Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Rot Fai (Train) Night Markets I and II in Bangkok

Flea market collectibles make two evening "train markets" unlike any other Bangkok night bazaars. How to reach them, what you can buy.

Rot Fai II Night Market near Ratchada & Thai Cultural Centre

This will sound confusing at first but ... you will probably decide the Rot Fai II Night Bazaar is the most convenient night market to visit. It's right at the Thai Cultural Centre MRT (subway) stop-- much closer to it than the Cultural Centre--so that's the location link at the bottom of this post.

The Rot Fai (Train) Market II is on Ratchada, or Ratchadapisek, Road, so it could logically be called the Ratchada Night Bazaar. It's not near the original (now defunct) Rot Fai Night Market, which was near Chatuchak Market. Nor is it near the new Rot Fai Market (more below) way out east of the city, on the way to the airport, near the Seacon Square shopping center. (BTW, neither of these train markets should be confused with the Youtube famous Maeklong market that a train drives through!)

But the old (now defunct) Ratchada Night Market was between two other MRT (subway) stops farther north, so that would be even more confusing, right? Besides, another major feature of the old Ratchada night market was machinery, vehicles, and motors and parts thereof. You won't find find much of that at the Rod Fai II.

Rot Fai II has more of a flea market vibe--just like the Rot Fai Market I, yet with lots more food and clothing than the original Rot Fai Market had. By flea market, I mean new and vintage furniture, tableware, lamps, fans and other household products. If you want to furnish a house or apartment on the cheap, this is a good place to start. Some of these articles might even be genuine antiques. You have to wonder whether some of this stuff was ever owned by Thais: items like old vinyl records and record players, signs, posters, typewriters, cameras.

Unlike the Sukhumvit street stalls or Kao San Road or the impromptu night market at Ratchaprasong, the new and secondhand clothing here isn't aimed at foreign customers. The new stuff tends to be cheesy but cheap. Some of the secondhand clothing is real cotton or of other good quality. On the other hand, there is plenty of street food and things to drink (including beer), so it's fun to wander around in the evening cool. On weekends, though, it gets really packed so Thursday night is the best time to visit.

Locations and Directions of Rot Fai II Night Market

The Esplanade shopping mall is right next to Thai Cultural Centre MRT station. I think it's Exit 4 but it will be on the station's map after you exit the turnstiles. The well marked Talaat Rot Fai II ("Train Night Market II) is behind the mall. The Cultural Centre is a good ten-minute walk from the station. 

Rot Fai II Night Market Hours: Thursday through Sunday, 5 pm to 1 am
Location: Behind Esplanade mall, MRT Thai Cultural Centre
Phone: 081-897-4184

Nearest hotels: Bangkok Cha-Da, Emerald, Swissotel Le Concorde, Ban Kaew Mansion

Rot Fai Night Market I - Train Flea Market Returns

The old Train Market was near Chatuchak Weekend Market, so it was easy to drop by in the evening. The area had served as a storage and maintenance center for the railroad--thus the name (rot fai or rod fai being "train" or "trains"). The new location east of Bangkok is nowhere near a railroad station and quite far from the nearest BTS stations. The new market does have in common that many of the vendors at the old market--who stored there wares in the old Train Market's buildings--have moved lock, stock and barrels of ancient bric-a-brac to the new locale.

Run by the same couple, Talaat Rod Fair I, or Train Market I, is a bigger version of the aforementioned Train Market II: furniture, dishes, housewares, LP records (Thai, English and Chinese--some of quite old), radios, stereos, posters, toys and cameras. You won't find much super-old collectible furniture, like teak tables and the like. A lot of it seems to date from the 1970s or so. There might even be a few old cars and motorbikes for sale. 

The new Train Market has a few redeeming features that the old one didn't. The old one did have a few eating and drinking beer places. The new one has more. I've also been told that there are a few shops selling new clothes, some by the kind of young designers that used to have shops in the defunct Suan Lum market at Lumpini Park.

Location of Rod Fai I - Bangkok Train Market I

Srinakarin Road, also spelled Srinagarindra Road (as on Google maps) and Sri Nakarin, is a big highway type road, bounding the Seacon Square mall to the west. Soi 51 is one of the branches of Srinakarin Road: it shoots off to the east, along the southern boundary of the mall. It's the black blob on this map.

If you are already in the mall and want to visit the night market in the evening, asking for the talaat rot fai should get you there easily enough. Heading out on your own by taxi ... I would get the driver to being me to Seacon Square first. All the Skytrain and subway stations are distant, but you can catch a taxi from those mentioned below. If you speak a bit of Thai, there are buses and songtao running out to Seacon from Udom Suk Skytrain station.

Address: 55 Srinakarin (Sri Nakarin) Road, Seacon Square, Prawet
Hours: Thursday - Sunday, 5 pm to midnight.
Phone (in Thai): 081-827-5885
Nearest BTS station: Onnut or Udom Suk Skytrain or Hua Mark MRT (subway) 
Nearest hotels:  Dusit Princess Srinakarin

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