5. These bags are of great quality and very affordable – it’s no wonder all your friends who have been here rave about them (and are begging you to help them buy more!).
You can also find some pretty jackets and vintage jewellery here.
Chatuchak is the perfect place to replenish your jewellery box with the most unique pieces. We can never get over these lovely handmade ornaments crafted to perfection by local designers. Just look at this handmade butterfly earrings from Section 7!
Or even these artificial flower garlands at Section 11 – don’t they make you feel like a Hawaiian princess?
If you are into Bohemian fashion, Sections 6 and 24 are the areas to head to – there’s so many Boho dresses to choose from!
For all you bolds and beautifuls out there – Sections 6, 12, and 18 are your go-to stops for gorgeous swimwear, bikini and bras.
No worries if your kids are tagging along – they will be happily distracted by the children’s fashion collection in these exact sections. Not to mention every little girl needs her Disney Princess dress and here’s where you can find it!
Up for something funky? Check out these paper-bag inspired backpacks at Sections 7 and 16. Or hunt for unique local designer fashion at Section 18 – a rare find in the market!
Your younger sisters will love these colourfully beaded shoes!
If you have guy friends tagging along, you need to bring them to Section 22, where the men’s fashion is totally adorbs! You now know where to shop and leave looking like the next K-pop idol!
2-3) Get Biker Chic at a budget with leather, denim products and pre-loved clothes and shoes – Sections 5, 6, 10, 16, Chatuchak Plaza
If you have always been a leather lover who is constantly bummed how good quality leather is so heavy on your pockets – you seriously NEED to go to these sections at Chatuchak, where you can get them at very reasonable prices.
Don’t miss this shop (Vikrom) at Chatuchak Plaza where you can have your leather products hand-made to perfection by the owner – something that any true blue leather lover will love and appreciate.
You can also grab some great denim wear, military fashion, and even second-hand branded products at throwaway prices (though you need to check how authentic they are) to get the street-style look going!
If you are looking for pre-loved sneakers or sports shoes, head directly to Section 5!
We also noticed some amazing wallets and purses in the area near Section 1, that can give big brand names a run for their money in terms of durability.
2-4) Project Makeover for your homes (homeware and decor) – Sections 2-5, 7-10, 15, 17, 19-22, 25, Chatuchak Plaza
What do you need to give your home a happy makeover?
From majestic Chinese and Thai style porcelain tea sets straight out of your classic book fantasies (Section 17 and 19), available anywhere between 400 – 590 baht…
…. to pint-sized gorgeous crystal table tops (Chatuchak Plaza and Section 24), you’ll be spoilt for choice, especially if you’re furnishing your new home or renovating your current place!
If you are aiming to try the Hygge lifestyle trend for your home, these simple rustic wooden decor pieces at Section 4 are just perfect.
And how can you not adorn your living room with these pretty fairy lights from Chatuchak Plaza that are all the rage right now? Perhaps these mini lamps at Section 17 could give you some inspiration too! Or how about these pretty colourful lights you can decorate your windows with?
For girly homeowners, you will fall in love with these beautiful preserved flowers (Section 17)…
…. before going gaga at these timeless handmade clocks beautifully and artistically decorated with shells and preserved flowers at Section 15.
Vintage clocks and chandeliers, anyone?
Check out these magical fairytale-come-true butterfly-and-roses sculptures in bell jars you can find at Chatuchak Plaza. Won’t they add a surreal touch to your home?
These animal head wall mounts from Section 1 are definitely a must if you love quirky themes. And we simply couldn’t resist these ship models from this nautical shop at Section 19 – what a wonderful collection they would make!
With so much homeware that cost a fraction of the prices you can get back home, it’s easy to find yourself going overboard and buying more items that what you can possibly stuff into your (already overweight) luggage. But guess what, there’s shipping services near Gate 2 – our life-saver!
2-5) Bring home a piece of Thai art, handicraft or souvenir – Sections 2, 6-10, 19, 21, 23, 24, 27
Are you someone who must bring a piece of artwork home from every country you travel to?
You need to head right down to Sections 6, 7 and 24 – these areas are the best bets to pick up some paintings, art prints, wood-burnt art and even quirky sculptures for your home!
Or flaunt them on your clothes with paintings on apparels and tote bags, found at Section 23.
Nothing satisfies you more than good food? How about bringing your eye (or tummy) candy home for display – miniature versions!
If you are looking for some fun and magical stuff – we found some pretty woodwork at Section 10 that when picked up the right way, becomes a wooden basket!
