Most of the people visiting Bangkok go to Chatuchak weekend market, where you can find lots of crafts, clothes, gifts & more. And try food of any kind, like coconut ice-cream. I was there but was not so impressed. Yes, it’s big, but I’ve seen such touristic markets around the world and in my country.
I prefer fresh food markets for several reasons (I will write a post on that in some time). Khlong Toei district is where you want to go for an authentic experience. The local market is where Bangkokians come for shopping fresh food. You will hardly find a tourist here. And you will find something different. Dozens of barrows displaying a huge choice of food.
Spices, the essentials of Thai cuisine, are well represented. You will see everywhere chile peppers, lemongrass, coriander (aka cilantro), basil (a variety more similar to mint compared to Mediterranean one), galangal (part of ginger family), kaffir limes, shallots. Curry paste are a specialty and quite curious to see sometimes.
Fruit is so inviting. I was there in November and found bananas, grapefruit (only red one), dragon fruit, papayas, apple (they are imported as far as I know), rose apple (local), cape gooseberry (aka Peruvian groundcherry), watermelons (red or yellow inside), mangos (some specialised barrows sell different price options, according to quality).
Fish and seafood are really impressive. The offer and display are pretty variegated. Some have loads of fresh fish still moving, other propose it already sliced, others they pack it (convenient!). Some fish can be quite big. There is a hudge choice of seafood. Fresh water or sea shrimps, calamari, squids (in Bangkok everywhere someone’s selling squid skewers, a long as chicken and pork ones). I even saw living turtles and water snacks.
Meat usually is thin sliced, particularly beef and pork, but also chicken. No surprise since they usually cook it this way here (as typical of Asian cuisines). Many parts non so commonly eaten in the Western countries are available, such as tripes, chicken feet, pork head and feet. Interesting to see that dead chicken still have their head on, while in Europe usually are sold without. And you have frogs. Dried meat is also available, pork being more common.
This market is quite crowded and some come for big shopping, for instance for restaurants. I found out there is an efficient system to help them. Several men and women wearing a blue west with a number on it (must be something official) are carrying a wheel-basket. It gets as a sort of “personal shopper”. Outside the market area lots of tùk-tùk taxis are waiting to bring people (and their shopping bags) home.
Needless to say, street food is present, but not as much you would expect for the crowd passing by. A plus is that ingredients are fresh here. I tried different things. A pork skewer (marinated in chiles and vinegar I think), some sort of pancakes (I guess made of rice flour and cabbage, but am not sure) and a good seafood soup (always nice having a soup in Thailand), plus for dessert some awesome coconut flower balls.
Overall, I had a great experience. So trust me, if you are in Bangkok don’t miss the chance to visit Khlong Toei market!
Have you been there yet? Any questions or anything to share? Leave a comment below!
Chatuchak weekend market