One of my favorite things to do in Bangkok is visit the vibrant marketplaces — and you guys love to read about it! Some of my most popular posts are on Chatuchak Market, the Vespa Market, and the nighttime Flower Market.
I was pretty crestfallen to learn that the Vespa Market is at least temporarily closed down — I wasn’t able to get much information from the security guards at the site. From my sleuthing I deduced they might be trying to build a shiny new official marketplace which in my opinion will kind of ruin the spirit of what was once my favorite bohemian Bangkok hotspot.
In an effort to salvage Saturday night, my friend Wes and I did a quick Google search and hopped on the Bangkok underground to Kampaeng Phet, where we hoped that the Talad Rot Fai market would soothe our disappointment.
Following Gran Tourismo’s impeccable directions, we easily found the market — though to be fair, we could just have easily followed the vintage-skinny-jean-and-thick-rimmed-glasses-wearing hordes. It took all of about ten minutes of strolling past the atmospheric cafes, ramshackle popup bars and stalls of retro treasures before Wes and I declared Talad Rot Fai the only place to be on a Saturday night in Bangkok.
The aisles of goods are the heartplace of the market, though equally as active are the food stalls and more formal restaurants that line the exterior of the market. With live music and a buzzy atmosphere, you could easily watch a few hours tick by people watching and snacking after a good dose of shopping.
Oh, the shopping. While I rarely buy physical things on my travels — things work into my budget nor fit in my backpack — I was sorely tempted by the antique cameras, vintage furniture and charming little knick nacks. In the end I walked out empty handed but was satisfied simply by browsing and taking photos.
Towards the back of the market where the food stalls are the goods were more mainstream and what you would find on Khao San or at Chatuckak, so try to stick to the area near the Kampaeng Phet Road entrance. While there might have been some touristy items back there, we were delighted to be some of the only Western faces we saw all evening — this is a true local experience.
In addition to snacking our way through the browsing-and-people-watching portion of our evening, we each tried a few of the delicacies on offer from various food vendors in the market section. I can’t remember the name of the colorful balls, but they had a flavorless, marzipan-textures exterior with an ice-cream like center. To be honest, I liked photographing them better than eating them. The Fu-Ri-Do, on the other hand, won my heart forever. It was basically a glorified roti. Oh, and Wes would probably have my head if I didn’t mention the bacon-wrapped pork things he went on about. Bottom line — come hungry.
Visiting Talad Rot Fai (and spending time with Wes!) was the highlight of this particular jaunt through Bangkok — my third since arriving back in Southeast Asia! The combination of lively nightlife, a fun dining experience, authentic local atmosphere and shopping that would make a Brooklyn hipster weep with happiness is simply unbeatable. If you’re in Bangkok on a Saturday night, you’d be crazy to be anywhere else.