And if that’s not unique enough for you, how about getting a set of Thai traditional games at Section 26? Or a set of Japanese wooden katana (Section 8)?
2-6) Shop for your dream wedding items, from bridal gowns to favours – Sections 2, 3, 5, 9, 11, 28
Wedding bells are around the corner? If you’re in Bangkok, head down to Chatuchak immediately for affordable and amazing wedding supplies!
Guess what, you can even find your wedding gown here, Section 5, at a pocket friendly price of 2500 baht (approximately USD 73). And these lace gowns certainly look sweet and classy enough!
If you’ve already rented your venue, you may want to consider pretty decor like these (at Sections 9 and 28), where you can deck up your perfect wedding with florals and girly white decorative frames – every bride’s dream!
Next, comb through these shops at Sections 2 and 3 for bridal accessories to match your attire or theme. (Pssst: They are a bit on the pricey side though, so though they are pretty to stare at, we can safely say you can get similar accessories at Union Mall, at a quarter of the price!)
And of course, you can’t let the guests leave empty handed, so get these cute wedding favour boxes (Sections 11 and 28) at a throwaway price of 20 baht!
P.S. One of us even bought them for her wedding!
2-7) Indulge in natural home spa items – Sections 7, 9, 11, 24
As obsessed with spa aromas as we are?
With an array of natural massage oil, essential oil, aromatherapy products, scented soap and candles and more available in the market, it’s simply paradise!
We advise you to check out Section 7 for these items. You can even find organic bug spray – very useful in tropical Bangkok where there’s mosquitoes galore. It’s suitable for children and does not harm the environment too.
Tired from 6 hours of shopping? Stop by a massage parlour in Chatuchak (they are scattered everywhere) for a good hour of soothing foot massage, before you continue Round 2 of shopping!
2-8) Bring home a toy for your furry friends (pet accessories) – Sections 9, 11, 13, 15, Chatuchak Plaza
Do you own any pets at home?
You can find a lot of accessories for your dogs, cats, rabbits and other pets, from leashes to dry food to toys!
At Chatuchak Plaza, we even came across a cat cafe named Cat Garden, where the cats appear to be very well-fed and well-taken care of. Customers are required to wash hands before touching the cats, to ensure that the cats are not exposed to unnecessary germs.
You’ll also notice that these little fur balls are friendly and tame, have their own distinct personalities too – there’s one kitten who loves to snuggle and refused to leave his sanctuary under the ladies’ dresses!
Editor’s Note: Apart from cafes and accessories, animals themselves (ranging from dogs, cats, rabbits, mice, hamsters of various sizes and breed and even exotic reptiles) are also being sold in Chatuchak market. However, many of them are sadly being kept in cramped and overcrowded cages and appear to be malnourished.
Hence, we sincerely appeal to our readers NOT to purchase the animals here, no matter how cute or adorable they appear, as we do not support the sale of animals that are not being treated ethically. If you have any other information regarding the sale of animals in Chatuchak, please kindly let us know.
2-9) Plants and cute gardening supplies for the green fingers – Sections 1-5, 7, 26
Don’t you just love these cute cactuses and mini pots? You can find them in various stalls in Chatuchak, such as in Sections 5 and 26!
Although you can hardly find fresh flowers in the market, you would be able to find a huge range of faux flowers, which are so pretty, they would make a great addition to your home decor.
And it’s easier to bring these home in your luggage, without troublesome queries at the customs you may receive if you purchase fresh plants. Plus, they are more durable too, of course. You’ll be able to spot these faux florals in various sections too, such as Section 26.
If you’re blessed with green fingers, you’ll love these cute gardening supplies, plant baskets and pots you can find at Section 4!
P.S. Don’t forget to check with your home country’s immigration department if you are allowed to bring any fresh flowers or plants (such as cactuses) back, before you purchase them!
2-10) Discover ancient treasures, traditional musical instruments and books – Sections 1, 8, 19, Chatuchak Plaza
Did you know that you can actually find these old sailors’ compasses, binoculars and monoculars in the market? (Think Pirates of the Caribbean!)
We discovered these gorgeous treasures in a shop named Museum (how apt!) in Chatuchak Plaza. A quick chat with the shopkeepers revealed that they had brought these items from collectors in India. We’re not sure how old these antiques are, but surely, if you’ve got an old soul, we’re sure you’d fall in love with them too, as we did.
