Night markets are an Asian specialty, and we got a taste of what Thai night market looks (and tastes) like thanks to TAT Philippines! We already know that Thailand is a steaming hot hub of great food finds and great flea market deals, but finding all those treats in that single “train market” is quite the unforgettable treat.
One of the most well-known night markets in Bangkok is the Talad Rod Fai Srinakarin, a large bazaar-like gathering of food stalls, antique dealers, and everything in between. It’s worth a look-see, but it’s also pretty much out of the way. Those who find themselves in the city’s more accessible Ratchada area — especially the Ratchadaphisek Road, near the National Cultural Center MRT Station — can visit the more compact (but just as appealing) version of the Train Market. This is the Rot Fai Market Ratchada.
TAT Philippines gave us 500 Baht each to explore what the Train Market has to offer, and it turned out this was a lot!
Ratchada Train Market
Unlike its sister market, Rot Fai Market Ratchada is much more compact and is ideal for those looking to drop by for a bit after work (Thursdays and Fridays) or during weekends. Since the market opens from 6PM until midnight, you will be greeted with an assortment of incandescent and LED bulbs shedding light on the myriad of merchandise along the market’s various avenues. The central areas are filled with various curiosities, from antiques and household decor to hand-me-down toys. The outer lanes had stalls selling all kinds of clothes, from dresses and shirts to handbags and shoes!
These stalls are a great demonstration of why Bangkok is a shopping haven. The prices are really cheap! We got a few pairs of cute earrings for only 20 Baht each. At other bazaars there would have been a significant markup, but not here. Also, this being a bazaar (and a Bangkok one at that) there really isn’t a fixed price on anything. Ultimately how much you take home would depend on your haggling skills!
The stars of the night
Walking along the outer lanes also led us through some snack stalls selling mouthwatering treats. But the real magic happens along the back, when the fairy lights hit you and the music gets louder. You’ll also know when you smell it — smoking hot Thai dishes straight from the grill or pan!
For tourists, the foodie section of the Ratchada Train Market is the undisputed star of the night. We spent a good deal of time here, and spent most of our budget trying a lot of Thai specialties:
Spicy cockle salad. Locally called Yum Hoi Krang (with “yum”, I believe, being the operative word), this is an herby and delightfully spicy dish. It’s very juicy, too, so you know you’re getting fresh cockle for your meal. Super good, and a must-try!
Thai Milk Tea. How could anyone go to Thailand without partaking of this creamy, orange-colored concoction? There may be instant versions back home, but there’s nothing like the original. Erica and I shared a giant glass fo the drink for only 70 Baht!
Pork skewers and beef skewers. At only 10 Baht each, this is the local equivalent of our beloved barbecue sticks. Distinctly Thai flavors, and with a subtle spicy taste that seems to be everywhere here. Also great if you’re looking for a meal you can carry around while browsing other parts of the market.
Pancakes with condensed milk. We took a detour from the savory to the sweet with these classic bazaar treats! These are great for dessert or just on their own. If you’ve got kids, they’ll love the pancakes cut into cartoon shapes, too!
Giant “Bulalo”. Filipino foodies might find it interesting that the “bulalo” has its own incarnations in Thailand and Vietnam (and maybe in other parts of the world where bone marrow is regularly eaten). We sampled the local version, which came in gigantic servings! It’s a perfect meal both in taste and in value.
Seafood with spicy sauce. Also called Goong Tung, this grilled assortment of Thai seafood is mixed with a good dose of spicy sauce. You’re given plastic gloves with which to eat — the better so savor the flavors! There’s squid, prawn, and other fresh catch at prices much lower than you’ll find in Bangkok restaurants.
Noodles. Have you ever tried bitter melon (“ampalaya”) in your soup? We have, and it tasted much better than we’d expected! Kuay Teow Gai Mara is a type of noodle soup with chicken meat and meatballs. The garnish consists of thinly-sliced bitter melons, which actually tasted great with the rest of the ingredients.
Bacon with asparagus. It’s a tad surprising to see this Western buffet classic in the Train Market, but it was a great addition anyway.
Of course, there are lots of other things to see here including the classic edible insects (if you have the stomach), mango over sticky rice, and much more! So if you ever find yourself in Bangkok with nothing to do, do yourself a favor and head over to the Train Market in the evening.
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