on January 11, 2008
A magical gate into the Thai culture, the Chatuchak Weekend Market is one of the most enjoyable attractions in Bangkok.AccessFew spots in the city are so accessible: the Skytrain, the subway and practically all the buses reaching Mo Chit - Bangkok's accessible bus terminal - reach the market. Activity HoursThe market is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 7am until the last customer leaves; during the weekdays, only counted stalls in the central structure are open. TimingDue to the crowds and the narrow alleys, the place can get unpleasantly hot; hence, arriving early in the morning is recommended. Despite that, the place is completely safe; the only danger is loosing a friend in one of the endless alleys.The MarketThe market is one of the world's biggest ones and offers practically every good produced in the kingdom, from high quality silk, through birds waiting to be free in the Buddhist fashion, and ending in wooden carvings. Even jewels - especially the colored stones so favored by the Thais - can be bought here.With around ten thousand booths, it is impossible to cover the market in a single visit, but that vast richness is what makes this market unique and worthy. An entertaining aspect of the market, are the endless variation of tactics used by the stalls to call the attention of potential buyers, from making unusual noises to wearing strange clothes.The crowds filling the narrow alleys are as varied as the merchandise, ranging from merchants from far away Thai provinces to "farangs," the long nosed visitors from all the globe's corners. A good place to socialize with the locals is the many food stalls selling everything from typical Thai snacks to beverages of strange colors and tastes.PricesThe prices here are substantially lower than elsewhere in Bangkok, but higher than in the provinces where the goods originate. However, the opportunity to compare and choose among vast quantities of similar products more than compensates for that.BargainingBargaining is an expected and enjoyable part of the experience. After spotting a worthy item, relax, and show the shopkeeper your best smile while pointing at it. A price would be announced. Now is the moment for showing a respectable state of shock and asking for twenty percent of the mentioned price by the shopkeeper.After enjoying the vendor's shocked face, continue the ritual until an agreement is reached. A forty to fifty percent of the original price can be reached with a bit of patience and humor. A good negotiating tactic is learning the Thai numbers and bargaining afterwards like a local; the sellers would enjoy so much the tones mispronunciations that a better price is guaranteed.
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