Do you love fresh food markets? If so, you will want to visit Khlong Toei Market. Khlong Toei Market is located near the popular expat enclave of Thanon Sukhumvit and is listed by many people as one of the ‘must-visit’ markets in Bangkok for fresh food lovers. In fact, most of your food served during your stay in Bangkok will probably have been purchased here.
Khlong Toei means “Pandan Leaf Canal”. Pandan leaf is a fragrant leaf used to flavour Thai sweets and freshen the air however the canal smells somewhat different these days.
In January 2010 CNN listed Khlong Toei Market as one of the most authentic markets in Bangkok (as well as a place to avoid when hung over – some sections are not for the squeamish). Khlong Toei Market is a very ‘fresh’ market, offering cheap raw meat, seafood, produce, and some other bits and pieces like clothing and kitchenware. Deep within the concrete jungle of Bangkok this little village precinct is tucked away not far from busy Rama IV Road but retains a different, more laid-back feel. Some sections can get a bit bloody and raw but don’t stress, there’s other fruit and vegetable sections to explore. Your guide can help you find what you really want to see the most.
A seemingly chaotic jumble of stalls and pavilions casts a busy web over a huge area where porters and motor cyclists weave their way through the crowded lanes. Khlong Toei Market is a photographer’s dream, packed with shouting vendors spruiking their live produce, fresh fruit and vegetables, and hot food. Eye-opening and enthralling, it’s a great insight into how locals live – and where your food comes from. There are a lot of produce being carted around and they won’t stop for you so be on your guard. If all that action and looking at ingredients makes you hungry, it’s easy to grab a snack at the market.
The very raw (and a little confronting) fresh meat section includes whole animals, huge piles of intestines and pig feet amongst plenty of other offal and other weird and exotic meats. The stench can be overwhelming if you’re not used to it but it’s a normal part of life for the locals here!. Various kinds of birds come plucked ready to cook and some are still waddling around in cages. It’s possible to buy a live duck to take home for dinner! There really is everything here including some things you won’t be used to like cow placenta, frogs and rats, and fruits you won’t have seen before. It wouldn’t be a Thai market without a range of insects for the adventurous. Thailand is famous for fruits like sweet tamarind, rose apples and seedless guavas which you can get here. The avocados and yellow watermelons are must try.
The seafood section is a wildly different experience to most markets in most countries. Some of the fish are still flapping away on the benches as the stall owners splash water over them without regard for passers-by. You might get wet!
You’ll also find mountains of curry pastes, pungent shrimp pastes and the ubiquitous fermented fish sauce among the pre-prepared goods. There’s also a beautiful section filled with fresh flowers.
Things to remember about Khlong Toei market
- Although the market is near the expat enclave of Sukhumvit, this market is in a different world to the glitz and glamor of the nearby district.
- You’re welcome to take photos, just don’t get in anyone’s way.
- It’s best to leave your nice shoes in the hotel. There’re puddles of dubious origin all over the place and stall owners aren’t shy with water. There are huge crowds during the busy hours so let your guide advise you in the best and safest way to approach a visit to Khlong Toei Market.
- The market isn’t air conditioned and can be very hot in the daytime.
- Khlong Toei Market is open virtually 24 hours, but best times are 6am to 2am daily.
There’s nothing glamorous about Khlong Toei market but be prepared for an eye opening and truly authentic Thai experience. If you want to visit Khlong Toei market it’s best you talk to us at Your Thai Guide so we can guide you through the experience.
For avid market goers there are plenty more markets nearby to add to your day like Sukhumvit Soi 38 Night Food Market or maybe try finishing the day at Train Night Market Ratchada.
If the market thing gets a bit much you could try breaking up the day a bit with a visit to some nearby parks like Benjakitti Park or Lumphini Park.