The Never-Ending Maze of Chatuchak Market

The Never-Ending Maze of Chatuchak Market

11 categories of goods, 8000 stalls, 34 acres of land, 400k visitors every weekend.

Those are the staggering numbers for the Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok, which is one of the largest markets in the world. If you are visiting Bangkok, make sure you squeeze in a weekend in your itinerary because shopping at Chatuchak is one exciting experience and the best place for buying souvenirs. The title of the post is quite misleading. To be frank, Chatuchak Market is not really a maze. You will find that out by the time you read till the end.

As a first-timer, the Chatuchak Market seemed overwhelming and impossible to decode. I was there with my roommates for a souvenir hunt. The Metro from Silom was the best way for us to get to the Market which saved us from the annoying traffic. Once there, we followed the crowd towards the entrance. Needless to say, the place was brimming with people. With a coconut ice-cream in hand, we explored the streets. Music and the delicious street food aroma filled in the gaps with no people. We stuck to the main streets exploring the stalls before getting sucked into the maze.

We decided to delve into the deep abyss of the market through the alleyways. The stalls got more colorful and lit up as we went in further. We had no idea where to start and what to look for. While my roommates were fascinated by the colored Elephant figures and Key-chains, I was looking for something that I would NOT get in India. Something that is unique to Thailand. We got enough Elephant figures and colorful artifacts back home.

So I broke away from the group and went deeper into the maze to find that one thing that would fascinate me. That is when I found my souvenir. The Sepak Takraw Ball. I had seen a bunch of guys playing the game in a park I came across the previous day. It is basically a volleyball game but you use legs in place of hands. Now picture that or else watch this video.

This is how flexible you need to be to play that game. So that ball now rests in a peaceful spot in my room back home.

At that moment I had no idea that the game was called Sepak Takraw. I had to Google in many weird keywords to find it. After ‘volleyball with legs’, ‘tennis with legs’, ‘thailand leg volleyball’ took me to the darker side of the internet, I finally got the perfect keyword – ‘kickball thailand’. It gave me some links which mentioned the Sepak Takraw game. But this was not the first time I was seeing the ball. Being a fan of Thai action movies I remember seeing this ball way back during my school days in one of the Tony Ja movies ‘Born to Fight’. Glad I finally got the souvenir I was looking for.

There was an instance where one of my roommates had seen a tank top stall where he had got a good deal. But decided to go deep inside the alleyway to see if he gets a better deal in some other stall. None of the stalls were giving any deal as good as the first one so we decided to get back to the first stall and that is when we found that we had lost the way back. We split up and scrounged the whole place for that one shop.  We even retraced our way back to the market from the entrance but all in vain. That shop was gone and so was the deal which we ignored. It was impossible to find the same shop again in the maze.

But if you have been to Chatuchak, you can see that the place is not really a maze. It was organized in some way that was invisible to a newcomer. The place was also clean and looked OK as per SE Asian standards. I finally came across the key that decoded the maze. If you have the map then you can make sure you will not miss any deal or stall as we did.

source : Bangkok.com
  • Clothing & Accessories (sections 2-6, 10-26)
  • Handicrafts (sections 8-11)
  • Ceramics (sections 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 25)
  • Furniture and Home Decoration (sections 1,3,4,7,8)
  • Food and Beverage (sections 2, 3, 4, 23, 24, 26, 27)
  • Plants and Gardening tools (sections 3, 4)
  • Art and Gallery (section 7)
  • Pets and Pet Accessories (sections 8, 9, 11, 13)
  • Books (sections 1, 27)
  • Antiques and Collectibles (sections 1, 26)
  • Miscellaneous and Used Clothing (sections 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 22, 25, 26)

 

Unlucky me, I was not having this info when I went and had to depend on my natural shopping instincts which failed me every single time. The only section I was familiar with was the food section. I could reach that section no matter which corner of the market you put me in. Check out this interesting Food Trail which will leave you drooling.

That was my first encounter with the Chatuchak Market. Have you been to the Chatuchak for the Souvenir Hunt?

89 thoughts on “The Never-Ending Maze of Chatuchak Market

  1. Sepak takraw is one of the sports here in the Philippines. It is part of our schools’ curriculum. I cannot remember if I have tried this sport.
    I would get overwhelmed with the Chatuchak Market. There are so many stalls but I would absolutely not get lost in finding food vendors. Haha!

  2. I have not been there Gokul but wow it looks fun. Bangkok is monstrous. So big, so many markets, shops, stalls, everything. Just a major city on steroids. I love the little markets that pop up all over town, on the sidewalks. Although going forward these may disappear. Tasty coconut ice cream 🙂

    Ryan

  3. Sepak Takraw does indeed sound very odd! Bangkok is such an assult on the senses I was never quite sure if I liked it or not, but it’s certainly a unique city. The map is probably useful for Chatuchak!

    1. The sport is pretty famous in SE Asia. It is actually a physically demanding sport. Bangkok is not for everyone. It can be quite irritating sometimes.

  4. 8000 stalls is just wow. We can easily spend a whole day sauntering the alleys looking for some rare and unique takeaways. The ball looks amazing and have never seen it before. Chatuchak and Sepak Takraw is definitely on list now

  5. I went there last summer when I was in Thailand. However, I didn’t venture that far into the market as it was stressing me out. But very fascinating market.

