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Is it vintage, antique or just plain junk? Find it all at Bangkok's 3 top retro markets
Forget the Weekend Market. Bangkok's lovers of the old, torn and pre-worn prefer these superbly aged vintage excavation grounds
Bangkok's retro lovers don't head for the city's shiny malls. They put in hard time digging through hot Bangkok markets in search of that awesome piece of vintage furniture or the perfect retro outfit.
And when we say dig, we mean it. These three Bangkok markets are tops when it comes to cool old stuff -- or new stuff that was designed to look old. (Hey, some people have issues with used stuff.) But they all have their fair share of junk masquerading as antiques, too.
Talad Naew Naew, Wang Lang
Mostly frequented by commuting university students and old hippies, Wang Lang isn't a guidebook-worthy shopping destination like the Jatujak Weekend Market. The mess, the winding lanes and the heat radiating from the food vendors’ fiery grills make this a rather unpleasant place to hunt for fashion.
But at the center of this chaos lies “Talad Naew Naew”, which translates into “the market of alternatively cool people”. From darkened Chuck Taylors to a fourth-hand authentic Chanel purse that's missing a buckle, this Bangkok market is well known for its sweet surprises -- if you don't mind musty smelling shoes or micro-holes on your shirts.
Nestled among the oldies are vendors selling fake vintage t-shirts and accessories for those who can't bear to wear pre-loved treasures.
How to get there: Take the BTS to Saphan Taksin and hop on the Chao Praya Express boat to the “Wang Lang/Siriraj” pier. Talad Naew Naew is located in the middle of Wang Lang. It is open everyday but the best time to go is around lunch hour, when all the vendors are open.
Ratchada Night Bazaar
This dirt-filled wasteland used to be between the city's Ratchada and Ladprao MRT stations, but has now moved down the road to the other side of the Ladprao MRT station due to construction. It was once just a tiny Bangkok market used as a trading hub for vintage car owners in search of spare parts to revive their old engines.
Somewhere along the way the trading of prized Vespas, VW vans and 1950s corvettes got overshadowed by tin toys, vintage cameras, vinyls, gramophones, framed newspaper clippings of Thai political uprisings, first editions famous Thai books and second-hand clothes and shoes.
Fashionistas especially love Ratchada, which has everything from mod dresses and thick-framed glasses to boots and baby-doll pumps. The old cars and motorbikes are still there too, making it a bizarrely great place for couples to explore together.
How to get there: The Ratchada Bangkok market can be reached by MRT, and is right next to the Ladprao station. It's open on Saturday nights, starting at 6-7pm, but most vendors don't come out til 8pm or later and stay till well after midnight.
Lopburi Zone, Suan Lum Night Bazaar
Suan Lum Night Bazaar used to be cool. Then it was overpopulated with cheesy home decor, fake Thai antiques and tacky tourist T-shirts.
There is one area that's the exception: Lopburi Zone, which is filled with the creations of a group of young Thai designers. Think of it as Siam Square's edgier little sister.
Lopburi Zone's vendors offer an alternative collection of clothing and home decor to the rest of Suan Lum's mass-produced wares. From bell-bottomed pants and high-waisted skirts to Ovalia Egg-inspired furnishings and flower-power music and accessories, they give urbanites something the big malls can't compete with.
Very little of the stuff here is pre-worn. Perfect for those wanting the vintage look without having to deal with the age.
Get there while you can as plans are afoot to tear it down and build condos and retail on its prime and massive piece of land. This hasn’t happened yet, but Suan Lum is definitely living on borrowed time.
How to get there: Take the MRT to Suan Lum station. The escalator from the stations ends up right where you need to be in this giant Bangkok market. Open nightly at 5pm but at its busiest around 8pm. Go on weekdays to avoid the crowds.