Rod Fai Market Srinakarin
There is something special about markets at night, they seem to possess a unique appeal and Talad Rod Fai Srinakarin, aka Train Market Srinakarin (talad means market, rod fai means train), is no exception.
Based close to the Seacon Square mall on Srinakarin Road, Soi 51, in the southwest center of Bangkok in Prawet district, the market is open from Thursday to Sunday, from 5 pm to about 1 am and is well worth the effort to travel to. To reach there you can take the BTS to On Nut or Udomsuk stations and then a taxi ride of around 20 minutes to arrive at the market, of course, depending on traffic conditions. If you are more familiar with the area, you can take one of the many red songthaews (literally means “two rows” of seats on the red passenger pickup trucks) from the stops on Soi Udomsuk which are a short walk from the nearby BTS station.
When you reach your destination, you will enjoy what is regarded by many as the second largest market after Chatuchak Weekend Market. Here is an engaging diversity of old and new items from trendy clothes and second-hand garments to furniture, trinkets, barbers, a fascinating range of antique vehicles in excellent condition, home décor, and (it sounds a terrible cliché, but) so much more.
There is only one pedestrian entrance and things can be a little confusing on your first visit. The layout is not a single style, but a combination of sheltered areas, pop-up tents, rows of shop houses, warehouses, etc., but it all adds to the unique charm of the market.
Enter through a mix of small shops close to the main road and at the southern end of the market, and prepare to discover the antique section at the back. Although it can be crowded, there is a buzzing atmosphere and one factor which sets Rod Fai Market apart from others is that many of the antique shops are operating from fixed buildings rather than stalls.
The night market is famous for its “vintage” theme and has a multitude of items from the ’50s to ’80s on display and plenty of opportunities to take pictures with the classic cars. The cars and props decorated throughout the market belongs to Pairod “Rod” Roikaew, the owner of the market – a successful businessman who started his career as a dealer of antiques in Chatuchak market. Business was so good he expanded from one store to several, and had enough money to rent out an old warehouse yard with train tracks located adjacent to Chatuchak from the State Railway of Thailand to start his own night market with a vintage theme.
In 2013, the expansion of the BTS line forced its closure and many feared the worst for the market’s future. However, Pairod’s decision to move to its current and more developed home in Srinakarin has seen the Rod Fai Market rise again. The trains may have gone, but the name remains.
There are numerous bars dotted around the place, some on rooftops and most of them with live performers trying to entice visitors to their particular venue. They are a prominent feature at the Rod Fai Market where you can chill out and lean against an actual wall of a permanent drinking establishment or perch on a stool and almost rub shoulders with a camper van which has been cleverly converted into a temporary cocktail outlet.
Food stalls abound and for some reason cheese appears to be a specific culinary theme with cheese balls, chips – as in fries (I’m English) – dipped in cheese, and even cheese-covered chicken wings. I do recommend the delicious and refreshing smoothies. Expect to see and taste the usual great breadth of Thai dishes from stir fries and curries to papaya salad and yummy desserts.
Rod Fai Market is well patronized by locals while still relatively unknown to tourists so the ambience is more of a traditional, yet contemporary Thai night market. The cool air, funky tunes and retro areas make for memorable vibes. Prices are generally cheaper than other more conventional markets with many displaying how much things are, reducing the need to keep asking for the price.
Talad Rod Fai Srinakarin is a fun mix of trendy, traditional, tasty and tremendous, and believe me, it demands more than one visit, back with a bang in Bangkok!