Thai Markets - Bangkok & Chaing Mai

Oct 17th, 2007, 08:02 PM
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Thai Markets - Bangkok & Chaing Mai

Planning our first trip to Thailand/Asia, but was confused about the markets/bazaars. (Itinerary is still being developed, but might visit BKK, CM and Phuket in early April.)

In BKK, it seems there are many different markets/bazaars (floating markets, etc.) What can one find there and is this where most shopping takes place? Which ones are not to be missed and when are they open? Also, is it appropriate and/or expected to bargain?

In CM, is it true that there are daily markets in addition to the popular Sunday market? Same items every night? Trying to understand what makes Sunday more popular.

Also, we might be in Thailand during one or two public holidays (Chakri Day and Songkran) I've read that most temples and major tourist attractions are open, but does this include the shopping/markets in both BKK and CM as well? (Might be in CM during Chakri Day and BKK during Songkran.)

Thank you in advance.
kimberlyb is offline  
Oct 17th, 2007, 08:32 PM
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Hi kimberly, as far as bkk goes, you can buy about anything you want in any of the numerous markets, from venemous snakes to kids pajamas! In the markets barganing is expected, with a smile, it will probably be done with a calculator being passed back and forth. Along with the markets there are several malls that range from the everyday mall to the very upscale malls. The floating market is a touristy thing to do, great place to take pics but not shop, you can get the same things much cheaper in bkk. I'm sure others will help you and, maybe michael who lives there could help with the market shopping. Several of the other veterans can help you with where to stay in bkk if shopping is what you are after.
travelduo is offline  
Oct 17th, 2007, 11:43 PM
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Chiang Mai is most famous for it's night bazaar, which runs every night from about 7:00 pm onwards. The stalls here are rented out, so the same stall sells the same thing every night, until fashions or owners change.

The Sunday walking street is a relative newcomer. There's also a Saturday walking street. The items on offer are pretty much the same as you'll find in the night bazaar, but I've found better bargains on stuff at the walking streets. Plus, they're less crowded and more laid back than the night bazaar.

In Bangkok, Suan Lum is supposed to be closed by the time you get here, leaving the Patpong night market (most famous for fakes) and Chatuchak weekend market. Chatuchak is huge - and getting bigger next year - and can be exhausting.
MichaelBKK is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 04:21 AM
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There are in fact many different kinds of markets. CM has a Night Market every night. We were not particulary interested, but many are. they also have a walking market on Sundays that many people have exclaimed over.

In BKK, the largest market is Chatachuk, the weekend market. It's definitely worth seeig. Get there early and get a Nancy Chandler Map (it has a diagram of the market that makes it much easier to navigate). There are also nightly markets in BKK, Patpong, etc. There are also speacialty markets, e'g., amuley market north of the Grand {alace. Take a look at some guide books and see if there's one that interest you.

As noted above, at all markets, bargaining is expected, but it's best dome in a cooperative rather than adversarial fashion. Remember, you're both trying to reach a mutually agreeable price. There's no bonus for saving a hundred Baht.
Gpanda is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 05:27 AM
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Shopping in BKK is amazing!!! You can buy real Gucci or fake. Real LV or fake. Real Rolexes or fake. It just depends where you shop.

There are the high end malls (Paragon and Gaysorn Plaza come to mind). There are also more reasonably priced places such as the Siam Discovery and Siam Center malls, as well as the huge Central World Plaza.

Then there is MBK. MBK is a large Thai mall, located at the National Stadium skytrain station. It has a lot of small shops and one larger department store. There is no bargaining in the department store. There is some bargaining (but not always) in the "other stores."

That said, one of my favorite parts of MBK is what I call the catacombs... there is a section in the back of the mall on about 3 floors. This is an area that has a market type of appearance to it. Stalls do not have doors or walls. They are open. Bargaining here is expected (and fun).

MBK prices are higher than at the weekend market, but MBK is air conditioned and has modern toilets.

The weekend market has a new mall, just off the market grounds. It is called JJ Mall. Not worth the trip unless you are planning to go the the weekend market. But there are some nicer things in the JJ Mall. Bargaining is expected here also.

Don't forget street markets, such as those in and around China Town and Pratunam area. Fascinating!!

The good news is, much of the shopping in BKK is all within one area, and fairly easy to navigate on foot and by skytrain.

simpsonc510 is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 09:23 AM
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Thre Anusarn market whic runs on a street perpendicular to the main night market street seems to have slightly higher end products. Nice hill tribe and silk products among many other items which are one of a kind. Also a large outdoor food court and a stage with free Thai dance shows. Seafood is a specialty, it's very fresh, sometimes still swimming. There are also air conditioned restaurants. The Indian restaurant is quite good.
tweety817 is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 09:24 AM
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Sorry, I was talking about Chiang Mai Night Market.
tweety817 is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 11:00 AM
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The Patpong Market is the seediest of all the night markets, in my opinion. But, there are more knock-offs there than in any 2 other night markets but be prepared for another "side-of-life". We visited BK 3 times and went once for the experience but not again. The weekend market in BK is GREAT but my suggestion is to get there at 10 AM. We arrived once at 9 and only 50+ vendor stalls were set-up. But it gets really hot by 12-1PM so 3 hours and hop into an A/C taxi and head for lunch in a place with A/C.April is one of the really hot months. We were there in 4/06 and most days it was 95-97 degrees with 60%-70% humidity so you have to pace yourself. We get a driver/guide like Ratt or others so we always have A/C. Yes, it is $75 for 8 hours but it is worth it plus you can store your purchases in the trunk.
StanKase is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 11:23 AM
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I never buy western products in asia -- no interest in gucci fake or real. I generally believe shopping in chiang mai is much more interesting.
glorialf is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 01:50 PM
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When I was in CM in July, I noticed some items for sale that I can also buy in BKK. The BKK prices were lower! I was really surprised by that discovery.
simpsonc510 is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 02:29 PM
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Thank you everyone! I appreciate all the feedback. My head is already spinning with so many choices! While shopping is a must, it's not going to be a dedicated shopping trip (my husband would not be happy) and there are so many other things we want to see/do.

