Siam Gypsy Junction – Bangkok’s newest vintage market

Siam Gypsy Junction night market in Bang Son, Bangkok, Thailand

UPDATE – 21 September 2016: See the end of the post for details of how to get here by public transport using the newly opened MRT purple line elevated ‘subway’ train.

Move over Talat Rot Fai, Bangkok has a new vintage flea market to knock you off your pedestal. Though we’re still huge fans of the so-called train market, and spend far more time and money there than we probably should, over time it has inevitably got bigger and more mainstream, now has two locations (in Ratchada as well as at the ‘original’ market’s second location in Srinakarin) and has just lost some of the edge it had when it first opened all those moons ago on a disused railway site in Saphan Khwai. So enter Siam Gypsy Junction, the latest of Bangkok’s hipster offerings to freshen things up and provide a whole new patch for us to discover.

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Siam Gypsy Junction night market in Bang Son, Bangkok, Thailand

Siam Gypsy Junction’s location out past Bang Sue railway and subway station means is it is a little off the public transport network; the mainline railway track runs right alongside the market and the recently completed Bang Son station will in the future to be served by the planned Red commuter line, which will also connect with the planned MRT Purple Line extension, but until then it is lacking a station close by. That means getting here involves an 80-baht tuk-tuk ride for the several kilometres from Bang Sue. This all has rather pleasing echoes of the glory days of Talat Rot Fai in Saphan Khwai, especially the fact that – just as was the case back then – it seems that most taxi drivers don’t yet know about Siam Gypsy Junction, and you’re better off in the hands of a tuk tuk driver with local knowledge.

Siam Gypsy Junction night market in Bang Son, Bangkok, Thailand

Once you’ve passed what by day is a fresh market – this is for now very much a local area, just getting on with its business and untouched by the uber-hipster brigade – it’s easy to spot the similarities with the Talat Rot Fai of years gone by continue yet further. Local traders tout rusty bric-a-brac wares from the back of trucks and camper vans, and there’s a particular proliferation of Vespas and other vaguely vintage looking motorbikes. The market is set along what’s essentially just a road running beside the railway line for several kilometres, and down-to-earth, goods-laid-out-on-the-ground vendors are framed by the track on one side and marginally more permanent structures tucked under the expressway on the other, the latter housing a few shops, a number of bars and casual eateries, and the odd hairdresser. Speaking of hairdressers, there’s a very cool setup on the street itself where, between shopping for vintage wares, you can pick up a cut that’s in tune with the latest Thai trends.

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Siam Gypsy Junction night market in Bang Son, Bangkok, Thailand

For now – and we hope it stays that way – more mainstream vendors of mass-produced clothing have yet to make it here. That leaves Siam Gypsy Junction as the terrain of those with a love for not-quite-antique furniture, crockery, music posters, second-hand clothes and all manner of other tat that, as usual, you definitely don’t need but most certainly do want. There is plenty of food and drink to be had, whether from roving or more stationary street carts, or the odd setup actually housed in a building. The whole market has a low-key, yet rather bizarre and unexplained, wild west cowboy theme to it, hence an area halfway down the walkway is decked out with bales of hay that make for a communal seating area. Some of the bars have country-and-western style saloon doors, and you can’t help but expect someone to ride along on horseback screaming ‘yeehaw!’ Instead, a fair percentage of the clientele – on our visit exclusively locals, as far as we could tell – is a little alternative; expect plenty of dark-clothed, tattoo-clad, long-haired customers and traders.

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Bangkok Bus bar at Siam Gypsy Junction night market, Bang Son, Bangkok, Thailand

Cowboys aside, other notable drinking options at Siam Gypsy Junction include Bangkok Bus, where you can sit on the roof of a school bus (okay, it’s actually a platform built around the bus) as you soothe down a cold beer with an unobstructed view of the mainline railway line on one side and the bustling market on the other. For something as unusual as a bar on top of a bus, the drinking area at Bangkok Bus actually sports a relaxed and intimate atmosphere, gently lit by retro shade clad lamps and accompanied by a pleasantly chilled out soundtrack.

Reggae bar at Siam Gypsy Junction night market in Bang Son, Bangkok, Thailand

Drinks are inexpensive and there’s a short food menu that’s admittedly lacking a little on the imagination front – our salmon sashimi was actually a plate of supermarket-bought smoked salmon off-cuts with a side of wasabi – but it’s enough to make do with for beer snacks. If you come as a group, you can take over the extended section of the bar that is built on top of a shipping container. Not far along from Bangkok Bus, a buzzing cocktail bar with an impressive looking collection of spirits sits under a palm tree and transported us for a moment back to a similar setup at Long Beach on the smaller of Malaysia’s Perhentian islands.

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Siam Gypsy Junction night market in Bang Son, Bangkok, Thailand

If you’re beginning to feel over Talat Rot Fai and its ever bigger crowds, and are craving something new to reignite your love of the rawness of Bangkok’s latest slightly hipsterfied vintage and flea markets, then Siam Gypsy Junction could be just the ticket. But get there soon because, as the saying goes, it won’t be like this for long. Expect it to quickly climb in the popularity stakes as soon as the commuter line and subway services arrive.

Siam Gypsy Junction night market; Wednesday-Sunday, 6pm-1am; take a tuk tuk from Bang Sue MRT station.

UPDATE – 21 September 2016: With the opening of the new MRT purple line elevated ‘subway’ in August 2016, it’s now possible to reach Siam Gypsy Junction night market entirely by public transport. Take the MRT’s older blue line to the terminal station at Bang Sue (if necessary, connecting from the BTS Skytrain at Asok/Sukhumvit, Mo Chit/Chatuchak Park, or Sala Daeng/Si Lom), then leave the station via exit 2 and catch the free shuttle bus to the purple line’s Tao Poon station (a design flaw means there’s not yet a direct interchange between the two subway lines). On arrival at Tao Poon, purchase a new ticket and take the train one stop to Bang Son, then leave the station via exit 4 and turn left; after about a 30-second walk and just across the mainline train tracks, you’ll find the entrance to Siam Gypsy Junction on your left.

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