LivingTravelAsian Night Market in Bangkok

Asian Night Market in Bangkok

It’s a casual street market, it’s a middle-class shopping mall, it’s a unique riverside dining experience with entertainment. That sums up what Asiatique, Bangkok’s newest shopping area just south of Chinatown, is trying to be. If it sounds too ambitious, it is, but don’t let that stop you from spending an afternoon or evening there.

Whether you are looking for souvenirs to take with your friends and family, a good place to dine and see a show, or a destination to wander outside with a view of the city and the river, Asiatique is truly a great place to go. It is also accessible by public transport (river ferry), ideal for families and will take you to a part of the city that is not always seen by strangers. And since it attracts visitors and locals alike, you won’t feel like you’re in a segregated tourist trap.

What to expect from the Asian market

Located on Charoen Krung Road, Bangkok’s oldest street, built around a restored quay built in the 1900s, Asiatique is supposed to conjure up powerful images of Thailand’s cultural history. Most of the shopping is done in large open buildings designed to replicate massive warehouses that you will still find in parts of Bangkok. There are fake railroad cars and even statues of pedicab drivers and dock workers lifting bags of rice. As critics will point out, the developers at Asiatique took their idea too far, resulting in an overproduced ‘experience’ that feels more like visiting a theme park with too much shopping than looking longingly at a fascinating and enchanting past.

That’s all true, but in a way it doesn’t matter as the theme is just a showcase for what Asiatique has to offer.

What it has to offer is this: it is simply a riverside open air mall with fun shops, a great selection of places to eat and very cool Thai entertainment. There are perfectly organized market stalls in one section, high-end shops in another, a casual food court, and many independent restaurants. Many of the shopping stalls you’ll find in Asiatique are direct transplants from the old Suan Lum night market across the street from Lumphini Park. That means fun, cheap shoes and clothes, tourist home goods, T-shirts and other souvenirs (many, many elephants), but also some high-end clothing made by budding local designers, expensive metal items, and cute random objects.

There are stalls selling locally made spa products and even small spas where you can stop and get a massage or facial.

Food, drink and vivacity

As for food, if you want to spend 100 baht for dinner or 1,000 baht you will find something. Like the old night market, the main eating area is an open food court with dozens of vendors offering mostly Thai food. If you’re looking for something less casual, there are also air-conditioned restaurants (mostly local mid-level chains like Pizza Company and some Thai-Japanese restaurants) and, right on the boardwalk, a brewery and seafood restaurant. . But, you don’t need to spend a lot to enjoy the beautiful view of Chao Phraya and Bangkok’s skyscrapers to the north as there is nothing to stop you from strolling along the river.

In terms of entertainment, Asiatique has two of the funniest cultural shows in Thailand. The first, the Joe Louis Puppet Theater, which lost its home when the old night market closed, shows the art of Thai puppetry with hoon lakorn lek puppeteers. These artists perform stories from Thai mythology with their puppets and, unlike the puppet shows where the puppeteers are hidden, they are part of the performance here. The show is charming and a lot of fun for both children and their parents.

Asiatique also hosts the Calypso Cabaret, one of Bangkok’s long-running transvestite variety shows. If you were hoping to see Thailand’s famous ladyboys dressed in drag, dance, and lip syncing to classic tunes and Asian hits, you’re in luck. The nightly shows are a lot of fun, and while a bit pricey at over 1,000 baht per ticket, it’s definitely a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

In general, it is hard to go wrong in Asiatique. Sure, you’re not going to win any awards for authenticity, but if you’re looking for a fun and interesting place to spend an evening, you’ll find plenty to eat, shop, and see there.

How to get there

To get to Asiatique, take a taxi to Charoen Krun Soi 72, or take the Skytrain to Saphan Taksin and then hop on one of Asiatique’s free river ferries, which leave from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. There are a few shops and restaurants open during the day, but this is primarily a night destination.

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