Chatuchak weekend market is all kinds of crazy.
And that’s saying something in Bangkok.
Also known as JJ market and Jatujak market, it’s home to more than 8,000 market stalls over 35 acres making it one of the largest outdoor markets in the world.
The barely organized chaos of Chatuchak is incredibly popular with tourists and locals alike — and with good reason. This place is spilling over with things to buy — from the bizarre to the beautiful and the practical in between.
Yes, you’re definitely going to get lost in the labyrinth at some point, and no, you can probably put down that map as it ain’t gonna help you in here… But we’ve compiled everything we know about this gloriously topsy-turvy pandemonium in a bid to help you have a great experience there.
Let’s find out more…
How To Get To Chatuchak Market Bangkok
Situated in the north of Bangkok, Chatuchak is easily reached — a trip to Mo Chit station on the BTS Skytrain will get you there. Be sure to take exit 1 from the station and you’ll see a stream of people all headed in the right direction.
Alternatively, you can take the MRT to Chatuchak Park station and follow the crowds.
If you prefer a more comfortable way to get there you can always take a taxi — it’s certainly a good way of getting back to your hotel when you’re weighed down with shopping bags, although traffic in this area can be gnarly, so be prepared for long stretches behind barely moving cars and buses.
Opening hours are Friday between 18:00 – 24:00 and Saturday and Sunday between 09:00 – 18:00.
Chatuchak: What’s On Sale?
JJ Market is a veritable maze of internal and external passageways, but you can pick up a map at the entrance to help you find your way around.
Alternatively, you can buy the Nancy Chandler map of Bangkok, which has got an awesome market map of Chatuchak that’s arguably much easier to follow than the official one.
Chatuchak market is loosely divided into 27 sections, although you will often find things jumbled up:
Section 1 – Here you’ll find jewellery, books, and collectibles, plus some food shops and cafés.
Sections 2 to 4 – You’ll stand a good chance of finding some great souvenirs in this bohemian section which includes little boutiques run by local Thai designers. Shop for home décor, paintings, and handicrafts.
Sections 5 to 6 – Rummage here for vintage clothes and accessories – as well as some modern ones too. This is the area to visit if you’re looking for denim.
Sections 7 to 9 – Want something for your home? These sections have a wide selection of antiques, art, furniture, and ceramics, as well as plants and gardening equipment.
Section 10 to 24 – Satisfy your passion for fashion with the wide range of new clothes and accessories in these sections. You’ll also find consumer products, household appliances and treats, toys, clothes and other accessories for your pets.
Section 17 to 19 – There’s a good selection of ceramics here, plus fresh and dry food goods to take home or nibble on as you explore the rest of the market.
Section 22 to 26 – Head here for yet more antiques, furniture, clothing, jewellery and handicrafts.
Section 27 – Books and collectibles can be found in this section, as well as shops selling food and sweet treats.
Here’s a cracking video tour of the market if you prefer things a little more visual:
It is fittingly bizarre that a little outside the main market you will also find a vast tropical fish and exotic pet market, with some specimens selling for over $20,000.
This market has one of the most extraordinary collections of live aquarium fish anywhere in the world, so it’s well worth making the detour to take a look.
Also woven throughout the market are stalls selling a variety of domestic pets, including puppies, kittens, reptiles, squirrels and sugar gliders, as well as a variety of birds.
You’ll almost certainly ooh and aah at these beautiful animals, but there are ethical and practical issues to consider before you lay down 5,000 baht for a Pomeranian puppy that we’ll discuss shortly.
Making the Best of JJ Market
There are no fixed prices at Chatuchak market, and stall holders can drive a hard bargain. Be prepared to haggle. Keep the maximum price you are willing to pay fixed in your mind and don’t go any higher.
The best time to get a discount is when the shops have just opened — Thais are very superstitious and believe the first sale of the day is the most important.
In any case, Chatuchak is much more palatable in the morning, when the crowds are thinner and the rays of the sun a little weaker.
Be aware that many vendors who claim to sell genuine products — particularly antiques — are not necessarily to be trusted, so don’t spend a lot of cash unless you really know your stuff or you have an expert on hand to check for you.
And, of course, it’s best to restrict yourself to purchases that you can easily take home in your baggage — shipping objects out of Thailand can be a bit of a hassle if you’re not au fait with the situation.
Being a tourist also makes you a target for pickpockets in this busy and bustling market, so keep valuables and wallets safe at all times. You’ll see many people wearing their rucksacks on their fronts, or even bum bags to keep their belongings safe.
