Tag Archives: souvenirs

Sampeng Lane


Sampeng Lane, or Soi Wanit 1 as it has been renamed, is a narrow street running for about 1km in Bangkok’s China Town. From 9am to 6pm the street hosts a lively and diverse wholesale market which is well worth a visit for an authentic slice of Thai life and some good shopping. Getting there involves either a taxi ride, or some walking and a bit of perseverance. The nearest stop on the modern public transit system is the Hua Lamphong stop on the metro line and then a 10 minute walk. You can also get there by the Chao Praya Express boat stopping at either Ratchawongse or Memorial Bridge Piers. You can pick up the Chao Praya Express Boat from the Taksin Bridge Pier which is by the Saphan Taksin sky train station.

Sampeng Lane has a long and interesting history closely connected to the permanent Chinese community which appeared in the late 1700s. The Chinese had close trading links with Thailand at the time and some merchants settled in the City. Whilst the other city dwellers at the time favoured living on boats on the river, the Chinese started building brick houses on solid ground, with the centre of this community being Sampeng Lane. By the late 1800s Sampeng Lane had become a notorious centre for vice in the City with the street featuring numerous opium dens, gambling houses and brothels. Even today the term ‘woman of Sampeng’ is Thai slang for a prostitute of Chinese origin.

Today the opium dens and brothels have gone, and what remains is the city’s most vibrant wholesale market. If you go bear in mind you need to buy in quantities of 5 or 6 items or more. The price of many items is often fixed and marked on the products so no haggling is necessary. If you have lots of presents to buy, perhaps lots of small gifts for colleagues in the office back home, this is a good place to come and shop. If you have visited the tourist markets of Patpong and the Sukhumvit Road this will also be interesting for you as you can check out what mark ups the traders are putting on their goods, as more likely than not this is where they came to buy what they are selling.

The market is roughly divided into sections. At the very eastern end you find lots of shoe shops, then moving east you find accessories like jewellery, watches and hats etc. Towards the centre of Sampeng Lane you find stalls selling things like ceramics, lanterns and paper products. As you travel to the western end you start to move out of China Town and into Little India and the choice of products increasingly turns to fashion and fabrics. For many shoppers this textile and fabric market area, with around 1,000 shops and stalls, is the highlight of the market with great bargains on wholesale silks and cottons. Right at the far western end the street turns into an Indian bazaar.

Have fun and work your way patiently through the crowds. It can be a bit intimidating, but remember the street is regularly bisected by streets where you can duck in and out of the market to eat, drink, rest or respond to any other call of nature.

Chatuchak Weekend Market

Chatuchak Weekend Market, located in the north of central Bangkok, lays claim to being the world’s largest weekend market. With an estimated 8,000 stalls and 200,000 visitors the scale of the market is breath taking. If you can’t find what you are looking for in Chatuchak Weekend Market, you probably can’t find it in Bangkok.

Opening Hours at Chatuchak Weekend Market

This is definitely one of the must-see destinations in Bangkok, even if you aren’t there to buy anything. It is a great place to eat, drink and people watch. The market is really easy to get to by both the Skytrain (Mo Chit station) and the Metro system (MRT Chatuchak Park station). It is fully open from 09.00 to 18.00 on Saturday and Sunday, and some sections are open during the week.

Finding Your Way Around Chatuchak Weekend Market

The market is something of a maze. The market organisers have tried to help visitors navigate their way around the market by splitting it into 27 sections, each supposedly having a concentration of same product stalls, such as art or furniture. With the exception of the pets sections and the plants section, the types of product are all mixed up and you need to search around to find what you want. The split into sections is only useful if you are trying to locate a particular stall or if you are trying to navigate your way in or out by the free maps which are distributed at the main entrance.

Busy Market

If you are visiting for the first time, a word of caution: this is a hot, noisy, busy market and you might want to avoid the heat of the midday sun and take regular breaks. Perhaps better to visit both days of the weekend and do shorter sessions, rather than spend a whole day there.

Value For Money

In terms of value for money Chatuchak Weekend Market isn’t always the best place to go. You can probably buy things cheaper in MBK or Chinatown. This is particularly true of the shops on the main throughway. The prices at these shops are expensive. However, to be fair when you go farther into the market, away from the main throughway, you can get much better value for money.

Variety

Where the market comes into its own is the sheer variety of what is on sale. Not only is this a ‘one stop shop’ it is difficult to find the same things for sale elsewhere in Bangkok. A lot of the better stalls are outlets for small factories, artisans and artists. They may have small outlets elsewhere in the city but you would be hard pushed to find them. For creative artwork at the lower end of the price scale, the market is the best place to shop in Bangkok. If you are looking for a handmade quality souvenirs for your own home, or someone else, then the best range and quality is to be found in Chatuchak Weekend Market.

Location of Chatuchak Weekend Market

Next read about Where to Leave Your Luggage When Visiting Chatuchak Weekend Market