Since none of you mentioned that any of the markets (CM bazaar, Chatuchak) or malls close during Chakri Day or Thai New Year/Songkran, is it safe to say they will be open? I've read that some shops/ places of interest are closed on certain significant holidays like Thai New Year. This will help us determine the dates we go.

While I'm most interested in local crafts and not western brands/knock-offs, I am curious how you know if they are real or fake? The last thing I want is get in trouble with customs for buying fake designer items if I see something that I like.

Many thanks!
kimberlyb is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 07:37 PM
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There was another thread on the same topic of holidays recently. People probably didn't answer your question because it's just been answered.

The answer is - places rarely close for holidays in Thailand. Shopping is a pastime for Thais, so most shops have to open on holidays or they'd go out of business. A few small shops may close for the new year holiday, but they will definitely be in the minority.

Most sights are open on holidays as well. The only 'major' sight that comes to mind that closes for Thai new year is the Royal Barge museum.
MichaelBKK is offline  
Oct 18th, 2007, 09:29 PM
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You can buy some craft items at OTOP in Chiang Mai. It is a govt operated store that pays local tribes for their handiwork. It is listed on Nancy Chandler's Chiang Mai map. You might also want to google SUPPORT, which was a similar program started by Queen Sirikit that might be nationwide. We bought a few things from OTOP and practically nothing on the street.
hoodlims is offline  
Oct 19th, 2007, 06:09 AM
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Kimberly, the easy way to tell the difference between the real and the fake is where you buy it from. That "Prada" bag in patpong is fake, the one from paragon is real. I am not into knock off things either, but this last time at MBK we found Ed Hardy jeans for about US $15, and if you can find them here at home cost about $200, I don't even know if they are fake or not, they look the same as the day I bought them!
travelduo is offline  
Oct 19th, 2007, 06:44 AM
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In Chiang Mai I stayed at the MONTRI HOTEL, 2-6 Ratchadamnoen Road, across from the Thapae Gate. At the Thapae gate there was a flea market that often had some of the items that the night market had but at cheaper prices! (Montri Hotel wasn't too bad either - all room with A/C.)

You will be in Chiang Mai during the Songkran holiday. You do know that this is a "water festival" in which you will be soaked often with lots of water! No exceptions, if you are snooty and stuck up you will be hit with extra water! You will also have white powder applied to your face, etc.! So, leave your most expensive clothes at the hotel, wear cheap wash and wear items. Keep your wallet, electronics, camera and anything that will be destroyed by water - wrapped in plastic! They love soaking everyone including tourists! You can purchase a cheap water pistol and join in or simply be a target - up to you!

In Bangkok you can visit the Patpong night market if you want but I think the prices are high. Chatachak (WEEKEND MARKET) is worth a visit, it is off a Skytrain stop so it is easy to get to. This market can get pretty hot in the afternoon. Animals sold there are kept in lousy conditions.

For electronics and computer stuff check out the MBK (off the Stadium Skytrain stop) or check out the Panthip Plaza on New Phetchaburi Road. The Panthip Plaza is 6 or 7 floors of electronics and videos. Cheap food court available too! Sometimes Lotus Tesco, Carrefour and Big C stores may have cheaper prices but fewer choices.

I like the street vendors on lower Sukhumvit Road, from Soi 2 to around Soi 19. Also you can find a lot of street vendors on New Phetchaburi Road in the area near and leading up to the Baiyoke Tower Hotel. (Take the elevator up to the top floor of the Baiyoke Tower Hotel and you can see the whole city on a nice day, like being in a helo, for a price though!)

Street vendors are pretty savvy operators! They will size you up pretty fast, if you look like you have money, you know real designer clothes, real Rolex, etc. their price to you will be much higher! Hey if you are rich then you should pay more - their thoughts! Don't be afraid to offer a low price, even 25% - 35% percent of what the vendors offers you - they're not afraid to ask double or more the value of the item they are selling! You can always raise your price but if you offer too much your are stuck! Compare prices for like items, sometimes your "walk away" price is pretty close to the selling price!

In Bangkok if you have a hotel near the Skytrain it is a definite advantage for getting around town. Also air conditioned meter taxi cabs will be cheaper if you do not bargain - just tell the driver - meter please! Tuk-tuks are more expensive than meter taxi cabs!

Have fun.

SirHalberd is offline  
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