The cute fluffy pets and exotic wildlife on sale in the market are hard to resist, but think carefully before you cave in — particularly in the case of dogs which often come from the cruel environment of puppy farms and might be sold with various birth defects.
It’s not unheard of for Chatuchak-bought pets to be beset by health and behavioral problems, and even have a much-reduced life expectancy thanks to the suffering of their early lives here.
If you do decide to buy a pet, check regulations beforehand that you will be able to take them back to your home country when you leave Thailand.
Many places, including Europe and Australia, will require a lengthy quarantine period and rabies titer tests for your animals before they’re allowed into the country. At the very least, this will be costly and emotionally taxing.
Plus, the simple cost of just flying your pet back home is an expensive and stressful experience — for both you and your new furry friend.
Get there early to avoid the hordes and to benefit from the cooler temperatures before the day has a chance to heat up. Keep yourself hydrated — water only costs 10 THB and there are plenty of delicious smoothie stalls to choose from too.
A fresh, young coconut will also go down pretty well on a hot day — be sure to check out all the stalls selling them!
Most importantly of all, make sure that you dive in and embrace the madness. Chatuchak weekend market is a shopping experience like no other and it will likely remain a lasting memory of your trip to Bangkok — have fun!
JJ Night Market
If you like the idea of exploring Chatuchak but the idea of the tourist hordes and hot hot heat is putting you off, consider visiting the Friday night version of the market on JJ Green instead.
This is much more relaxed than the market you’ll find on Saturdays and Sundays, and it generally enjoys a more local clientele and relaxed atmosphere.
As well as the artwork, crafts and local fashions that make an experience at Chatuchak so worth it, there’s a much bigger emphasis on vintage and second-hand goods here. As well as the established stalls and shophouses, you’ll find a lot of vendors laying down blankets and selling their wares spontaneously where they can find a little bit of space.
Thanks to the more local feel of JJ Green, prices tend to be lower and require less negotiating.
JJ Night Market could well be the perfect place to spend a Friday night in Bangkok.
It’s actually open from Thursday to Sunday, from 5pm to around midnight, with many drinking haunts open later still. There’s a huge selection of food and drinks stalls, so you can really make a night of it.
If you’re interested to learn more, read our guide to Bangkok’s best night markets.
Hotels near Chatuchak Weekend Market
Found in the north of Bangkok and outside of the tourist areas means that there are not a huge wealth of hotels in the immediate vicinity of JJ market, but there’s certainly enough to go around.
One of the benefits of staying near Chatuchak is that hotel prices are often much cheaper than in the centralized tourist areas.
If you’re looking for a cheap location in the Mo Chit and Chatuchak area, the Ora Hostel is worth a look.
There is a mix of rooms on offer, both private and dormitory, and they’re all air conditioned with free WiFi access.
- 700 metres from Chatuchak weekend market
- Air-conditioned rooms
- Free WiFi
- Shared kitchen
- 28 rooms, including private doubles and bunk beds in mixed dorms
- Airport shuttle to Don Mueang International Airport
- BBQ facilities
- Very low price
- 2 minutes to Saphan Kwai BTS station
The Sukosol, located just a short walk from Phaya Thai BTS station, is a great hotel near Chatuchak weekend market that’s still in central Bangkok. It’s also not fair from the shopping hubs of Siam and Chit Lom.
It offers traditional Thai luxury at an affordable price, with some cracking dining outlets on site too.
- 5 km from Chatuchak market Bangkok
- 3 minutes from Phaya Thai BTS station and Airport Rail Link
- 1 street from Pratunam Market
- 5* luxury hotel
- Family rooms available
- Outdoor pool, gym and spa
- Free WiFi throughout property
- Traditional Thai teak aesthetics
- 5 onsite restaurants
Another luxury hotel that’s nearby Chatuchak market is the Swissotel Le Concorde.
You’ll need to hop on the MRT at Huai Khwang station and ride it to Chatuchak Park — just five stops away. The hotel is slightly outside of central Bangkok, but is in easy reach of a few golf courses and Don Muang international airport.
- 3.7 km from Jatujak weekend Market
- 5* luxury hotel
- 2 minutes from Huai Khwang MRT
- Large outdoor pool, spa, fitness centre
- 4 onsite restaurants and bar
- Shopping arcade
- 30 minutes from various golf courses
- Family rooms available
Have you been to Chatuchak Weekend Market?
Featured image includes photo by Jirka Matousek (CC BY 2.0 licence)