In the Bangkok night market stakes, Klong San almost certainly gets fewer visits from tourists who are more likely to have heard of the likes of the Talat Rot Fai train markets or the centrally located Siam Square, Silom and Sukhumvit Road markets. But Klong San (also spelled Khlong San) night market, over on the lower-key Thonburi side of the Thai capital’s Chaophraya River, is a particular favourite of ours – that’s why it’s one of the first stops on our signature Bangkok Night Lights tuk tuk tour.
Klong San night market sits right on the banks of the river – in fact, it even has its own cross-river ferry pier that goes by the same name. Part of the reason for this lies in the market’s history: it sits on a site that was previously home to a railway station used to transport goods arriving into the Thai capital by boat up the river.
Today, you can still catch an inexpensive local ferry across from Si Phraya on the Chaophraya’s opposite bank (beside the Royal Orchid Sheraton hotel and River City shopping centre), where the Chaophraya Express Boat service calls (though note that the express boats and cross-river ferries depart from different piers).
The market itself operates right through the day from morning until late, but it’s at its buzziest of an evening. Its two alleyways of stalls sport a mix of trendy and inexpensive fashion targeted firmly at the young local demographic – think real and copied designer goods from well-known brands as well as local talent, together with plenty of cheap accessories like ever-popular coloured fashion contact lenses – and a good selection of local street food and snacks to keep you sustained while you shop. We keep things interesting for those visiting Klong San night market on one of our tours by rotating the foods we try, but you can expect everything from grilled and fried meat and fish skewers to Thai-style hot dogs, fish cakes and delicious ‘curry puff’ pastries.
On the outer edges of the market and facing the river are a number of bars and restaurants – these have pleasant views of the ferries and nightime cruise boats passing up and down the water, and are a pleasant spot to break up your evening if you’re visiting independently. They’re a popular spot for local students and professionals and, as well as a solid range of cold beers to nurse down, you won’t go hungry: you can feast here on solid Thai drinking snacks as well as more substantial meals, with the reassurance that you’ll be chowing on truly local fare. If you fancy something a tad more stylish, the Millennium Hilton hotel and its international bars and restaurants are right next door.
It goes without saying that, apart from perhaps bumping into one of our tour groups (say hello if you spot us!), you can expect a very local vibe at Klong San night market – and we think that’s a great thing, and a big part of the attraction here. English is spoken, though it’s also a great place to try out your Thai if you’ve been practising, and the other upside of the predominantly local setting is that you’ll enjoy lower prices than more touristy markets, along with drastically reduced chances of being ripped off.
Daily, 7am-9pm; Charoen Nakhon Road (Klong San cross-river ferry pier; catch the ferry from Si Phraya river boat pier)
Have you been to Klong San night market? Let us know in the comments!