JJ Market or Chatuchak is well known and cherished by both locals and tourists in Bangkok. Many brave the heat of the city to go and frequent this enormous outdoor market area. There are many good deals and you can find all sorts of things at very reasonable prices. Home décors, plants, food and refreshments can be found all around as the stalls are open all week round. However, the peak period is during the weekend, when you can find an array of clothing amongst other things.
So many shops and stalls to visit
You can spend hours browsing through stalls and small shops. Whether you are looking for something for yourself or gifts for others, you are sure to find something in JJ Market. If you are looking to buy something for your girlfriends, Yu Factory is a great store. There is a large variation of aromatherapy oils for use with diffusers, from mild and delicate fragrances to the tangy and exotic. Take for example lavender and lemongrass aroma oil mix, a fusion of Western and Eastern favourites in a bottle. Instead of buying the whole diffuser set, you can also buy refill bottles. The shop also sells some incense and fruity smelling soaps, shaped in the form of different fruits.
On the home décor front, there are many shops that sell colourful fairy lights, the kind you would expect to see at a chilled summer party. They will also let you test the lights so you can see how they look like when lit. Some stores sell small interior items such as seating and coffee tables. Depending on the stores, some of the designs are inspired by Thai motifs, while some designs are modern and airy.
JJ Market is a good place for art hunting, from paintings to ceramics and clothing. Sometimes you can find works from talented unknown and emerging local artists in the market. For those who like t-shirts with original designs, keep an eye out for Chapter 1. The original colourful artworks by Thai artist Preau are printed on t-shirts of various sizes. Manga-styled illustrations of animals and original character designs will make the perfect gift for comic lovers. You can ask to have a look at the store’s design folder to view all the available designs. Each design is also available in three different colours.
An area of JJ Market is also dedicated to the selling of pets, however, things can sometimes stray into the gray area. Most shops do not allow you to take any photographs and sometimes wild animals are being sold. Even if you live in Thailand and are looking for a new pet, it is best not to buy an animal here to avoid getting in trouble with the law.
Something for gourmets
JJ Weekend Market is not only about shopping. There is plenty of local delicacies to try out from savories to sweets. Various stalls sell fresh fruits and ice follies made from fizzy drinks and Thai tea, a local’s favorite drink made from a very aromatic black tea and sweetened with condensed milk. However, another favourite local treat is coconut ice-cream. Coconut JJ is a stall that specialises in delicious coconut ice-cream. In addition, you can choose to have various toppings with your ice-cream such as sticky rice, peanuts, sweet corn to name a few.
If you are looking for savories and something a bit exotic, you can try fried squid egg with chilli. The lightly fried squid eggs taste similar to squids but softer in texture. Topped with fresh chilli flakes and lime juice, its appetizing taste makes for a tasty snack. These are usually served in small plastic cups with a plastic fork. The squid eggs are sold in the area in the centre of the market where you can find seating with where various food stalls flock together.
The best way to get there is via MRT, also known as the underground train. You can take it from any station, going towards the Bang Sue direction. Get off at Kampeang Phet station and you will be able to walk out straight into the market. Be prepared for the temperature shock, the nice cool air from inside the train will quickly vanish as soon as you step out. The journey takes about 15 minutes from the city centre.
You can also get there with BTS or skytrain to Mo Chit station and take exit number one at the station. If you are driving there, you can park at Park & Ride opposite JJ Market on Kampaeng Phet road 3. The parking fee is 40 THB (approx 1.11 USD), regardless of the hours that you park there.
One thing to take note is that the toilet facilities are not widespread. There are some by the MRT station exit, some to the north of the exit and then some to the eastern end of the market. It is advisable to use the facilities inside the MRT station but be aware that most of those places do not provide any toilet paper, so it is wise to have some tissue paper with you.
To shop is to go on a treasure hunt
Walking around the market can be tiring due to the heat and the crowd but there is plenty of refreshments along the way. Quite a few shops will sell similar looking items and some shops may have more than one storefront in the market. However, with some effort, you are likely to find some very original designs, whether it is a unique print on a piece of clothing or a beautiful home décor item. This is one of the charms of JJ Weekend Market, it can sometimes feel a bit like a treasure hunt, and it sure feels great when you land yourself a unique piece. Shopping at JJ Weekend Market is somehow a lot more satisfying than visiting one of the too many malls in Bangkok. All the hustle bustle and the locals from all walks of life is a refreshing change from the sterile, air-conditioned high-end retail spaces.
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