Train Night Market Ratchada in Bangkok

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

Budget:
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.

GETTING THERE

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.

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It’s almost half an hour but it’s half an hour in AC!

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.

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If the 9 minute walk is too much you can cut through the nearby mall

LAYOUT

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.

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rows and rows of food and clothes

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.

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An example of some of the more permanent shops

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.

THE SHOPPING

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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

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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.

THE FOOD

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.

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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.

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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.

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OVERALL

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.

-RR

MORE ARTICLES FROM “THAILAND THANKSGIVING”

  1. Introduction: Thailand Thanksgiving
  2. Flight Log: ORD to NRT
  3. Flight Log: NRT to BKK
  4. Short Review: Boxtel BKK
  5. 7-11 in Thailand
  6. Train Night Market Ratchada
  7. Flight Log: DMK to CNX
  8. Playing with Elephants in Chiang Mai
  9. The Saturday Night Market in Chiang Mai
  10. Seeing and Staying in Bangkok

 

7-Eleven in Thailand

Really? 7-11

Absolutely, unknown to many, 7-11 is a cultural icon in Asia rather than the place to get tube shaped “food” and Arizona iced tea late at night. 7-11 sparked a convenience store boom in countries for actually providing convenience. In Asia, you can use your local 7-11 to buy plane tickets, pay taxes, find concert tickets, find food that’s a lot better than what you find in America.

In my travels I found that 7-11 is a great way to grab a quick meal without ruining your budget and even provides a peak into what snacks and foods do the locals enjoy at all times in the night!

So basically this is a short guide telling you what you should check out in a 7-11 in Thailand divided by the popular drink, the onigiri (triangular rice balls found in all 7-11 locations in Asia), and the specialty of the country.

The Drink

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Nectar of the (Energy) Gods

Fun fact – Red Bull originated from Thailand. Some enterprising Austrians discovered the recipe in their travels to the country that they made their own version of it. The one you will find in Thailand is vastly different. In Thailand it’s called Krating Daeng and features eerily similar red bulls ramming into each other. They are sold in much smaller containers looking more like prescription bottles of magical elixir. The taste is sweeter and non carbonated which I find make it go down a lot easier. How powerful is it? Let’s say on my first night in Bangkok I managed to power through a multitude of bars and alcohol and clubs and ended up sleeping at 5am. A new personal record!

The Onigiri

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Just make sure to follow the instructions otherwise you’d bite into wrapper

The Onigiri selection here is not as plentiful as most other 7-11s in Asia. With only 2 options I settled for the Teriyaki Salmon. Which contained hearty chunks of salmon in the bite. Overall it’s not special but when you need to carb load/heal from last night. Like any other onigiri, gets the job done. There is also a spicy cod roe option but since I am not a fan of cod roe I passed on trying it.

The Specialty

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Breakfast of (hungover) Champions

CHEESE. TOASTIES. The life blood of any heavy partier or person who needs that comfort from last night. 7-11 has successfully pushed a variety of cheese toasts into their Thai based 7-11s with a mixed success. The most popular being the sausage cheese version. They are heated up in what looks like Hamilton Beach Panini presses and given to you hot. Other options are the egg, tomato, sausage, cheese which explodes with lava liquid into your mouth and hands. Not really recommended but when it’s 6am, you tend to stop caring 😛

-RR

MORE ARTICLES FROM “THAILAND THANKSGIVING”

  1. Introduction: Thailand Thanksgiving
  2. Flight Log: ORD to NRT
  3. Flight Log: NRT to BKK
  4. Short Review: Boxtel BKK
  5. 7-11 in Thailand
  6. Train Night Market Ratchada
  7. Flight Log: DMK to CNX
  8. Playing with Elephants in Chiang Mai
  9. The Saturday Night Market in Chiang Mai
  10. Seeing and Staying in Bangkok

Short Review: Boxtel in BKK Airport

Landing in the airport at 1am is never ideal, especially with no place to go to. I thought about crashing in the lounges but all I really wanted for just a bed to sleep on.

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And I mean…just look at this immigration line

Enter Boxtel. It’s literally a box with a bed, lamp, outlet, and nothing else. It’s located past the immigration, follow the signs to the Airport Link and then to the transit hotels, Boxtel can be found near the food court. At 1am everything was understandably closed.

