Talad Rot Fai: Bangkok's Vintage Bazaar Giants




To say that Thailand is known for its open-air night markets and bazaars would be an understatement. Thailand’s economy is dependent on the existence of these bazaars; furthermore, the significance of these bazaars lies not only on its touristic properties, but also on the cultural and operational importance to the capital city. The talad rot fai, or train night markets, encompass many of the highlights visitors would expect in their Bangkok expedition: local restaurants, up and coming entrepreneurs, hawkers, thrifters, short-stay tourists, bar-owners and so much more. These massive bazaars fulfill each of their own unique purposes and are frequently visited for different reasons.

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Talad Rot Fai Srinakarin (Train Night Market Srinakarin)

The Talad Rot Fai Srinakarin, or Train Night Market Srinakarin is one of the most popular night markets for foreigners. Despite being smaller than Chatuchak Market, there is just something about this particular market that is so attractive to the newcomers of Bangkok. People from all over the world who have never set foot on Thailand may have heard of the unique ambiance that can only be found at the Srinakarin branch. Thus, this is often the first place locals recommend to visitors hoping to get a taste of the Thai bazaars. The makeup of the Srinakarin branch can be explained simply by saying it is ‘a combination of the highlights of Bangkok's other famous bazaars: the great and rare local foods at the Ratchada branch, the unique vintage shopping experience at Chatuchak market, and the youthful, energetic aura of Artbox—all present at the Srinakarin branch. Those into thrifting streetwear and ‘hype culture’ will find themselves completely entranced by the vintage section of the market, where “high-end thrift stores” sell rare pieces such as vintage basketball shirts, second-hand Supreme tees, OG AJ1s from the 90’s, and the likes all throughout. For those looking to etch a piece of Bangkok onto themselves, various tattoo parlours flock the Srinakarin branch. Not to mention, one such parlour, the Smile Club, is one of the best parlours where many Thai celebrities frequent for its trademark smiley design as well as the custom client design brought to life by their fantastic tattoo artists.

 

Photo credit: De Botan Sri Nakharin https://www.debotan.com/attractions/train-night-market-srinakarin/

Talad Rot Fai Ratchada (Train Night Market Ratchada)

 

Those who have been to both the Srinakarin branch and the Ratchada branch of Talad Rot Fai will immediately notice that both markets are part of the same project, hence, the vintage collections and general atmosphere of the Ratchada branch being similar to its larger counterpart. Where the Ratchada branch differs would be the food stalls—locals will often recognise this branch from the food portions that can be found here. In fact, the Ratchada branch is famous for the massive renditions of classic Thai dishes, some examples being ผัดกระเพราะถาด(pad kra pao thad / tray sized basil stir-fry) and ผัดไทยถาด(pad thai thad / tray sized pad thai). Apart from these giant meals, there are also a variety of different dishes found here that are a perfect representation of the best of Thai street food such as กุ้งถัง(kung thang / bucket shrimp), which is an absolute must-try for seafood lovers. The dish consists of grilled river prawns and shrimp, sauced with a thick special dressing served in a bucket, and poured over your table to be had using gloves.

 

To depart from the subject of food, the Ratchada Branch offers the same cozy yet lively atmosphere that can be found at many night markets. The vintage shopping section, while being smaller in size compared to most of the other markets, has all the rarities and attractive thrift stores to make the shopping experience worth a trip on its own. On top of all that, the Ratchada branch is one of the more accessible locations in comparison to the other bazaars, being a 2-minute walk from the MRT Thailand Cultural Center station.

 

 

 

Photo credit: https://th.airbnb.com/rooms/29030858

 

One important thing to take note of before going on a shopping spree at one of these markets is to make sure you know how to barter properly. Although some tips that can be seen on travel guides suggest that all prices are at markup and that you should default to asking for 30% lower than the stated price, it is not a good idea as this can be considered quite rude and no shopkeeper is going to take you seriously (this is not MBK). That being said, when shopping for expensive vintage pieces, the shopkeepers should be more amiable and therefore bartering (within reason) is highly recommended.