You can purchase virtually anything at the city's largest market, including silk items in a mudmee (tie-dyed before weaving) design that would sell for five times the price in the United States. Despite its name the market is open from Wednesday through Sunday, though only the plant section is open on Wednesday and Thursday. It's best to come on Friday or the weekend—in the morning before the place gets too crowded and hot.
An afternoon at JJ, as it is known by locals ("ch" is pronounced "jha" in Thai, so phonetically Chatuchak is Jatujak), is not for the faint of heart: up to 200,000 people visit each day, and there are more than 15,000 vendors. But what's a little discomfort when there are such fantastic bargains to be had? Go prepared with bottles of water, comfortable shoes, and make sure to print out a copy of the map of the market from the website. Strategically placed food vendors mean you don't have to stop shopping to grab a bite.
Easy to reach, Chatuchak is
across the street from the northern terminus of the Skytrain and near the Northern Bus Terminal. Just follow the crowd. Once inside, even with a map, it's easy to get turned around in the mind-boggling array of goods, but this is also part of the joy that Chatuchak has to offer—wandering through the maze of vendors and suddenly stumbling upon a beautiful teak table, handmade skirt, or colorful paper lamp.
The borders between the market's many sections can be a bit hazy—the stalls with animals, for example, spill into the silverware area—but you can keep your bearings by remembering that the outer ring has mainly new clothing and shoes, with some plants, garden supplies, and home decor. The next ring is primarily used (and some new) clothing and shoes plus accessories like jewelry, belts, and bags. Farther in are pottery, antiques, furniture, dried goods, and live animals.