Discover eight of the best night markets in Bangkok, Thailand’s bustling capital city, offering everything from fake designer goods and vintage clothes through to boutique shops and hipster eateries.
Whenever I visit South East Asia I always have to search out the best night markets. There’s something about the bustle of the crowds, the hawkers vying for your attention, and oh, the amazing street food, that has me hooked.
Shopping after dark has always felt a little exotic to me as I’m used to UK markets, which close way before the sun goes down. So when I think of night markets I think of hot tropical nights, food stalls with plastic chairs, the smell of freshly cooked asian food – even the memory of stinky drains and dingy side streets make me smile, all because to me they all equal being on holiday.
Every Asian trip I’ve taken has involved a night market at some point: Hong Kong, Penang, Ho Chi Minh City, Siem Reap, Kuala Lumpur, Singapore and most recently, Bangkok.
Bangkok’s night markets don’t disappoint – unsurprisingly, Thailand’s capital has a myriad of night markets taking place on different days across the city. Each market is unique, meaning there’s something for everyone. There are the classic street markets with their designer knock-offs, souvenirs, and ‘Engrish’ slogan tees, the food focused, the quirky, the seedy and more recently the upmarket/hipster vibe has hit the scene.
My latest visit to Bangkok was not my first and so this time round I decided to do some research into the most weird and wonderful night markets Bangkok has to offer. I’d already visited the most well known markets on my first trips, and so asked my fellow travel bloggers what interest night markets they’d visited in Bangkok.
With their suggestions, and my own experiences, I’ve put together this list to eight of the best night markets in Bangkok. We’ve done all the hard research work so you don’t have to – simply pick the one that best takes your fancy and enjoy a fun night out shopping!
Asiatique – The Riverfront
Asiatique is a clean, modern night market that’s more like an outdoor shopping mall than a street market – there’s even an Apple store here! Prices here reflect this, but trght by the river, it has many family-friendly entertainment options, making it a favourite night market for many. It’s somehow combined all sought after types of shopping, eating and entertainment into one gathering spot.
During our visit, shops from well-known brands drew us in and we then spent our time strolling through row after row of bazaar-type stalls, with husbands, wives and kids all finding items to haggle over.
Once the guys had their fill of shopping them happily found a restaurant table and grabbed a beer and something to eat while the rest of us continued shopping. We enjoyed street food prepared before our very eyes, and the kids tried several of the carnival-like rides. While we didn’t get round to visiting the puppet theatre or cabaret, nearly all of us piled into the Asiatique ferris wheel which gave us incredible night views of Bangkok’s high rises.
The whole evening was topped off with delicious ice cream before we climbed into our van to head home, satisfied and exhausted!
Asiatique is open everyday from 5pm-12am. It’s located on Chareonkrung Soi 74-76.
Chang Chui Market
A bit further out of town that many of Bangkok’s night markets Chang Chui can be a tough one to reach as it’s not easily accessible via public transport. However it’s something different from the norm. Chang Chui translates as ‘messy artisan’ is considered more than just a market, rather a ‘creative park’, with a huge range of attractions, shops, cafes and eateries.
This isn’t where you’ll find the usual hawkers and their ilk, it’s more upmarket here with designer ‘spaces’ with boutiques, restaurants, speciality coffee vendors etc. Different areas are open at different times – Chang Chui isn’t just a night market, but it had a dedicated night time section with live music, vintage clothes shops and even a retro hair salon.
The cool thing about this market – slap bang in the middle of it is an old airplane, giving the place the nickname of the ‘airplane market’. Used as a sometime restaurant, sometime museum there’s a cute little bar under the fusilage and a curly slide for those who want to release their inner child.
Chang Chui’s night market is open Mon-Tues, Thurs-Sun from 5-11pm. It’s located on Sirindhorn Road, on the Thonburi side of Chaophraya River.
The Bangkok experience is incomplete without visiting one or more of its night markets. During my time in Bangkok, I visited some of the best night markets and Chinatown was my favourite by far, because of the variety of food it offered.
When you visit Chinatown firstly I recommend you stop off at the China Princess Hotel Rooftop Bar to enjoy a drink in this air-conditioned restaurant. This revolving restaurant has a spectacular view of Chinatown and beyond.
Personally, I like Chinatown for its street food market, which comes alive after sunset. Talat Kao is one of the most popular areas to enjoy Chinese delicacies like dumplings, noodles, soups and fresh juices.
My favourite night time spot in Chinatown is Yaowarat Road, which turns into a grand street food market at night. There are several food stalls on both sides of the road offering great dining experiences. The most popular dishes here are dim sum, oyster omelettes, flat noodles in a different broth, plus lots of fresh seafood. For dessert, you can try many exotic fruits, homemade ice cream and fresh fruit juices.
Chinatown’s night market is open everyday and comes to life when the sun goes down. It’s located Yaowarat Road.
Khao San Road Market
Khao San Road is known as the entertainment centre for tourists, and is where most backpackers stay when they come to Bangkok. It’s nighttime that this big street and its surrounds come to life – not only are there loads of bars and restaurants there’s also a street market where you’ll be able to get all the usual tourist tat – fake goods, souvenirs etc, as well as try ‘exotic’ food like insects on sticks.
