Thailand’s weekend markets: bursting with local charm and exotic sights and sounds

Markets in Thailand

Words: TBT Team
Photos: Phuwadol Jankhum
Published: August 1, 2018

The weekend market is a long-established, popular element of Thai society. A bustling, intoxicating local landmark where people can gather to shop, to socialize, to do business, to catch up on all that’s happening, to eat and to just hang out.

Weekend markets thrive throughout Thailand, all of them bursting with unique Thai local experiences to see, plenty of charm and character to soak in and many exotic sights and sounds to behold. They are among the best places to experience Thailand from a fascinatingly different perspective.

Here we take a look at some of the biggest and most popular of Thailand’s weekend markets:

Chatuchak Weekend Market, Bangkok

Chatuchak Weekend Market Bangkok

Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok is the largest and most famous of all Thailand’s markets. A sign of its sprawling size and immense popularity is the 200,000 people estimated to visit the market each weekend, a mix of tourists and locals. If you’re looking for something in particular, you’ll probably be able to find it somewhere among the 15,000 or so stalls that make up this king of weekend markets.

There are 27 sections within the market, selling just about everything from arts and crafts, handicrafts, books, vintage goods, furniture, home decorations and second-hand goods to plants and garden equipment, clothes, jewelry, pottery, ceramics, second-hand goods and even pets.

A visit to Chatuchak Weekend Market can easily span an entire day and involve enough walking through the maze of stalls to work up a decent appetite. Luckily there are plenty of restaurants and eateries serving a range of food from tasty snacks-on-the-go to scrumptious noodle and rice dishes. The market also attracts buskers, artists and even TV show film crews, all of which help to create a busy and fun atmosphere.

Open Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 6 pm
Kamphaeng Phet 2 Road, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900

Tha Pae Walking Street, Chiang Mai

Tha Pae Walking Street Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is one of the most attractive cities in Thailand, popular with tourists for its culture and traditions, nature-based tourism activities, cooler climate and the charm and hospitality of its people. It also boasts a rich history, with the city once being the capital of the Lanna Kingdom.

A fantastic opportunity to experience the warmth and welcome Chiang Mai extends to one and all, comes around every Sunday evening in the form of Tha Pae Walking Street. This sees Rachadamnoen Road in the city centre turn pedestrian only from Tha Pae Gate to Wat Phra Singh temple and Prapokklao Road also, with stalls selling local foods, seasonal fruits, clothes, arts and handicrafts, silver crafts, wooden crafts, carved products and many other traditional items. Buskers, jugglers and other street entertainers add to the festive atmosphere.

Visitors to Tha Pae Walking Street can also take in various attractions that are in the area, including Tha Pae Gate which is part of the historic Old Wall, Three Kings Monument as several Buddhist temples including Wat Phra Singh, Wat Chedi Luang, Wat Thung Yu, Wat Phan Tao and Wat Chai Phrakiat.

Open every Sunday from 5 pm to 10 pm
Rachadamnoen Road, Si Phum, Chiang Mai 50200

Lad Yai (Sunday Walking Street), Phuket

The Lad Yai Sunday Walking Street market held in Phuket’s old town takes place in an atmosphere reminiscent of the Sino-Portuguese history of the area and one which reflects the period architecture still present throughout the town today.

Many kinds of products are on sale at the market, not least of all delicious local cuisine such as Phuket’s much-loved desserts Tao Sor Pia (pastry with green bean or salted egg filling) and Pung-Pia (white flakey puff), as well as the popular dish Nam Phrik Kung Siap (chili dip with dried shrimp Phuket-style).

There’s more food to enjoy along the streets in the vicinity, including delectable Chinese-influenced treats like Oh Tao (fried small oysters mixed with taro, shrimp, pork crackling and spring onion) and Mee Hoon Ba Chang (fried thin Hokkien noodles).

Open on Sunday from 4 pm 10.30 pm
Thepkasattri Road, Talat Yai, Phuket 83000

Wua Lai Walking Street, Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai also has a Saturday night market, known as Wua Lai Walking Street. This takes on a similar atmosphere to Sunday’s Tha Pae Walking Street but is a bit smaller in size. Also pedestrian only, it spans the whole of Wua Lai Road from Chiang Mai Gate through to Thipanet Road. The stalls here also sell a range of goods and items, some of the stalls participating in both the Saturday and Sunday night markets.

