My quick trip to Thailand was coming to a close. This final leg would take me from Phuket to the capital of the country, Bangkok the “City of Angels”. I investigate the weekend market trail in Bangkok and get myself some serious souvenir shopping done. Bangkok is one of the (if not the most) most popular tourist destinations in Asia. I could see travelers and tourists pouring in big numbers at the airport and the city roads were bustling with traffic and high-rise buildings, some travelers also find their way and cross the border between Thailand to Cambodia from Bangkok.
The Weekend Market Trail
Ko Kret – The Man-made Island
A few kilometers north of Bangkok is an almost man-made island called Ko Kret, away from the bustling metropolis. The Island is a small settlement of the Mon people from North and Central Thailand and parts of Burma.
I was dropped at the pier in Pak Kret opposite to Ko Kret in Nonthaburi district. From here I caught a local ferry-boat to cross over to the small island.
Located at the entrance to the island, across the pier is the Wat Paramaiyikawat, the largest of all the temples on the island. It was the weekend and I was in the right place. As you walk along the narrow alleys, you enter the weekend market of the island. Here’s where you can buy anything from souvenirs to snacks, clothes and so on for some dead cheap prices. The market is where locals come to buy and shop and are cheaper compared to the other parts of the city.
Take your time to taste the exquisite local street food as you walk along, exotic food, excellent handicrafts, souvenirs and a whole lot of flea market goodies. But the most attractive thing that caught my eye was the special coconut ice cream that is infamous in Bangkok. This has to be a must-try if you have a sweet tooth. I really didn’t feel like leaving the place but the midday Sun wasn’t helping my cause.
Asiatique The Riverfront
Late afternoon before sunset continuing my hunt for souvenirs, I got to Asiatique. An old port converted into a well-lit, riverfront night bazaar and an open air mall featuring thousands of small stalls, dine in restaurants, and pubs, even a giant Ferris wheel with sky-high views of Bangkok beside the Chao Phraya River. Live Muay-Thai fight shows frequently happen here. The most striking thing about the place is how it seamlessly blends with the Thai history, culture, tradition, and modernity. Asiatique is the largest night lifestyle river-front venue in Asia. You could easily spend the whole evening here, walk about the boardwalk while you feel the wind hit on your face from the river.
- Go on an all out shopping spree or spend the evening snacking up at the night bazaar or maybe sip on some fresh ale or craft beer at the lively pubs and fine dining restaurants.
Joe Louis Puppet Theater
For dinner, I checked into this wonderful puppet theater slash restaurant serving you traditional lip-smacking Thai cuisine while you get to watch the fabled puppet shows that have enthralled Thai royalty for years. The place is now declared as a national treasure of Thailand. Originally started by the award-winning Thai puppeteer Sakorn Yang-Keawsot also known famously as Joe Louis.
I witnessed a performance from the Ramayana depicting Hanuman, the monkey-god. The carefully coordinated moves by the puppeteer were thrilling to watch. A great place to enjoy a great dinner while getting entertained by paper mache puppets. Don’t forget to get yourself some special cocktails and relish the occasion.
- The show begins at 7 pm.
- It’s better to get there a little in advance to ensure you get those front row seats.
- The show is only from Friday to Sundays.
A ride on the BTS Skytrain
On my second day in Bangkok, I boarded the local metro, the BTS Skytrain/ MRT or Metropolitan Rapid Transit system. A quick and easy way to travel within Bangkok. I found it particularly useful as it took me to my favorite spot in Bangkok. You can purchase your metro tickets via vending machines at the kiosks at the station.
- One thing I really liked here was the generous counters at all stations providing you with small change in exchange for bills if you run out of coins to use the vending machines.
- The Single journey ticket costs 15-42 Thai Baht depending on the distance you want to travel.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
I wasn’t originally planning on going to Chatuchak, but I thought what the heck and took the metro from Asoke Station towards Mo Chit Station. Chatuchak market or JJ market as it is commonly referred to is the largest market I have ever seen is located near Mo Chit Station. Covering 30-35 acres of land, 15000 (yes, you read the zeros right) stalls packed one after the other selling antiques, handicrafts, food, drinks, clothing, accessories, home decor, plants, and even pets.
- Get ready to bargain if you want to get some value out of your shopping.
- Always better to get there in the morning hours around 10 am when it opens because it gets crowded and hot after a while.
- Make sure you can walk for hours at a stretch.
- Some parts of the flea market are covered and have air conditioners to give you some respite from the heat of the day.
- If you are really clueless about what to buy, like me, I’d suggest you take your time, walk around and see what interests you.
I spent close to about 4-5 hours or 6 actually, exploring the market. Trying out the excellent varieties of street food Bangkok had to offer and scouting for small memorabilia I can take home with me. Not to mention the coconut ice cream I got to try here again and again.
I stayed in Bangkok for one night and chose to stay at the Pullman Bangkok Grande Hotel in the Sukhumvit Asoke area right in the heart of Bangkok city. Sukhumvit is an upscale neighborhood with its hotels, bars, and restaurants. The interior of the hotel is shaped like the deck of a ship. The luxurious stay at the hotel was comfortable with 5-star service right to your room. The breakfast spread was so good I skipped lunch altogether the next day.
- The hotel is located centrally and access to the Asoke BTS Skytrain/ MRT Station is in walkable distance. The hotel also offers you a free drop off to the station on their own tuk-tuk.
- Terminal 21 Shopping Mall is located directly opposite to the hotel and this is an awesome place for the mall shopping lovers.
- The hotel boasts 325 luxury rooms, 3 multi-cuisine restaurants, a bar, a spa, a fitness center and a convention venue.
My transportation in Bangkok was covered by my sponsors for the most part. But where I did not have a driver I managed to use, the BTS Skytrain, Tuk-tuk and Grab Taxi at my convenience. I can assure you that the BTS is the most convenient mode of transport within Bangkok if you don’t have a lot to carry with you. Tuk-tuks are available anywhere and at any time.
Bangkok weather is mostly tropical and warm throughout the year. Although the temperatures are fairly cooler between November and February that is also the peak tourist season. I was in Bangkok in May when it is considered to be the hottest time of the year and monsoon just about to take effect.
The City of Angels
My weekend market hop in Bangkok was only a fraction of the things you could do in Bangkok. There are a lot more unexplored parts of this beautiful city left to be witnessed. Perhaps this calls for another extended trip to the “City of Angels” and I’m sure that the day is not too far away.
Are you heading to Bangkok soon? Let me know if you plan to visit these spots. If you have already, share your experiences from the “City of Angels”
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*All views expressed here are my own.
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