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Even if the enormous decommissioned aeroplane at its centre has already given Chang Chui the informal English-language moniker of ‘the plane night market’ (what with the various branches of Talat Rot Fai ‘train night market’, Bangkok’s night market scene seems to have something about modes of transport!), officially it’s referred to as a ‘creative park’ or ‘creative hub’.
And in fairness that’s probably more of an accurate description, since what’s on offer here is a far more extensive array of activities than the selection normally associated with conventional Thai night markets in Bangkok or elsewhere around the country.
That creative identity is also reflected in the name. The term Chang Chui roughly translates as ‘slovenly artisan’; the Thai word ‘chang’ is used to refer to everyone from a handyman/woman to a hairdresser to a specialist craftsperson, and it’s different to the alternatively toned word ‘chang’ you might have heard meaning ‘elephant’ (which is also used as the name of the famous beer brand).
Amusingly, though, pop the original Thai script for ‘Chang Chui’ into Google Translate and it just throws back ‘snob’. That’s not entirely off the mark: Chang Chui as a venue is a much higher-end, finely polished interpretation and reincarnation of Bangkok’s conventional markets. Don’t come here expecting something rough and ready like Talat Rot Fai was way back in the days when it first kicked off over in Saphan Khwai.
In fact, there’s some truth in suggesting that it’s easier to describe what Chang Chui isn’t than what it actually is. The enormous site that makes up Chang Chui Creative Park is in fact comprised of various segments that operate independently of one another. These different sections of the operation open in a staggered fashion throughout the day – which matches the nature of what they offer and the time at which you’re likely to want it – before they ultimately become part of the one bigger venue of Chang Chui as a whole.
With the arty focus that dominates Chang Chui Creative Park, you can expect activities in the shopping genre and beyond that include boutiques selling everything from bookings and stationery to plants and clothes. There’s also an art gallery, a cinema, and a theatre for live cultural performances. Of course, this wouldn’t be even a modern, well-heeled interpretation of a Bangkok night market if there weren’t ample places to eat and drink ourselves silly – that’s just about as integral to Thai culture as anything else! You can be sure of everything from coffee shops, restaurants – including a fine dining venue situated right inside the famous aeroplane, plus a modern food court and another restaurant dedicated to introducing diners to dishes featuring edible insects – and a handful of bars. One of the bars most widely billed in the lead-up to the opening of Chang Chui was Runway, set on the tarmac right under the wings of that iconic plane.
In fact, Chang Chui is so focussed on providing a full array of activities and amenities that there’s even a barber’s on site! And it goes without saying that, with the primary crowd targeted by Chang Chui being the moneyed Thai set, the whole place is not just a design-lover’s heaven but also one big Insta-worthy photo-shooting spot. You’ll certainly struggle to go home without at least having been tempted by a few like-generating snaps.
Unlike some Bangkok night markets that are more centrally located, Chang Chui Creative Park is set all the way over on Sirindhorn Road in the far reaches of Bangkok’s former-capital Thonburi district on the other side of the Chaophraya river. In fact, it’s only just on the Bangkok side of the border with neighbouring Nonthaburi province.
Yet despite being further out than many other Bangkok attractions and night markets, Chang Chui is just a 10-minute walk (or two-minute motorbike taxi ride) from Bang Bamru railway station. This station will be on the SRT’s light-red suburban line when it eventually opens, with connections to the BTS, MRT, and Airport Rail Link.
Right now, though, Bang Bamru is only served by mainline trains on the southern route. For an atmospheric (but slow) journey, take one of the 14 daily trains from Bangkok’s main Hualamphong station to Bang Bamru – the ride takes between 35 and 49 minutes, and costs as little as four baht. Alternatively, take bus number 515 or 539 from Victory Monument to Bang Kruai, and walk or take a motorbike taxi from there, or simply take a taxi.
At Expique, we’re Bangkok night market experts, so be sure to let us know if you would like to visit Chang Chui Creative Park or any other night markets in Bangkok on a custom tour!
Chang Chui Creative Park is Thursday to Tuesday from 11am to 11pm. However, take note that Chang Chui is divided into the booze-free ‘green zone’, which is open from 11am to 9pm, and the ‘night zone’, which operates from 4pm to 11pm. If you just want one or the other then by all means pick the time you want to visit accordingly, but if you want to see a bit of everything it means the best time to visit Chang Chui Creative Park is between 4pm and 9pm.
Sirindhorn Road, Bang Phlat; 081-817-2888; www.changchuibangkok.com
At Expique, we’re experts at showing you the unique parts of Bangkok that most tours don’t take you to – and which you probably won’t discover on your own. Joining one of our tours or experiences (or having us create a custom tour for you) is a great way to make the most of your time in bangkok and ensure you leave with a memorable experience.
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Have you been to Chang Chui Creative Park? What were your favourite things about Chang Chui, and what sets it apart from other Bangkok night markets? Which is your favourite night market in Bangkok overall? Let us know and share your experiences of Chang Chui Creative Park in the comments!
All photos by Chang Chui Creative Park.