A labyrinth of more than 15,000 shops spread over 35 acres and 26 sections, Chatuchak Market (JJ or Jatujak market) is the World’s largest Weekend Market. 2,00,00 visitors flock every weekend to shop for every household product possible whether it is fashion wear, bags, accessories, cutlery, art, antiques, gift articles, children clothes, pets, jewelry or spices. The wholesale market is so popular that tourists pick up goods in bulk to sell them in their home countries.
Take a big shopping bag, please! Ready to know more? Let’s go to this shoppers paradise!
BEFORE YOU GO
Before I start getting into the nitty-gritty of this fun and crazy marketplace, there are a few pointers to cling to. Do I have your attention? Ok, here they are –
- Plan a visit only if you have a few hours in hand. This is not one market where you can be back in a jiffy. The variety and vast array of products will entice you into venturing from one lane to another and before you know it the whole day would be gone. I have visited Chatuchak more than a dozen times and still not covered all the shops.
- Beat the crowds and the heat by going at ten when shops open.
- Keep yourselves hydrated at all times. Keep replenishing your body with fluids. Coconut water, fresh orange juice, water are available at every corner.
- It helps to keep a map of the market with you to help identify zones. They are easily available at tourist information centers or you can find it here.
- Apply sunscreen, don comfortable clothing and footwear and take a big bag to keep plonking your purchases. You’re ready to go.
- Hone your bargaining skills and use the calculator to show how much you’re ready to pay if you realize they don’t understand your language.
- The clock tower on the market is a good reference point before you start shopping.
Conveniently located near the Skytrain (BTS) get off at Mo Chit station or take the Metro (MRT) to either Suan Chatuchak or Kamphaeng Phet station. Kamphaeng Phet will take you right next to the clock tower which is a startup and meeting point.
ZONING IT OUT
Like a kid in a candy shop, the mind can go in a tizzy in Chatuchak.
For a first time goer, the market can be intimidating. Numerous entry points, the maze of stalls, the hustle bustle and thousands of people can throw anyone off balance. However, much of the market is divided into zones and depending on your requirement one can hit these zones. Choose the ones you want to visit. The top three things that make popular buys are clothes, accessories, and artifacts.
Sophisticated independent labels, hipster and bohemian styles and fashion wear for the youth, zone 2 is where you’ll find it all. This is the most visited section and has a different feel about it compared to the other zones. If you take exit 2 from Kamphaeng Phet station, you will hit it first. Fashionable footwear, graphic T-shirts, funky clocks, knick-knacks, and souvenirs all make good buys. Perfect Combination next to the station is good for shoes and bags and Common T has some amazing T-shirts ( Zone 2, Soi 3). The clothes in Zone 2 are more expensive compared to the rest of the market but that’s because they’re made by local designers and have a unique element. Are you looking for cowboy hats, chaps, and wigs in neons? Head to Zones 5 and 6! They are popular with the Thai youth subculture. For textiles and fabric by yardage Zone 8 and 10 are where you should walk towards.
Stalls selling some amazing jewelry and unique earrings, bracelets, and neckpieces can be found in Zone 3 and 4. Labyrinth in Section 3 is influenced by European Rococo art and they use some interesting materials like brass, feather, stone, resin, and stencils. Adding a bit of nature to his creations Backyard in Section 4 uses trees, corals, and rabbits in his designs. It’s a bit of an “Alice in Wonderland” feel to his designs. Shops in Sections 24 and 26, like Orange Karen Silver, shine out in chunky silver jewelry and semiprecious uncut stones.
ANTIQUES AND ARTIFACTS
A word of caution: While many shops may look like they are selling antiques, they’re actually well-crafted reproductions. Haggle! haggle all the way. Get some amazing art at unbeatable prices, kŏhn masks, Thai toys, and Buddha statues. Hill tribe arts, artifacts, and musical instruments can be found in Section 25 and 26.
HIT FOR STREET FOOD IN CHATUCHAK
I love Chatuchak for its vivacity, cheerfulness and a whole funfair feel. There are musicians and artists at every corner. The sound of music fills the air, bobbing umbrellas in different colors decorate the paths and street vendors sell the most amazing of dishes. On this trip, I stood fascinated as a Colombian Chef mesmerized passersby with his magic tricks. Crowds gathered around to watch him and then flocked around his stall for Paella. A true artist and a marketer too.
Stop once in a while to try the bubble tea, pick up a couple of pork satays, a box of sticky rice with mangoes, a doner kebab or fried octopus. The food in the market is full of flavors and is a perfect place to get to taste all of Thailand’s street food. Do try the freshly churned coconut ice cream with an assortment of toppings. It’s yum and a specialty to the place. The prices are reasonable and so it doesn’t pinch the pocket.
Once you’ve bought a bit too much and don’t know how to take it back home with excess baggage, don’t worry, FedEx, DHL, and UPS are onsite international shipping options. They’ll help you with the delivery. Don’t forget to get the details from the shipping company like the delivery time and duty charges to be paid. Now once that’s settled too, let your hair down and enjoy Chatuchak with some more shopping. Because in this market you can never stop.