Chatuchak Market

A short tuk-tuk ride from the Royal Palace
Bangkok, Thailand

Contributed by Project for Public Spaces

Open on weekends only, Chatuchak has 8,000 vendors and serves nearly a quarter of a million shoppers.

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Why It Works

The market is big - 28 acres big and expanding. The range of goods sold at Chatuchak is mind boggling. There are over 200 varieties of orchids, Hmong quilts, 57 used and new book stores, puppies, knife sharpeners, lotus roots, lace vendors, leopard cats. Thai dancing accessories and honeycombs complete with bees.

The market is loosely organized by product yet there is a strange and wonderful incongruity to it all. In the center of everything is a large clock tower donated by the market's Chinese Association in honor of the beloved king's 60th birthday. For the opportunity to sell their wares here, Merchants pay approximately $300 up front for a 25-year lease and low monthly rent - with the idea that savings are passed on to the customer. The market operates on a break-even basis.

If you want real bargains though, stick around till about three or four in the afternoon, when prices drop and a whole slew of new vendors start hawking their wares in the center area near the clock tower. Music blares, teenagers dance American style and the banter level cranks up to a carnival pitch.

In the immediate area there are other smaller markets, restaurants, a foreign currency exchange and a field to buy and fly kites in a season. Plans are underway to start an adjacent night market.

History & Background

They may have paved over most of the canals that made Bangkok the Venice of the east, but the markets that once gilded her waterways made the evolutionary leap to land and have taken quite nicely, thank you Mr. Darwin. Night markets, thieves markets, farmers markets, cloth markets, Indian markets, flower markets, amulet markets, indoors and out - Bangkok is a market lover's mecca. The grandest spectacle of all though, has got to be the enormous and energetic Chatuchak Weekend Market. Chatuchak has been in its current location for eight years on land leased from the Royal Thai Train Authority.

Related Links:

  • - lots of pictures and detailed instructions on getting to the market

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