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Box, sweet Box

PRICE

You pay by the hour which for me and sleeping for about 7 hours did add up. The final price was a hefty (for Thailand) $50 USD, but I was paying more for convenience than anything else. The staff at 1am seemed very checked out by that point and that made sense. Besides that they were helpful to get me situated in a box.

THE ROOM

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I mean, it’s a box

What’s in the box? Well….a bed, a light, and a place to put your stuff in and nothing much else. They had A/C Blowing through with the only option to either turn it off or turn it on. They mention that there is no shower and no bathroom. For a bathroom you will need to leave your box and use a public bathroom. They did include a giant water bottle as part of the deal which is thoughtful of them.

HOW IT WENT

I got in, stripped off the clothes I had worn for over 20 hours in a plane and went to bed. The bed is surprisingly extremely comfortable and I was able to sleep almost immediately (Tylenol PM may or may not have factored in my comfort).

Just before my 7 hours I had woken up and I felt a sense of being fully rested, Boxtel has been successful at it’s one job. So I guess I’d call that a win in my book.

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You did the trick ol’ Box

OVERALL

Boxtel provides folks flying in the most basic need: a place to sleep, which is all anyone ever needs after being on 2 international flights. The price is a lot, considering I paid significantly less in both of my hostels. But when you just need a bed, it’s better this than nothing else.

-RR

MORE ARTICLES FROM “THAILAND THANKSGIVING”

  1. Introduction: Thailand Thanksgiving
  2. Flight Log: ORD to NRT
  3. Flight Log: NRT to BKK
  4. Short Review: Boxtel BKK
  5. 7-11 in Thailand
  6. Train Night Market Ratchada
  7. Flight Log: DMK to CNX
  8. Playing with Elephants in Chiang Mai
  9. The Saturday Night Market in Chiang Mai
  10. Seeing and Staying in Bangkok

Introduction: Thailand Thanksgiving

CONTENTS

  1. Introduction: Thailand Thanksgiving
  2. Flight Log: ORD to NRT
  3. Flight Log: NRT to BKK
  4. Short Review: Boxtel BKK
  5. 7-11 in Thailand
  6. Train Night Market Ratchada
  7. Flight Log: DMK to CNX
  8. Playing with Elephants in Chiang Mai
  9. The Saturday Night Market in Chiang Mai
  10. Seeing and Staying in Bangkok

 

THOUGHTS

I looked at my work’s vacation spreadsheet and saw that I only had about 4 days to use up. My coworkers had already claimed all of their remaining vacation for the year end. Which means that I will be the one handling the year end madness, okay…

However, I noticed that not too many people have decided to take off on Thanksgiving. My initial thought of traveling during that time would be absolutely insane, it is the busiest travel time in the US.

But not everyone will be traveling internationally during this time, going internationally and combining my 4 vacation days with the company-allotted thanksgiving time off will allow me a whole week of vacation!

I called my sister and confirmed what everyone would be doing and not surprisingly, my family all thought about traveling! For her, she would head to Europe. While my Dad will be heading to India. And my Mom, well…she gets to be happy knowing that she doesn’t have to spend a back breaking holiday cooking some big thanksgiving meal, a vacation in of itself!

As luck would have it, I was able to find cheap airfare to South East Asia. I had already been to Singapore, I figured I’d continue to explore the area even further. Thailand seemed to have really good fares and it helped that those fares came from United. And my first thought was of course, Thai food! I love ordering it to my apartment that I might as well head over there to taste it myself.

BOOKING

With the help of Google Flights I booked directly on United. The final trip cost would be $563.76. Not bad! I used my Chase Sapphire Reserve card and earned x3 points under the travel category for a total of 1691 UR Points!

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While a majority of the journey would be on United, I am glad ANA is there to give me a taste of Asia-based airlines

ROUTE

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I would be taking a roundtrip flight going from ORD-NRT-BKK and back the same way. What I enjoyed about this route is being able to transit through Narita International Airport since they have a much smoother transit process than most other countries would.

Another reason is I would have time in NRT on my return trip and I would be in Terminal 1! Terminal 2 in NRT is never a fun time unless you had decent oneworld status and lounge access. Terminal 1 had a reasonably good Sushi restaurant as well as a large selection of duty free items to pick up for my coworkers! I also have Priority Pass access to the KAL Lounge too.

OVERALL

I was pretty lucky to find that price and route and to have an affordable trip to go on during Thanksgiving break. Personally I won’t miss the turkey….

-RR