Coming from Australia where everything is so expensive, I was really looking forward to doing some shopping in Thailand. I packed light to ensure I had enough room for any purchases. I almost went with empty bags… which would have been a terrible mistake.
Today was my last day in Thailand. I had seen all the Temples, Chinatown, I rode in a Tuk Tuk and I ate great food. So, feeling accomplished, I devoted this whole day to markets and malls.
I started by taking the Sky Train up to the Chatuchak Market.
TIP: When you’re planning your trip try and be in Bangkok on the weekend since this is when all the great markets are open.
When you get off at the Chatuchak stop just follow the swarm of people to the market grounds. Chatuchak was HUGE. They had everything you could imagine there, “Nike” shoes, art, shibori home decor, sunglasses, leather travel bags, dresses, plentiful amounts of jorts, books, food, coconut water, coconut ice cream, food, and more food. All these stalls are set up in empty buildings and there are outside stalls as well. It’s basically a massive maze of goods. I lost track of time, I lost my bearings, and everything looked so familiar and became so repetitive I almost lost track of what was up and what was down. I was getting a popsicle, or a coconut water, or coconut ice cream or a smoothie every 30 minutes here because it’s cheap and why not but also because it was so damn hot. Be prepared to sweat, bring cash and when it comes to haggling at these specific markets, I almost want to say don’t even bother. From everything I read markets like these were designed for haggling. However, no one I asked was willing to budge on anything and it started to get a little embarrassing. I would say half of the price they offered and they pretty much just said: No. So I started going 30-50 THB below their asking price… still: No. Finally, if I wanted something I’d just pay what they were asking. I bought a dress, sunglasses and a shirt for my brother. If you’re looking for nice clothes at a good price I’m sure there is somewhere in Bangkok that can provide, I just didn’t find it. Everything at Chatuchak was very cheap, don’t go there looking for anything of decent quality.
I spent a good several hours at this market before heading back into the city. If I were to do it again I would have gone straight from Chatuchak to the Floating Markets. There are a few to choose from and from everything I’ve seen and read it’s a great experience. Just make sure provide your taxi driver the address. They have a tendency to take you to whichever market they want you to go to.
Next I went to the Jim Thompson House. It was only a 15 minute or so walk along the river from my hostel. Entry was 150 THB (or 100 THB for students). It’s open 9AM-6PM. The tour was really enjoyable, it was all in English and the group was fairly small. Jim Thompson is an American businessman who moved to Thailand in the 1950s. He was known for being a spy in World War II and for mysteriously disappearing from the Cameron Highlands without a trace, his body was never found. The tour was only about an hour, once it was done we were free to explore the grounds and take pictures.
After the tour I rushed back to the hostel to get my things and head over to the Hua Lamphong Station.
TIP: I ordered my overnight train ticket from Bangkok to Chiang Mai on 12go.asia. It was 1,219 THB so only about $35USD. I highly recommend this because:
- it’s an awesome experience
- you save money on accommodation for a night
- you don’t waste any time during the day traveling.
If you do decide to do this I strongly recommend getting the Class 2 Sleeper with AC on the bottom bunk. The bottom bunk has the window and more room length and width wise. Also, I was on the top bunk on a different train due to unfortunate circumstances and it was so uncomfortable. When you’re higher up you get shaken around more by the train.
Because I ordered my ticket online I had to pick it up at the 12Go ticket station opposite of the station.
TIP: Pay attention to when the office closes. Your train may be leaving at 7:30 on Sunday but the office closes at 5PM so you have to make sure to get there in time or you’re not getting on that train.
I ate at a restaurant across the street from the station after I picked up my ticket. There were two options… DO NOT eat at Hong Kong Noodle. I do not know what they served me but just thinking about it is making me queasy. I’m pretty sure they scooped up some slime from the Chao Phraya and called it soup.
Once I was on the train I was surprised to see two rows of SEATS… OH HELL NO! I signed up for a SLEEPER train not a seat! So I’m just sitting there waiting for the train to leave all pissed trying to think of a way to get comfortable. The seat opposite of the one I was assigned appeared to be empty so I start breaking off the cushions trying to create a “bed” out of the two seats and taking out my quick dry towel to use as a blanket. Then once we started moving train conductors came around and started re-configuring the seats like jigsaw puzzles to form beds. I was so relieved. I closed my curtain, put on my audio book and just watched the city pass by through the window. This was another time where I knew I was seeing the real Bangkok. The homes were all open, no doors or glass windows, clothes hanging from the clotheslines, buckets outside for toilets. We passed a couple grassy areas where families were sleeping in the grass and in hammocks.