I love Chatuchak in Bangkok. It’s something like 26 acres of market, and you can find everything from housewares to fashion to the best damn coconut ice cream you can get for a dollar. I actively miss it when I haven’t been for a while, so it’s good that I got to go last weekend.
Bangkok itself is saturated with designers and small labels, and a lot of them make their way into Chatuchak, or as it’s locally know, JJ market. Our buddies over at TA.THA.TA have a shop in section 4, alongside other brands that are starting to focus more on craftsmanship and quality goods. Not exactly what you would expect from a market that sells 50baht man-tanks with Che Guevara’s likeness, so it’s a nice surprise.
The thing that quells my excitement about this treasure hunt mecca, is that it’s hot. Not like “ooh, I’m a little warm” hot, but like “I can see heat waves rising from the pavement and I can’t tell if there is sweat dripping into my eyes or if I am actually crying” hot. I have about a 90 minute window at JJ, and I rarely go without a plan. I hit up section 2,3, and 4, circled on the map below for your convenience.
Rather than aimlessly walking through this spastic, happy, stinky maze, I have put together a list of some of my favorite spots. Before you start, make sure you get coconut ice cream. You do not want to start this adventure un-sugared.
Gorgeous leather sandals with a high-end vibe, that will run you about 30 bucks. A few really nice ladies run this shop, and are very happy to help you with fit, style, and any adjustments you need.
Section 3 Soi 46/1 no. 275 (near MRT Kampangpeth) and Section 5 Soi 54/2 no. 106 (gate 3)
This shop is named after the famed vintage shopping street in London, but has the opposite vibe. It’s full of clean lines, simple, modern color schemes and is even air-conditioned. It doesn’t smell like Mick Jagger even a little bit.
Section 3, Soi 45/2
Cork! Cork everywhere! But in a really great way. These cool guys bring in their materials from Portugal, and create gorgeous bags, notebooks, wallets and other goodies out of cork. One of the owners is also the brother of the female lead at TA.THA.TA, so cool design genes must run in the family.
Section 3 soi 43/1
This shop stocks menswear, but if I want to wear a shirt with sharks on it, you better believe I will. This company stocks really well made pieces, that run a few more dollars that you are used to spending in markets. They manage to tow the line between “Hooray! That is hilarious on a t-shirt” and “Whoa, I probably don’t need that on a t-shirt.” It’s good stuff.
Section2 Soi 40/2 Room No.236
Yes, we probably should have grown out of silly t-shirts. I probably should have done a lot of things, why would I ever pass up DOG BANANA? Caramel is run by two sisters who love animals and like dreaming up hilarious scenarios for them. I like that you can make a business out of this. Bless Thailand.
This is another cool mens-ish place that I like to shop. They specialize in putting weird, puffy, embroidery on otherwise very nice materials. If you need a sweatshirt with The Little Mermaid on it, this is your shop. I happen to be partial to the polar bear, because I like that they are so cute but will absolutely rip your face off. The guys will point out that the button down you are trying on is for men, only. Just pretend you don’t speak English.
These ladies are class-y. The make stunning bags, watches, wallets and other things I didn’t have enough baht for. The shop is lovely and made me feel like a clumsy backpacker immediately. (Which I haven’t been for NINE years, thanks for that “memory” Facebook.) They sell online as well, so if you need time to deliberate if you want to stay in the nice hotel or buy a purse, you can. That being said, they keep everything below $150ish, so it won’t cause any permanent damage to your wallet.
I wish you happy, slightly-less sweaty shopping.