Alongside temple hopping, whizzing around town in the back of a tuk-tuk and indulging in platefuls of tasty Thai street food, one of the top activities in Bangkok you’ll probably want to cross off your list of ‘must dos’ is visiting a market. And one of the best in our humble opinion is the Rod Fai Market at Srinakarin – aka the train market
Since its opening only a few years back, this lively night market has become a firm favourite with young and trendy locals looking to grab a bargain on a huge range of vintage fashion, antiques and collectibles.
But the thing that really sets Rod Fai Market apart from the rest of Bangkok’s alternatives is the fact that you could spend a whole evening here without doing a single bit of shopping – and still have a great time. As well as the gauntlet of stalls, Rod Fai boasts dozens of lively bars – all of which serve cheap beer, finger food and provide live music most nights. Great, as long as you don’t mind a bit of Thai pop.
A brief history of Bangkok’s ‘train market’
The Rod Fai Market at Srinakarin may only be a few years old, but this is actually the reincarnation of the hugely popular (but smaller) one of the same name that used to be located next to the railway tracks at Chatuchak in Bangkok’s north. This is how the market got its name; rod fai in Thai means ‘train’, hence the fact that many people in Bangkok simply refer to it as the ‘train market’.
Back in 2013, the market lost its old spot by the tracks at Chatuchak and was forced to up sticks to this new location at Srinakarin. It’s a little more difficult to get to, but owners have kept many of the same vendors and shops, which has helped maintain the market’s unique non-commercial, non-touristy feel.
Rod Fai Market: A guide to shopping, eating, drinking and more!
Even if you visit this place a dozen times, you’ll probably still discover cool antique shops, hip boutique stalls and charming bars that you never knew existed before. With three different zones (Market Zone, Warehouse Zone and Rod’s Antiques), the place is simply too big for just one visit. Here are all the best things to do at the Rod Fai Market…
The standout area to shop at Rod Fai Srinakarin has to be the Warehouse Zone, which, you guessed it, can be found in the old warehouses that sit around the perimeter of the site. Walk inside one of these and it almost feels like you’ve entered a retro museum, with everything from classic cars, vintage household items, cameras, refurbished shoes, leather jackets, furniture, lighting, second-hand dresses, old designer bags and much more. Prices are fair, and the great thing is that the store owners are much more friendly than they are pushy, unlike some of Bangkok’s other touristy night markets. Do note, however, that some of the prices you’ll be quoted can seem quite high; this is because most of the designer stuff here is genuine and pretty rare to find in Bangkok. That said, bargaining is encouraged!
Carrying on the old-school theme is Rod’s Antique Zone, located in a converted factory building towards the back of the market. The selection of antiques here is incredible, with most of the shops stocking household items such as furniture, paintings, glassware, light fixtures, memorabilia and even motorbikes.
Those on a tighter budget might want to check out Rod Fai’s colorful outdoor Market Zone. Anyone who has visited Bangkok’s famous Chatuchak (‘JJ’) Weekend Market or strolled along Sukhumvit at night will be familiar with the items on sale here. Think cheap Ray Bans, kid’s toys, shoes, CDs, t-shirts, bags – that kind of everyday stuff.
Eating and drinking…
Hate shopping? Then don’t let that stop you visiting this market, as there is so much more to discover here in the way of food, drinks and entertainment.
As soon as you enter, you’ll pass through the main food section. Let’s put it this way: whatever food you’re in the mood for, you’ll probably be able to find it here. We’re talking all the basics like pad Thai and fried rice as well as spicy soups, grilled meat, salads, steak, fresh seafood, ice cream… the list goes on. You can choose to snack your way through on foot, or just find a table and have a proper meal before tackling the rest of the market.
After all that eating and shopping, chances are you’ve worked up quite a thirst (and maybe some sweat). Thankfully, Rod Fai Market at Srinakarin is full of different watering holes, from makeshift bars out of the back of a truck or camper van, to Thai-style pubs offering indoor seating (that means air-con) and live music. Best thing here is that the drinks are really cheap, with bottles of beer and cocktails around 80-150 baht each and a bottle of whiskey/mixers at around 400-500 baht.
Opening times: The Rod Fai Market at Srinakarin is open from Thursday-Sunday, although on Thursdays you will find that not all of the shops are open. Most of the stalls begin to set up in the late afternoon as the sun is going down and pack up shop around midnight, although many of the bars and restaurants here will stay open until 01:00.
Location and how to get there: Rod Fai Market’s location is a little difficult to get to as it has no nearby links to the BTS Skytrain or MRT – but don’t let that put you off. The easiest way to get there is to get the BTS to On Nut Station and get a taxi from there, which should take around 10-20 minutes depending on traffic. You can tell your taxi driver ‘talad rod fai’, and if that doesn’t work, ask to go to ‘Seacon Square’ (the market is located just behind this large shopping mall). The exact location is Srinakarin Road 51.
The ‘second’ Rod Fai Market at Rachada
Thanks to the huge success of Rod Fai Market, the brand has opened a second smaller venue in Bangkok at Ratchada. While the Srinakarin spot gets our vote every time (the range of antiques and cool bars is unbeatable), this alternative market is a lot easier to reach from downtown Bangkok. Located behind Esplanade Mall, visitors can simply take the MRT to Thailand Cultural Centre Station and walk from there. The Rod Fai Market at Rachada has the same opening times as its older and bigger brother (Thurs – Sun, 17:00 – 01:00).
All images via facebook.com/taradrodfi.Ratchada