While fancy new shopping malls pop up in Bangkok like almost every week, most travellers still hope to escape the capital’s urban sprawl to enjoy the charms of traditional markets outside Bangkok. Here is a collection of easily reached markets, mixing in older more traditional markets with newer ones that offer visitors a more authentic local Thai shopping experience.
SAMUT PRAKAN: Khlong Suan Market
Khlong Suan Market is considered a foodie’s paradise within easy reach of Bangkok. This old community harks back to the glory days of King Rama V the Great and used to be the top shopping spot for people who travelled along the canal that links Bangkok and Chachoengsao. Khlong Suan is packed with food stalls selling every possible dish known in Thailand and is famous for its laid-back living, harmonious Chinese and Muslim communities, and great coffee shops. The must-visit one is Pae Li, where local Thais say if visitors come to Khlong Suan and do not have a coffee at this shop, then they haven’t really visited.
ANG THONG: San Chao Rong Thong Market
Ang Thong province’s ancient market is considered a must-visit destination for Thai tourists and is becoming increasingly popular with overseas visitors. They are invited to get to know this heritage market, San Chao Rong Thong, where period Chinese-style houses, shops and cuisine can still be found. Travellers can stroll around the old neighbourhood and try traditional dishes at the Market. Must-try items are Chinese-style coffee, shrimp Khanom Khrok pancake and authentic Thai desserts. Visitors can also tour Thai and Chinese shrines of the locally revered Thai Buddhist monk Luangpho Nam and the Chinese god Guan Yu.
SUPHAN BURI: Sam Chuk Market
Sam Chuk is considered one of the country’s most famous and authentic markets. In 2000, the local community decided to revitalise the old market while preserving its original atmosphere and took nine years to complete. The Market is now an award-winning example of old market revitalisation that’s been copied by numerous sites across Thailand. Those visitors keen to learn more should visit Khun Chamnong Jeenaruk Museum to view the history of the Market through the life of a local noble who lived from 1910 to the 1970s.
LOP BURI: Talat Chumchon Tambon Khoktum Markets
Chumchon Tambon Khoktum is a community market that serves a local network of creative communities of Lop Buri and local villages in Khoktum sub-district. This period attraction harks back to a simpler time serving as a historical tourism learning centre about local Thai experiences and the way of life of past generations. Of course Thai food is one of the main draws here with local dishes and snacks served in traditional earthenware with wooden utensils.
SING BURI: Bang Rachan Retro Market
Bang Rachan Retro Market offers a snapshot into days gone by in old Siam. The vendors dress in a retro style and speak the old Thai language. There are also performances by sellers and young Millennials in preserving the history of Ban Bang Rachan for generations to come. It opened in 2016, with 20 shops and since then has grown to over 370 shops at present.
SAMUT SONGKRAM: Amphawa Floating Market
Amphawa Floating Market is on a bustling canal; its banks lined with attractive teak shop-houses that open to the water. Arrive early enough, and you’ll see Buddhist monks making their rounds by boat and the local people offering food and alms as they paddle by. Most visitors arrive around midday though to enjoy seafood lunches of shrimp and shellfish that are cooked on boats and handed up to diners on the bank.