Need I introduce the famous and mind boggling Chatuchak Weekend Market (JJ Creative Market) of Bangkok? When you Google for the name, you can find tons of information about it. However, if you're reading this, this is my version. It is the so called largest market in Thailand with over 8,000 stalls and ready to blow your girlfriend's mind away. It's a shopping paradise for girls and guys and the things on sale there are extensive, from clothes to food, pets to accessories, decorations to books, and more. Please note that by weekend, I mean only Saturday & Sunday. On Friday, it's wholesale day.
Shopping and exploring Chatuchak is like a treasure hunt. The place is filled with tons of things you expect and least expect. It's a great place to spend half a day shopping.
Before going there, you need to bear in mind of these 10 cliche but very helpful tips:
- Wear light and comfortable, this includes your shoes too
- Bring sunglasses or hats or an umbrella to block of the heating sun, and apply sunscreen
- Carry your bags/backpacks in the front, so you can keep an eye for pickpockets
- Bring extra shopping bags (save environment mah)
- Bring enough cash and change, you'll be amazed by what you'll see
- Please get a copy of the JJ Creative Market map at the main entrance
- Please remember where the main entrance is, this will help you on getting back
- Practice on your price negotiating skills, it'll come in handy at every stall
- Please go there early at around 9am-9:30am to avoid the crowd and afternoon heat
- Lastly, bring along the hotel card too.
Getting to Chatuchak Weekend Market from Mystic Place Hotel is the easiest thing ever. All you have to do is finish your breakfast and by 9am, they will give you a free ride with their cute tuk-tuk to the market. It takes only about 3mins and it's fun. Please note that the hotel only provides ride to the market but not back to the hotel. So, I'll touch on that later.
Chatuchak is full of surprises. You'll be amazed by the treasures you find here. If it's your first time there like me, just go with the flow and explore as much as you can. If you see something that you really really like, just go ahead and buy it. It's because you might not have the chance to see it again once you leave and once you're back on track in the maze of stalls (It's 36 acres big!).
You're as well to just forget them and wander around, as it is a very disorientating place of many narrow alleys and trying to follow a map around can prove very frustrating as well. But the map is still helpful when you need to find the entrance.
While Fann was busy picking out clothes and shoes, I had some time to look around and to shoot some stuff in the surroundings. From a photographer's point of view, it quite a great place for some spontaneous street photography.
Do not forget that bargaining is mandatory. The things sold at Chatuchak and the prices are generally substantially cheaper than the shopping centers and street stalls on Silom and Sukhumvit. Many shops in the more centrals areas of the city also have a branch here, selling the same goods and fortunately for much lower prices.
After a long walk around the market, don't forget to give yourself a treat. Water especially is extremely important in this hot weather. The must-tries for Chatuchak Market would be the following.
Lastly, after a long day at the Chatuchak Market, it's time to head back to the hotel. Get ready your hotel card and show it to the tuk-tuk driver or taxi driver. But before that, here are our experiences:
1. Do not get on a tuk-tuk if the driver approaches you himself and if you're uncomfortable with the price. (Price for tuk-tuk to get back to hotel is only about THB25)
We were approached by one driver at the main entrance and he offered to give us a ride back to the hotel for THB150. I asked for a discount, but he refused saying that there's a traffic jam and a load of crap. We then walked away, when suddenly he screams to ask for THB1oo, but wanted to bring us to some shop. Immediately, I remembered about reading how these tuk-tuk drivers cheat tourist into driving them to souvenir shops and forcing them to buy stuff. We smiled and quickly refused and vanished back into the Chatuchak crowd, knowing this guy was gonna cheat us.
2. Walk back to the spot that Mystic Place's tuk-tuk left you and walk to the opposite side of the road and wave for a taxi.
From this opposite side of the road, you can save some money on the taxi meter because this will skip the U-turn and the taxi can directly bring you back to the hotel. Bangkok's taxi meter starts at THB35 and upon reaching the hotel, the meter reads only THB40. So, if you have tons of stuff to carry and need an air-con ride, I would suggest that taxi is the best option. But please make sure that the taxi will run by meter before entering the taxi.
We were lucky we didn't ride the tuk-tuk, if we did we couldn't have made it back to the hotel on time and our schedule would have been messed up.
One last thing that is very important for all. Pick pockets roam the Chatuchak Weekend Market and is very hard to notice in the crowd.
While I was walking, a kid knocked me in the butt where my wallet was. He then quickly ran away without apologizing and then I saw him knock another lady in front of me. I quickly reached to my wallet and was relieved that it was still there. The back pockets of my shorts where my wallet was had a button and I remembered I had buttoned up the pocket. After the kid knocked me, the button went loose. He had tried to take my wallet but noticed that the pocket was buttoned. Fortunately for the button, he only managed to loosen the button and did not take my money and wallet. My advice again to all Chatuchak visitors, PLEASE be careful of your belongings when you're there.
Other than that, have a great weekend at the Chatuchak Market. :)