Chatuchak Weekend Market

Chatuchak weekend market in Bangkok is the largest market in Thailand and the world's largest weekend market. Frequently called J.J., it covers over 35 acres (0.14 km²) and contains upwards of 15,000 stalls. It is estimated that the market receives 200,000 visitors each day.Most stalls only open on Saturdays and Sundays though Jatujak Plaza, the western section is open daily. In the north west corner is the J.J. Mall, with three floors of assorted oddments as well as eateries.

Chatuchak Weekend Market
Chatuchak Weekend Market

The market offers a wide variety of products including household items, clothing, Thai handicrafts, religious artifacts, collectibles, foods, and live animals. For tourists, there are a number of onsite companies who will send purchases abroad. Tourists also find Chatuchak a prominent place to find skilled Thai iced tea makers practicing their trade.

Chatuchak Market owes its origin to Field Marshal Plaek Phibunsongkhram, the late prime minister of Thailand (1938–1944, 1948–1957), who came up with the idea of setting up a flea market in every town. As a result, the first flea market in Bangkok was held at Sanam Luang and was called Sanam Luang flea Market. However, there was time when the place was needed for other special functions and the flea market was then relocated to Saranrom Palace and settled there for 8 years. After that, it was moved again to Sanam Chai. But because of the limited space, it had to be moved back to Sanam Luang. In the same year, the government issued a policy to turn Sanam Luang into a public park for citizens of Bangkok and to be the venue to celebrate 200-year-anniversary of Bangkok, which would be held in 1982. Thus, it was decided that the flea market would be held at the Phahonyothin area from then on and it is later called Chatuchak Market after the nearby park under the same name. Until about 1995 the walkways were open to the sky and also to the rain. They then covered the walkways which stopped the rain in the rainy season, but also made the walkways hotter than before.

In recent years the market has gained considerable notice among conservationists and the World Wildlife Fund; Chatuchak has become a notorious hub for trafficking illegal and endangered species, notably in the north west corner of the market which is all but isolated from the rest of the market. This activity was covered on CNN's "Planet in Peril" series. Despite publicity, Thai law is rarely able to pursue a course of action in preventing the illegal trade as it would just go underground elsewhere.