A well-kept secret from tourists and foreign visitors to Bangkok, Thailand is the Ratchadapisek Night Market. Held on Saturday nights and known locally as the Ratchada Night Bazaar, Ratchadapisek’s night market sells an incredible array of unusual new and used items at dirt cheap prices. If you want to have a true unique Thai shopping experience, don’t miss the Ratchada Night Bazaar.
Food Stalls – Before you even start shopping, you must hit the food stalls lined up on the street plus in the Ratchadapisek MRT (underground train) parking lot. Food on sticks, noodles, som tam, mango and sticky rice, fried chicken and loads of other traditional Thai street food offerings start at 10 baht (30 cents) per serving and go on up. The street food stalls here are cheaper than in tourist areas downtown and even more authentic.
Vintage Scooters, Motorbikes and VWs – For some reason, the Ratchada Night Market has also become a mecca for owners of vintage Vespa scooters, motorbikes and VW Beetles and Bugs. Most are not for sale (although some are); it’s just a place to park the bike or the van so people can wander around and admire them.
Some of these vehicles are simply gorgeous – well-taken care of, beautifully restored and polished to a patina hardly ever seen. If you speak some Thai, have a chat with one of the owners too. They’re a font of knowledge about where to buy one if you’re interested or, where to get parts in Thailand if you already have one.
Shopping for Used Items – Ratchada Night Bazaar is primarily famous for its slew of used goods. If you love vintage (which is trendy in Thailand at the moment) or you just love a good browse, you can’t beat the shopping here. You’ll find old household items, second-hand record albums of old Thai singers, vintage jeans and clothing, lamps, pillows, books, DVDs, furniture, antiques, bric-a-brac, old Coca-Cola bottles, beer signs, old toys, Buddhist amulets, used speakers and record turntables and boatloads more. Some new items are also in with the old.
If you see something you like, inspect it carefully as, once you buy it, it’s yours. You can get some phenomenal bargains though on items you will never find anywhere else. Just remember, bargain hard.
The People and Atmosphere – Ratchada Night Bazaar is a real slice of Thailand. There’s always a huge crowd, mostly young Thais, and you’ll see few foreigners which, if you’re wanting to get away from the tourist stuff is a good thing. The atmosphere is fun, a bit crazy, but very laid-back and people are friendly and interesting to talk to. A lot of young university students, musicians and artists sell here so it’s a bit of a anti-establishment group.
What to Take and How to Get There – Other than money, the only other thing you need is a flashlight (or torch, as the Brits say). The area isn’t particularly well-lit and, if you’re planning on buying, you want to be able to inspect items carefully before purchasing them.
Getting there is easy. Take the MRT (underground train system) to the Ratchadapisek station and take exit 2. Turn left and walk for a couple of minutes and you’ll see the market when you come out of the station. It’s on every Friday and Saturday night, from 5pm until midnight.