Every few weeks, a Thai friend and I shop somewhere in Bangkok, Thailand we don’t often go. In an effort to broaden our horizons, we’ve found ourselves in all kinds of fun Bangkok neighborhoods and, last week, it was Pahurat.
Pahurat, also spelled ‘Phahurat’ and otherwise known as ‘Little India’ is one of the two main Indian areas of Bangkok. It’s located close to the Chao Praya River and is stuffed full of market stalls, Indian restaurants and businesses. If you’re tired of the same old Bangkok shopping places, why not take a quick trip to Little India and buy some even more exotic things.
Indian Desserts – The first place we always head upon arrival in Pahurat is one of the tiny alleyways just off Chakrawat Road. Here, you’ll see stalls and small dessert shops selling all kinds of delicious, and cheap, Indian desserts – a must buy in Pahurat.
We always stock up on gulab jamun (fried dough in a spicy sweet syrup), kheer (an incredible rice pudding with raisins and pistachios), and dharwad pedha (a sort of fried and sugared milk ball – delicious). Each shop sells at least 10 desserts, with some shops specializing in certain ones. For only 100 baht ($3) you can buy a good selection of Indian desserts to snack on later at home.
Fabrics and Textiles – Of course, like any Indian area in the world, Pahurat in Bangkok is full of Indian fabric and textile stalls and particularly famous for Pahurat Fabric Market. Whether you’re looking for fabric for a traditional Indian sari, fabric to make a suit, dress, blouse, pants, children’s clothes, cotton, silk, tweed, cashmere – pretty much anything – the Pahurat Fabric Market is the place in Bangkok to buy it and, of course, the cheapest.
The fabric market prices are so cheap in fact a meter of cotton fabric can sell for as little as 30 baht ($1). You’ll also find all the dressmaking necessities from stalls selling thousands of brightly colored buttons, to zippers, applique, embroidery thread and dressmaking patterns.
To find the market, take a taxi or bus to Pahurat Road and walk down one of the tiny alleys that nestle next to the main road buildings. Just about all of them will intersect with the Pahurat Fabric Market, which stretches for several blocks. Be aware, it’s absolutely crowded, the market stalls are on either side of small aisles, and know where your money is, at all times.
Dried Fruit and Nuts and Indian Snacks – Although Pahurat is next to the Sampeng area of Bangkok, with its dried fruit and nut stalls, Pahurat also has a fair number of market stalls selling dried fruit and nuts. But, whereas, Sampeng sells the Chinese variety Pahurat, of course, has the Indian versions.
They are just as delicious, just as cheap and, with other Indian snacks also sold, why not grab a few bags. They make great gifts.
Leather Shoes, Sandals and Bags – In Pahurat, you’ll find a large number of stalls and shops selling handmade leather shoes, sandals and bags. Some of the Indian merchants hand-stitch them and, of course, like anywhere the prices are higher than a knock-off Louis Vuitton but the quality and workmanship is superb. Leather sandals begin at around 600 baht ($20) and bags at 1,300 baht ($45).
Spices – While buying spices in North America and Europe can be pricey, in Pahurat it’s cheap. Spice stalls are scattered in every alley in the Pahurat market area, where you can buy small plastic bags of loose spices for merely pennies.
Last time I was there, I picked up cardamom (20 baht or 70 cents for a sizeable bag), ginger (10 baht – 35 cents), and about a quarter pound of cinnamon for 50 baht ($1.75). Spices are fresh here, so you’ll notice a difference from the usual supermarket junk you normally buy to flavor your food.
How To Get To Pahurat – The easiest way to get to Little India is to take the sky train to the Saphan Taksin station and, from there, a Chao Praya River boat from Saphan Taksin pier to Memorial Bridge pier (head north).
From the pier, walk a few blocks along Tripetch Road until you hit Pahurat Road (Thanon Phahurat). Turn right and you’re on the outskirts of Little India. From here, you’ll see all manner of Indian shops and stalls stretching as far as the eye can see.