Shop Till You Drop at Chatuchak

  |  Gorp.com

Welcome to the realm of extreme shopping: Chatuchak Weekend Market is an overwhelming 35 acres of consumer heaven (or hell, depending on your feelings about mass capitalism). Though there are many outdoor markets throughout Asia, from Bali to Vietnam, nothing beats this one.

Located by the Mo Chit stop on the Sky Train, a maze of 15,000 stalls turn shopping into an adventure race where tourists must navigate through nearly 200,000 people to find the goods. The prize: unusual art, cheap knock-off backpacks, fake Birkenstocks, and rice-paper lamps, and 1,001 other items competing for your bhat.

Important tip for those who brave it: Get a copy of Nancy's Chandler's Map of Bangkok (www.nancychandler.net). This farang—as Thais label foreigners—guidebook is unlike any other you'll find, with detailed hand-drawn maps in bright pinks and yellows noting the various sections in Chatuchak, so you won't waste a lot of time in the dead animal section when you really want to find yourself a cool pair of handmade sandals.

Even if you aren't a huge shopper, you will inevitably find yourself weighed down with bags after navigating your way through the market as the deals here are unbeatable. But there's some respite for compulsive shoppers: the Thailand postal service recently opened an outlet in the market to help over-laden market rats. Drop your goods off by 2 p.m. and you can expect your swag to be delivered to your hotel by the next afternoon. Most market stalls open Friday nights (though some shopping is available during the day), and from 9 a.m. to sunset Saturdays and Sundays.


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