Thailand is the country of markets: food markets, clothing markets, flower markets, and even floating markets. It should not come as a surprise that I did some serious exploring and purchasing during my time in Bangkok. Some of the markets are similar to those I found in Chiang Mai selling a variety of Thai products and trinkets. However, Bangkok is home to three unique markets that I enjoyed having the chance to see, the flower market, Chinatown and a floating market.
Each day around 4 AM, large quantities of flowers are brought up the Bangkok to the flower market. I've heard thats the best time to visit the market, but given I was unwilling to pull myself out of bed mid-morning had to suffice. The flower market is located in a large open warehouse and is home to a variety of flowers used to adorn temples, hotel lobbies and restaurants. Inside is bustling with buyers and, surprisingly, the number of tourists is small. I took my time wandering the stalls, enjoying the unique flowers and fragrant smells.
My second market was Chinatown. From the street, the Chinatown market looks unassuming and navigable. That allusion is blown from the second you step off the main road and into the tight alleyways of vendors. I'm generally good with directions, but from the minute I stepped into the world of Bangkok's Chinatown I was completely consumed by the maze. Store after store, street vendor after street vendor; everything blends together. There is barely enough room for two people to stand side by side in most parts of the market, and yet often I found a motorbike coming up behind me. The market sells everything from kids toys to shoes, boneless duck to Louis Vuitton purses. I stuck with more mild purchases, going for a bag of fresh mango and some coconut water. When I had seen all there was to see, I thankfully found my way out of the market and into the open air of Bangkok once again.
In Bangkok and the surrounding area, there is a network of canals for easy transportation in and out of the city. Among these canals have popped up floating markets where people buy and sell wares from their canoes. On my last day in Bangkok I made my way to Damnoen Saduak to experience one of these famous floating markets. The market itself sells mostly food and touristy items, but the experience of riding in a canoe to purchase things is unlike any other. The waterway was packed to the brim with people and canoes, minor canoe collisions were the norm. I purchased a variety of food including fried bananas, spring rolls, and coconut ice cream. Yum!
After all of the markets I have been to in Thailand, I can expertly bargain to bring down the price of goods and I'm pretty good at navigating the endless stalls. I can also say I've spent most of my remaining Thai Baht. Time to move on to the next destination!