Bangkok’s Talat Rot Fai

 

 

I love a good market, and so much the better if it is of hippy, alternative persuasion. Even better still if, despite being in the middle of Bangkok, it is practically tourist free and very much the real deal, an authentic slice of Thai shoppers’ paradise.

So to say I was happy to come across Bangkok 101’s tip-off about Talat Rot Fai would be an understatement if there ever was one. This market’s name translates as ‘railway market’ (not to be confused with the railway track market in the Mae Klong area of Samut Songkhram, which I have also visited and written about recently), and is located close to the Chatuchak weekend market in the Mochit area of the capital.

Campers and old vans are the order of the day

Campers and old vans are the order of the day

Like Chatuchak, it also takes place at the weekend, but of an evening so that it complements rather than takes away from the experience of a day spent at the world’s most mahoosive outdoor market. While the start time is advertised as 2pm, things don’t really get going until sunset – but once they do get going, they get going good and proper.

Along with a few items of crappy tat, you can look forward to a real treasure trove of eccentric, edgy fashions, old retro items and hot Vespa motorbikes. On the retro side, think old, dusty, glass Pepsi bottles with designs long out of circulation, reupholstered floral furniture and probably antique wooden stools and other bits lovingly brought back to life.

Trendy Bangkokians hunt out retro bargains

Trendy Bangkokians hunt out retro bargains

But, of course, this wouldn’t be a real Thai market if it didn’t also come equipped with a healthy selection of food stalls – and there are plenty to choose from here. Fresh seafood skewers, noodles, deep fried insects and everything-else-you-can-imagine, fresh sushi, and then some. Plus camper van after camper van parked up selling cocktails, beers and more at dirt-cheap prices to customers perched at tiny wooden tables and stools – 35 baht for two bottles of Leo, anyone? Price aside, there is something special about having your beer plucked from a freezing bucket, leftover ice being knocked from the sides of the glass with a hammer, and then coming across chunks of still-frozen beer as you sip. The ice also has a tendency to make the beer fizz over the top a lot (no matter how fast you slurp!), which is fun!

Talat Rot Fai

Talat Rot Fai

Perhaps the best feature at Talat Rot Fai, though, is the atmosphere: a genuinely chilled buzz, trendy and on-trend but with a distinct lack of pretention. These are just locals with their fingers on the pulse and out to a snap up something alternative for their wardrobe or home, at a bargain price. Stallholders are individuals with a real interest in what they are selling – much of it they have likely found themselves elsewhere – and not just businesspeople motivated only by money who have picked up at wholesale shops and markets what they guess will clear from their ground mats fastest. The smiles are genuine, the products unique picks you won’t find elsewhere, and the western tourists – and you’ll know by now how much this pleases me – distinctly absent.

Could you get a cooler spot for a beer?

Could you get a cooler spot for a beer?

To get to Talat Rot Fai either take the Skytrain towards Mochit and alight at Saphan Kwai, then take a tuk-tuk to Talat Rot Fai. Expect to pay 50 baht, and opt for a tuk-tuk rather than a taxi, as tuk-tuk drivers appear to know the location well and will have no problem getting you there; taxi drivers less so. Alternatively, take the MRT to Kampaeng Phet, turn right out of the station and walk for 500m; you’ll find Talat Rot Fai on your right, past several florists and garden centre-like shops. Don’t forget that, on the way back, the last Skytrain towards Bearing (previously On Nut, before the extension to the Sukhumvit line) leaves at around midnight, and the MRT stops running around the same time. Leave yourself plenty of time to dig out the treasures at Talat Rot Fai!

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5 Comments

Filed under Bangkok, Markets, Thailand

5 Responses to Bangkok’s Talat Rot Fai

  1. Pingback: The real Thailand top 20 | The World & His Tuk Tuk

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  3. Pingback: Talat Rot Fai Srinakarin: revamped and growing | The World & His Tuk Tuk

  4. When many of these stalls first migrated from Lad Phrao to Chat-u-Chak, Talat Roi Fai was Bangkok’s best kept secret, and quite possibly the coolest market in Asia. Three years on, it’s certainly been discovered. It’s still an amazing market and a ‘must visit’ for everybody, but it’s also amazingly busy. Now re-branded ‘Jat-u-Jak Green Night Market’, arrive early and be prepared to hangout until the early hours of the morning. You won’t bag the bargain of the decade here, Thai’s know the value of everything, but this is without doubt one of the most vibrant places in all of Asia.

    • Thanks for the comment Geoff – I’ve not been back that way since Talat Rot Fai upped sticks and moved to Srinakarin (you can see my more recent post for a wrap on the new Talat Rot Fai there), and I didn’t realise something along the same lines had carried on there. That said, I have heard lots about Chatuchak Green for its food trucks like Cheesebreak, and it’s been on my to-visit list for a while for the same reason! Thanks again for dropping by.

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