If you go to Bangkok and spend the entire trip eating inside restaurants, you’re doing it wrong. In most cities, street food is considered a novel alternative to the traditional restaurant, but in Bangkok, street food is as traditional as it gets. And since there are food carts and stands around literally every corner, it can be pretty daunting to figure out where to eat and plan your Bangkok culinary experience in advance. Luckily, some Bangkok markets are similar to Michelin-starred restaurants when it comes to name recognition. Much like farmers markets, vendors appear on a regular schedule, so you can actually plan your visits. Whether you’re looking for a shopping experience along train tracks or a memorable night market adventure, these are the best food and shopping markets you have to check out the next time you’re in Bangkok.
Bangkok has some of the best Chinese food in the world outside of China, and the Yaowarat market is where to get it. Yaowarat is Bangkok’s Chinatown, and it’s full of some of the best street food options in the entire city. Mainly, you’ll want to stick to Yaowarat Road and the parallel Charoen Krung Road, but don’t be afraid to venture down some smaller alleys and market lanes. You’ll find food options like bird’s nest soup and suckling pig here. To broaden your culinary horizons even further, Bangkok’s Little India neighborhood is just around the corner on Phahurat Road.
For the best food scene in Yaowarat, you’ll want to hit the street in the evening when most of the vendors are out. The mornings and afternoons are great for browsing the shopping markets, when clothes, accessories, souvenirs, and other items are sold in abundance.
Where: Yaowarat Rd, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon, Thailand
2. Wang Lang Market
If you’re looking for the widest and most diverse assortment of Thai street food, you can’t do better than the Wang Lang Market. Located at Wang Lang Pier, the market is open from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM every day. Vendors lining the street outside Siriraj Hospital offer a tempting array of Thai desserts, grilled and fried pork, fish, chicken, grilled bananas, and many other delicious Thai snacks.
Where: 45 Arun Amarin Rd, Khwaeng Siriraj, Khet Bangkok Noi, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10700
3. Taling Chan Floating Market
Taling Chan Floating Market comes as advertised. Located seven miles outside the city, the market consists of several wooden boats docked along the riverbank cooking shrimp, crab, and other fresh seafood on miniature barbecues. Eating freshly caught seafood by the river is a tradition in Bangkok, and there’s no better place to do it than a floating market. Here, you sit at wooden platforms and low tables along the river where you’re served directly by the merchants preparing the food. There are also Thai musicians on hand playing traditional songs while you eat, lending even more ambience to the experience. If dining by the water leaves you longing to take to the river yourself, you can hire a longtail boat to tour the neighboring canals for the perfect post-meal excursion. The market is only open on Saturdays and Sundays from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM.
Where: Taling Chan, Bangkok 10170
4. Silom Soi 20
Located in Bangkok’s central business district, this is one of the most convenient street food markets in the city. Given its proximity to many of Bangkok’s businesses, and the sheer volume of people trafficking Soi Convent Road, this is one of the biggest markets in Bangkok — and that means an abundance of options. Silom Soi 20 is half a mile south of the center of the Silom business district, and sells plenty of great Thai curries, chicken, rice, sweets, and snacks, especially between 6:00 AM and 9:00 AM when the road is closed to traffic and transformed completely into a market.
Where: Soi Silom 20, Khet Bang Rak, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10500
5. Talat Phlu
Given the ubiquitousness and popularity of street food in Bangkok, it makes sense that there would be designated awards honoring the best of the best. When it comes to the city’s premier food markets, Talat Phlu is among the most decorated. Several stalls in the Talat Phlu market have received local Thai awards for their dishes. Some of them, like one famous street cart that serves award-winning kanom buang yuan (a type of crepe), can’t be missed. Plaques and accolades praising its fare adorn the nearby street polls. The market is also known for having some of the best sticky rice and durian in the city.
It’s open day and night, and straddles the train tracks coming from Wongwian Yai, making it convenient for both locals and travelers.
Where: Talat Phlu, Thon Buri, Bangkok 10600
6. Maeklong Railway Market
True to its name, the Maeklong Railway Market is located right on top of the train tracks just down the street from the Maeklong Railway Station, and it has been in business since 1905. When officials constructed a railway on the grounds of the market, that market didn’t disappear. It simply adapted to its changing circumstances. Vendors and merchants continue to set up their wares on the train tracks, and when the train whistle blows, the vendors remove their goods from the tracks, pull down their umbrellas, and wait patiently for the train to pass. When it does pass, it will come unnervingly close to you, but please resist the urge to reach out and touch it, or grab a last-minute Instagram photo.
Clothing and accessories are sold at this market, but you won’t find a treasure trove of souvenirs as you might at other markets. Food is the primary attraction here, with enough Thai sweets, meat, seafood, veggies, fruits, and drinks to tide you over for a while. It’s also important to note that the market is located outside the city, but (surprise, surprise), it’s easily accessible by train.
Where: Mae Klong, Mueang Samut Songkhram District, Samut Songkhram 75000
7. Chatuchak Weekend Market
The largest market in Bangkok, you might get more than you bargained for at the Chatuchak Weekend Market. It would probably take you months to see everything Chatuchak has to offer, and since it’s only open on weekends, you’ll have to be pretty efficient. As you may expect, you can buy pretty much everything here — from meats, drinks, and snacks to art, clothing, and jewelry. It might look like there are thousands of seasoned shoppers marching deliberately up and down the rows of stalls, but there’s a good chance most of them are probably just as lost as you. And that’s okay.
Keep your eyes out for the desserts, including chocolate-dipped bananas, crepes, and brownies, as well as coconut ice cream stands that serve ice cream inside your own personal coconut. For some sense of direction, make sure to take one of the free maps from the information kiosks. You’ll still get lost, but at least you might actually find your way out of the maze of vendors before sundown.
The market is open every Friday from 6:00 PM to midnight, and Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 AM to 6 PM.
Where: Kamphaeng Phet 2 Rd, Chatuchak, Bangkok 10900