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Bangkok is a paradise for those who love markets; you can spend days browsing the stalls, inhaling the oriental fragrances and admiring the colourful wares. If all this browsing makes you hungry, stop by one of the many food stalls that prepare fresh fruit, fish or meat. The markets sell a great variety of wares: plan ahead to choose which markets you would like to visit.
Some of the markets in Bangkok specialise in certain products. For example, the streets around the palace on the east side of the Chao Praya River are home to the amulet market. The rugs on the pavement are packed with religious pendants made from wood, bronze or clay - some even include a hair from a famous monk or sand from a holy temple. Buddhists believe that these amulets will grant protection against traffic accidents and evil. Most taxi drivers will display one of these amulets in their vehicle.
One would assume that markets are cheaper than major shopping centres, but in Bangkok this is not always the case. Some markets, including those in Patpong, can still be quite pricey. To find the real bargains, locals and tourists flock to the Chatuchak Weekend Market. This enormous market with more than 15,000 stalls sells everything under the sun: from dresses to rabbits to trendy furniture made from recycled wood. The market is open every weekend from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm.
Bangkok offers many more large markets that guarantee an affordable shopping expedition. Saphan Lek, west of Chinatown, is a shopping paradise for both boys and men. Here you will find remote controlled cars and cheap software and DVDs. In the city there are also hundreds of smaller markets with a variety of opening hours. On Wednesdays there is a student market at Chulalongkorn Soi 42. Locals love the Banglamphu market at Jakkapong Road for its inexpensive clothing and sneakers.
The floating markets are also very interesting. Vendors load their wares onto small boats and vie for a spot along the shore to sell their products. In the past, floating markets played an important role in the daily life of the Thai people. Over time, the Bangkok canals have been replaced by roads, but outside the capital floating markets are still an important feature. The Tha Kha market lies just outside of the city and can be hard to find. This calm but lively market doesn’t sell any commercial souvenirs and gives a good impression of what the floating markets in Bangkok would have been like.