If these are not enough to satisfy your longing for decades-old treasures, drop by Section 1 too, where you can find gramophones and old fans.
You can also find traditional musical instruments and violins here too, so if you’re searching for a unique souvenir, you know where to look! There’s also a similar stall in Section 8.
And guess what? There’s even a cute ukulele stall at Section 19!
For the bookworms, you don’t ever want to leave Section 1. Look at the stacks you have to go through to find your hidden gem!
2-11) Foodie paradise (street food and cafes) – Sections 17-19, 27 (and pretty much everywhere)
Ladies, these sections are where you can leave your men.
Trust us, they would be so delighted with the delicious snacks and street food, they won’t call you every hour to ask if you are done with your shopping.
Make a beeline for the Chinese roast pork and fried chicken wings at Section 19, Soi 7/1. We’re not the only ones raving about it! We’ve also heard that the honey roasted pork chop at Section 22 Soi 4 is really tasty too!
If you’re feeling especially hungry, go for the popular paella stall at Section 8 – you’ll know it when you see it (and the crowd). When we tasted ours, it was fresh-off-the-(huge)-pan fragrant!
At Section 1, you’ll come across various interesting cafes, such as this greenhouse-themed one we visited. We could not resist getting one of their pretty cakes! Besides the massage parlours, where else can you find a sweeter place to take a shopping break at with the girls?
Under the blazing heat at Chatuchak, what can be better than a sweet, frozen choco-banana? There are many stalls selling this, but trust us, the best one is the stall outside Section 5!
Our other favourite dessert is the Thai iced tea soft serve stall near Section 28. It was so yummy and refreshing, we came back for more.
But if you’re looking for a fancier dessert, you can opt for the coconut ice-cream served in a coconut husk with toppings (such as red beans, Thai sticky rice, nuts, etc) sold by a stall outside Section 5. Our verdict – it tasted pretty okay, you can definitely find better coconut ice-cream elsewhere in Bangkok, but it makes a nice picture.
If you are looking for Halal food, fret not! There’s a Halal food stall at Section 12 Soi 2, where you can dig into a hearty meal.
Don’t forget to end your day with a cool and refreshing mango smoothie. Our advice: request for less sugar, you have a really sweet tooth like the locals!
For those of you who are keen to attempt cooking Thai cuisine at home, why not get some Thai spices, available at Sections 7 and 8?
3) Getting to Chatuchak
Many people have been to Chatuchak and we know that some seasoned Chatuchak shoppers have shared a couple of shortcuts to get to the market.
But for first timers, if you’re afraid of getting lost, we strongly recommend the easiest route, where you will enter from Chatuchak Market Gate 2:
1. Take the BTS and alight at Mo Chit BTS station
2. Exit the station via Exit 3 (You’ll see a huge crowd and you’ll know – 90 percent of the crowd are headed in the same direction as you are. So honestly, just follow the crowd.)
3. Turn right into Kamphaeng Phet 3 Road. This is where you’ll pass by many roadside stalls along the way, before you finally reach the Chatuchak entrance, Gate 2.
Note: Deciding on which specific gates to enter from depends on which sections you would like to go to (details in the breakdown below).
4) Detailed map of Chatuchak, with clear illustrations of sections:
5) Tips on conquering Chatuchak
Before you start shopping, take note of these things to make your experience more enjoyable!
Do check what items you can bring back to your home country before making your purchase (i.e. many countries prohibit bringing animals and plants home)
If you don’t know what you are looking for (or if you just want to explore everything), divide the areas you want to walk first into smaller areas, and walk in a zigzag manner
You can deposit large bags and bulky items in deposit boxes near Chatuchak Plaza area
Money changers are only found in certain areas (at Gate 2, Gate 3, opposite Section 1)
Toilets are also limited and only found in certain areas (i.e.near Gate 2), so go before you start your shopping!
If you buy too many items, or large items (like homeware and furniture), you can ship it home! There’s shipping services, such as DHL, near Section 6
Negotiate in Thai.
– “Tao Lai (Rai) kha” = how much?
– Numbers: Neung (1); song(2); sam(3); si(4); ha(5); sip(ten); loy (hundred); ha loy ha sip baht = 550 Baht
If your travel companion is lost, or if you encounter pickpockets or require any emergency assistance, go to the Chatuchak counter opposite Section 1, and the staff will assist you
Smoking is prohibited in the market.
Keep hydrated! The market can be quite stuffy, especially when it’s crowded. Keep an eye out for juice stalls scattered around the market!