  6. I had to laugh at the thought of you googling for the answer. I do that for something on EVERY trip whether it’s a delicious fruit I’ve never seen before or a weird object like this one. Great story and looks like a fun maze to wander and shop.

  7. Your shopping instincts sound about as good as mine:) (I’m always missing things I wanted to buy or great deals). I love the idea of just getting lost in this huge market, wandering aimlessly, and seeing what surprises you. Sounds like a fantastic day!

  8. Chatuchak Weekend Market looks like a great plac e to hang out during weekend! The coconut ice-cream looks very delicious. Will the locals anyhow raise price for tourists though?

  9. Oh my goodness, based on the map you included, that market looks HUGE. I’d definitely feel overwhelmed there. Not sure any deal would be worth triggering my anxiety 🙂 And Sepak Takraw looks insane.

  10. That is a huge market..a shopaholic’s paradise or a photographer’s delight. The souvenir you mention does seem like a perfect ‘take-home’ since its so unusual. Maybe you will practice how to play it too.

  11. Ahh yes, good to see there is some kind of structure to the market in the end. I’ve not been to this particular market in Bangkok but I did visit many others and always found a little overwhelmed at first 🙂

  12. I enjoyed Chatuchak so much, especially the vintage rows! It is a pity that they mainly sell very small Asian-size clothes :(((( Otherwise I would have spent a fortune there.

  13. Haha I love the souvenir story it’s totally something I would do! Strange that the first one was the best price! Oh well it all adds to the experience!

  14. Yep sure have and loved the experience. I didn’t go for souvenirs as this doesn’t interest me at all but I loved the food and just the chaos of it all.

  15. I love exploring the local markets! You get the chance to experience the local culture. 8000 stalls sound huge. I can spend my entire day out here!

  16. I haven’t been to Chatuchak but it definitely sounds like a maze, for first time visitors at least! I always employ the shopping strategy of if you like it buy it now when I’m in huge crowded markets like these, because like you I learned that I always get lost and the deal I found at the beginning of the day has disappeared along with the shop!

  17. I love love love going to the markets when visiting new countries. Sometimes it’s like sensory overload, all the sights, sounds, smells, but I still enjoy it. I didn’t make it to this market while in Bangkok, but I guess it’s all the more reason to go back :). Also, half the fun is getting lost in these places. I’m like you, I may not be able to find anywhere else, but I’ll always be able to find the food.

  18. I remember visiting this place, when I was in Bangkok. It is indeed huge and a great place to buy souvenirs.

  19. Those numbers are truly astounding! I guess I am convinced of one things for sure – whenever I visit Bangkok, I must include a weekend to make sure I can visit the Chatuchak Weekend Market as well!

  20. I remember when I went to Chatuchak Market and my mind was blown. That place is HUGE and you can literally find everything you could ever want or didn’t even know you wanted there. Can’t wait to go back!

    1. I got what I was searching for. And I have almost spend a day exploring the market. So I don’t think I will be visiting the Chatuchak on my next trip. I will go for the floating markets.

  21. Holy shit that is massive haha excuse my language but wow. That has to be a little overwhelming but awesome! 400k visitors every weekend? Wonder when the busy season is haha. How many did you actually get around to seeing?

  22. Looks like an interesting market to go to. I have never heard of that volleyball. Interesting concept though and you now have a unique souvenir!

  23. Wow! Chatuchak Weekend Market looks fabulous and over whelming at the same time. I’m sure there is plenty there is peak your curiosity to try. I’d give a go at least one trip!

    1. There are plenty of sections, there was also an art sections where they have many handmade artifacts on display and wall paintings. They were really amazing.

  24. Sepak takraw is the National Sports of the Philippines. LOL. Chatuchak is really overwhelming and truly crowded but everyone should drop a visit because it’s one of the things Bangkok is know for.

    1. Did not know that Sepak takraw is the National Sports of the Philippines. Thanks for sharing the info. It is indeed a spectacular sport to watch.

  25. You gave the perfect title to this post as it is a maze for the traveler who has no info of this map and layout. I too was lost in this maze and took hr to come out. The sepaktakraw ball game is sometjing new to me and for it you need to be so much flexible.

  26. I was aware of that Thailand and particularly, Bangkok is a place to explore markets but didn’t know about this one. This looks amazing. It is just incredible that 400k visit the market in a weekend. It is a huge number!

  27. I’ve been to Chatuchak twice and every time I head home, I always habe that lingering feeling of wanting to come back again because there was one item I wanted to buy but decided against it at first and now I regret not buying it!

  28. Wow, what an incredible place! So glad you found that amazing souvenir, I think that;s one thing i’d search for too. I’ve seen that game and never knew the name of it, so thanks for explaining that.

  29. Wow, I don’t know how we missed this during our Bangkok visit!!! We were only there 3 days but that hardly seems like an excuse. Argh!! Will have to go back and visit Chatuchak market and catch some Sepak Takraw ball!

  30. wow that map! so much there! Am i to assume that the ball is getting very little use now that it is home? I think i could almost see the dust in the photo 🙂

    1. That is true, it is of no use to me but just a showpiece item. But I don’t think there is any dust on it in the pic as it was taken as soon as I pulled it out of bag.

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