Market Buzz in Klong Toey
In addition to many other positives, Bangkok is blessed with many and varied markets. These come in all shapes and sizes from regular, fixed, standing night and day markets, ad-hoc street versions, pop-up examples, traditional style, modern high-end, and sometimes just a few stalls set up almost spontaneously outside a shopping mall or along a footpath.
Talad Klong Toey (talad means market) is worth a visit. Regarded as the biggest fresh market in the city, the market is open 24 hours every day, with vendors taking turns with the spaces, but the best time to go would be from 6 am to about 2 am. This market is almost like a small town inside a city with its sprawling network of stalls selling virtually everything from fresh fruit, herbs, and vegetables, meat, and insects to live frogs, ducks, chickens, stationery, clothes, and countless other items in between.
Particularly recommended are the giant river prawns and crabs, one of the key factors is that the food is fresh, with delivery vans arriving at regular intervals unloading more stock throughout the day. Many of the items sold here can be half the price of similar products in more affluent areas such as Thong Lor.
This is an authentic fresh market shopping experience in the raw, and not for the faint hearted. This is a place where the locals go – it is always hot, noisy, wet, smelly, and crowded. Do not expect all neatly arranged displays and genteel surroundings with calorie content labels or gluten free advice. It is eclectic and hectic with jostling masses of vendors and customers. It is not all as chaotic as it might first appear, as different areas are categorized by the goods or the food sold. After a while, what initially may seem like a maze, takes on some familiarity.
Watch out for the trolleys and large wicker baskets pushed by the market staff as they won’t stop for you. Make sure you wear proper footwear too, not flip flops, as the floors are very often slippery and dirty.
Also be careful for the hoses wielded by some of the staff in the seafood aisles, as you might receive an impromptu shower. Be prepared to see workers flailing at piles of meat and fish with their plastic bags on sticks in repeated attempts to keep the hosts of flies away. This gives new meaning to the “buzz” of a market.
The sellers are helpful and friendly, and if you can’t speak Thai, using body language and indicating what you want usually gets the right results. Do not be afraid to try and haggle for a better price if you can. If the walk around is too tiring, then there are many ready-to -eat food stalls where you can sit down and enjoy some tasty green curry and other popular Thai dishes.
The market is very accessible, located on Rama IV Road and close to Klong Toey MRT station. From the station, walk east on Thang Rotfai Sai Kao/Rama IV Road for about 10 minutes until you reach the intersection of Rama IV and Narong Road. The market is on your right-hand side. Parking spaces are also available across the market, next to the Stock Exchange of Thailand, but if you come at night, you can easily park right in front.
Klong Toey market is the real deal for tourists and locals alike. If you want to immerse yourself in a sensory-filled, glamor-free, genuine, unpretentious example of a working Thai market, this is the place for you with plenty of photo opportunities, too. Once visited, never forgotten!