It’s totally focused on tourists, and could be considered a little tacky, but well worth a visit just once. Grab yourself a cheap massage, a bucket of beer and a tasty pad thai while picking up some Thai presents to bring home for the family…
Here’s a little video I took during my recent visit…
Khao San Road night market is on everyday, from sunset until the crowds disperse…
Patpong Market is set in one of the seedier parts of Bangkok, but it’s also one of the most well-known and popular night markets for picking up fake clothing, shoes and accessories.
Set in an area of the city full of strip and go-go bars, I have to admit I wasn’t the hugest fan of the backdrop and did get rather tired of being asked if I’d like some lady on lady fun. The odd thing was that it was always me and not my partner Justin that would get accosted, which made me wonder if I looked a little frustrated and in need of some kind of release!
Although the regular propositions were rather annoying I have to admit that I didn’t feel unsafe at any point. Bikini-clad ladies and ladyboys aside, the night market felt like any other in the city; full of tourists looking for souvenirs and stall holders hawking their wares.
It doesn’t take long to spot that all the stalls are selling similar if not the same gear, and you’ll see stall after stall selling the same t-shirts, bags, watches and purses. But the good thing is you can use that to your advantage and have some fun bartering to find who’ll give you the best deal. I came away from an evening here with some cheap new holiday tank tops and a pair of knock off Nike trainers, while we got Justin some holiday slip-ons and a couple of t-shirts adorned with the local beer logos.
Patpong night market is open everyday from 5pm-1am and is located on Patpong Soi 1.
Rachada Train Market (also known as new New Rot Fai Market)
Night markets are a huge thing all over Thailand. When the sun goes down and it gets cooler, people come out to shop, eat and have fun. There are lots in Bangkok, but our favourite is the Ratchada Train Market.
The original Train Market Rot Fai, is on the outskirts of Bangkok and not that easy to get to (see below). However the Ratchada Train Market is next to the Thai Cultural Centre Metro Station, just two stops from Asok, making another good choice is travelling to a night market via the bts.
The Ratchada Train Market has a retro design, with booths made from old shipping containers pilled up, painted in bright colours and lit with coloured fairy lights. There are old camper vans housing bars and decorated oil drums and you can get a hipster haircut, buy Thai souvenirs as well as clothes and shoes.
The music pumps out loudly from the various bars, where you can buy buckets of Thai beer. There’s also stalls selling a whole range of Thai food including whole BBQ fish and seafood, Thai salads and spring rolls, as well as international dishes like grilled cheese, sushi and octopus balls.
The best thing about the Ratchada Train Market is that for some reason it’s mainly frequented by Thais. When we visited, we rarely saw any other foreigners, making it a great place to see how Thais like to spend their evenings.
One warning though, leave plenty of time to go to the toilet, as the queues can be very long!
Rachada Train Market is open Thurs-Sun from 5pm-1am and is located on Ratchadaphisek Road.
Rot Fai – the original train market
Rot Fai, also known as Rod Fai, was originally found near old train tracks in the city centre, but was sadly pushed further out of town due to the extension of the bts, which makes it a lot harder for visitors to reach. Now only reachable by taxi, those that make the trip are rewarded with a night market on an epic scale.
The market is broken down into three different zones: market, antique and warehouse. To give you an idea of the size of this place, there are over 2,000 stalls in the market zone alone!
Brightly lit under colourful canopies, stalls at Rot Fai sell everything from vintage clothes and memorabilia through to your usual modern, cheap clothing and household items. Plus when you need a break you can head over to one of the many food stalls and bars around to refuel!
It may be more hipster than it once was, but it still sounds like an amazing place to while away an evening in Bangkok!
Rot Fai is open Thurs-Sun from 5pm-12am and is located on Srinakarin Soi 51.
The love I have for Thailand has a lot to do with its sumptuous cuisine and Soi 38, centrally located in Bangkok’s Sukhumvit area is your best introduction to Thai street food!
Soi 38 is very close to Sukhumvit metro station, making it one of easiest night markets to visit in Bangkok if you’re travelling by bts. This local market, once thriving along the whole of the street was shut down due to a property dispute (yes, I was gutted to find it was shut when I visited last November as it was just down the road from my hotel! – Keri) and has again sprung up anew as a small food court.
There are currently no more that 10-12 stalls there, but I have to say the food they prepare is some of the best in Bangkok!
Each stall has their menu printed in both Thai and English. One of the specialities here is the ‘fresh catch of the day’ but there’s so much more on offer. Heard of the Thai coconut ice cream that has fresh bits of coconut in it? This is where you get it. Oh, and this is also the place to come for all kinds of grilled Thai food – from tiny mushrooms to huge squid, you name it, you can get it here.
I highly recommend indulging in grilled chicken liver cooked with spicy red chilli sauce. Also, if you’re a fan of duck you should definitely try the grilled duck meat with a plate sticky rice. I also love the tom yum here!
An insider tip for you – come early, especially before 8pm. I remember arriving a little late and finding that most of the stock was gone. This place is first come, first served. Don’t miss out! (I have personally heard that some stall holders start and finish early, while others don’t open before 8pm or even 10pm – if you are in the area later in the evening, it still might be worth checking out! K).
Soi 38 is open from 6pm until the early morning. It’s located on Soi 38, just off Sukhumvit.
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Featured image credit: Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)