In short: There are many night markets around Bangkok but while some are borderline NSFW (Patpong) or just full of backpackers (Khao San Road). The Train Night Market Ratchada marries the old and new in a way that is uniquely Bangkok
5-10 USD: Can get you comfortably fed on street food stalls and a drink or 2
11-20 USD: Eat to your hearts content with freshly made seafood and some beer
21-30 USD: Live like a king, maybe even hit up a bar or buy some hipster clothes
Bangkok is big, very big. At times it can be overwhelming with the sheer amount of stuff to do. But as you go around you find yourself running into a theme: this is a tourist city. Temples littered with tour guides, plazas catering to the sex tourists, touts on most corners. It makes you wonder: where do the Thai people go? And more importantly where do they go EAT!
At the Train Night Market Ratchada, you find what looks to be a more modern style of night market which caters itself to the younger, yuppie crowd. A place for folks to shop and make bargains and to eat a variety of food.
Since my hostel was close to Nana Plaza, we could easily walk to the Bangkok Metro. For about 21 THB ($0.64) you can take a train from Sukhumvit station to the Thai Cultural Centre stop.
Get off and follow the signs to the Night Market. I had a small fear that this might be a tourist trap but what I found it was far from it.
Once inside you find a carnival of sights. Full scale bars with live music, shops that cater to the local hipsters: Metal Music themed Burgers, Jeans with a post apocalyptic theme, Tattoo parlors, and multi-level bars.
The Train Market is divided into rows, the first 5 rows from the right are food while the remaining rows are for clothes, electronics, and anything else. In the back is where you will find the more permanent buildings that are boutique hair stylists or clothing stores.
At the time we had went the crowds wasn’t much and we were able to pass through and walk around comfortably without being “stuck in traffic”
The market opens at around 5pm and ends roughly around 1am with some flexibility depending on when businesses decide to pack up.
My friend I met in the hostel went around checking out the small clothes shops. I found it quite refreshing the lack of touristy stores selling the basic “I ❤ Bangkok” or other kitschy items. The majority of the shops around was selling women’s wear, most of which has a distinct Korean or Japanese fashion influence. Bargaining seems to be pretty well accepted so you are bound to come out on top of the savings
Apart from clothes, you can also find electronics of various quality and legitimacy. Personally I usually try to find an electronics store before risking my phone or laptop with whatever I buy outside. There is also a handful of shops selling nuts and candy for people to take home with them.
With around 5 full rows of food you will find that it’s almost impossible to leave hungry. The main attraction I found is the seafood. For roughly 11-20 USD (neighboring vendors like to compete!) you can order a large plate full of oysters, shrimps, and clams. Many of the stalls offer their own quirks such as serving food in a bag mixed with various spices and flavors. They give you all the tools you need and even include disposable gloves to grab and nosh down without getting your mitts messy.
But I am a frugal street food guy so for me the start to any meal has to be coconut. For around 30 Baht or less you can get your hands on a delicious coconut. For me it’s a good start to the food adventure and can be pretty refreshing no matter the temperature.
Another good option is the stuffed roti, this carb heavy dish can be either sweet or savory, mostly sweet. Pick what you want inside (for me it was egg and cheese) and it will be cooked with a mix of butter AND oil. They even offer chocolate or condensed milk on top, yes even for the savory option. This I had to share, it was very heavy with carbs and fat and can be greasy. Not my favorite but I’d turn the other cheek if I had more alcohol in me.
Grilled meats are always in supply, my favorite being the chicken and pork meatballs. Do NOT be like me and eat the ones with bits of green and orange thinking it’s just onion and carrot. Those are the colors of Thai chilies! And it is spicy but the pain is so much more pleasurable with the sour spicy sauce thrown in! Word of warning, this is served with sharp skewers that can stab through your plastic carrying bag so careful where you poke 😉
But for me the start of the show is the Kanom Tuay. These steamed warm discs of coconut pudding and a pandan jelly bottom is a perfect ending to my food adventure. My friend and I agreed, this is something we can keep eating and never get tired of. I wanted to eat this slowly and with little bites because once it was gone I was, very reasonably, sad.
The great enjoyment of this night market is balance. Somehow they managed to combine something for tourists and the local yuppie crowd. It’s a place to grab some food, shop, and just enjoy walking around like any night market. But what sets it a part for me is the sheer diversity in those categories that makes me want to come back for more and many times over.
MORE ARTICLES FROM “THAILAND THANKSGIVING”
- Introduction: Thailand Thanksgiving
- Flight Log: ORD to NRT
- Flight Log: NRT to BKK
- Short Review: Boxtel BKK
- 7-11 in Thailand
- Train Night Market Ratchada
- Flight Log: DMK to CNX
- Playing with Elephants in Chiang Mai
- The Saturday Night Market in Chiang Mai
- Seeing and Staying in Bangkok