Buskers are also present at Wua Lai Walking Street to add to the festive feel, as are local seers and magicians. There’s also the chance to see a Li Kae show – a traditional Thai dramatic and folk music band performance. And time to check out attractions in the area, including the two exquisite Buddhist temples of Wat Muen San and Wat Sri Suphan with its fascinating silver ordination hall.

Stall prices at Wua Lai Walking Street and Tha Pae Walking Street night markets are normally cheaper than at other shopping spots like the Night Bazaar, as these cater to locals as well as tourists.

Open every Saturday from 5 pm to 10 pm
Wua Lai Road, Phra Sing, Chiang Mai 50100

Saturday Night Walking Street, Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai Clock Tower

Chiang Rai’s Saturday Night Walking Street, known locally as Kard Jianghai Rum Luek which means ‘Chiang Rai in memory’, takes place along Thanalai Road from the intersection near the Tobacco Authority of Chiang Rai through the intersection near the Government Savings Bank, in the centre of the city.

Chiang Rai is very similar to Chiang Mai in its culture and lifestyles and also shares the region’s Lanna history, and visitors to the Saturday Night Walking Street can peruse antiques from the Lanna era, which is a key concept of the market. Lanna-style lanterns and patio umbrellas for decoration add a colourful vibrance to the market, and the use of banana leaf bags for product purchases lends a natural touch.

The market is divided into three zones. The first zone is dedicated to OTOP (One Tambon One Product) items and goods indigenous to sub-districts in Chiang Rai; the second zone sells handicrafts, handmade products and traditional knowledge products including spa, herbal and massage items; and the third zone includes an exhibition and event space in addition to souvenir and other product sales.

Chiang Rai’s Saturday Night Walking Street is located not too far from Chiang Rai Clock Tower, designed by national artist Chalermchai Khositpipat. Do drop by for the evening light shows, which take place at 7pm, 8pm, 9pm and midnight. For several minutes, the clock will be illuminated changing colour while music plays, and there’re mythical creatures peering out from the glinting stucco.

Open every Saturday from 4 pm to midnight
Thanalai and Suk Sathit Road, Wiang, Chiang Rai 57000

SroewGround Walking Street, Buri Ram

SroewGround Walking Street Buri Ram

SroewGround Walking Street is a local landmark where the culture of Buriram is celebrated and its people can come to meet. The market is positioned as a family-oriented street for locals and tourists to sell and buy local products, display art and spread and learn cultural knowledge.

The market is held along Pitak Road in front of the Buri Ram Governor’s House. There are handicraft art shows, folk songs, busker music and plays to enjoy while walking and shopping for the various type of products on sale. This ranges from traditional items, souvenirs, clothes and OTOP (One Tambon One Product) goods to local dishes, desserts and fruit.

The Buri Ram Moat on La Lom Canal is also in the area, a wonderful location to rest, eat and chill.

Open Saturday and Sunday from 4 pm to 10 pm
Phithak Alley, Rom Buri Road, Nai Mueang, Buri Ram 31000

Thepprasit Night Market, Pattaya, Chonburi

One of Thailand’s best known tourist destinations, the seaside resort city of Pattaya abounds with many different visitor attractions that cater to all manner of interests. Not to be overlooked among these is Thepprasit Night Market, the most popular of the city’s various markets.

Visitors can shop for trendy clothes and fashionable outfits, shoes, bags, jewelry and more. The market is also a great place to eat, with some 500 stalls serving a variety of delicious dishes and local snacks. A must-try is the fresh seafood at great prices.

Thepprasit Night Market attracts a mix of locals and tourists and can be reached by shuttle from the nearby Outlet Mall and Lotus shopping centres. The market is practically a must-visit attraction in Pattaya.

Open Friday to Sunday from 5 pm to 11 pm
Thep Prasit Road, Pattaya, Bang Lamung, Chonburi 20150