Talat Rot Fai at Ratchada is probably the easiest of the major night markets to visit (with the exception of Patpong). It’s vast, cheap and highly entertaining Bangkok night market, but crowded! Is so easy to reach on the MRT (Metro) at the Thailand Cultural Centre station, just 3 stops from Sukhumvit and you are there! As you exit the train look for the convenient signs that lead you to street level close to the market entrance. As you exit the MRT, turn left and in a minute you will see the Esplanade Shopping Centre on your left. You can either take the driveway to the left and around the building or just go straight through the Esplanade Shopping Centre which will take you directly to the entrance to Talat Rot Fai Ratchada. The market is open Thursday to Sunday from 18:00 to 24:00. It’s a good idea to arrive early and avoid the rush hour as Sukhumvit MRT is very crowded from 17:30-19:30. Lines for tickets are long during rush hour and you may have to wait for 3 trains before you are able to squeeze on! To save time on your return journey, check the ticket office and buy your tickets then, as there are again lines later in the evening as the groups depart the market.
As you exit the air-conditioned comfort of the shopping mall the night market will open before you. It is a boisterous mix of colour, enticing smells and music! Take a deep breath and dive in! As you enter you have two main choices, if you proceed directly ahead you will go around to the mainly bar area, my recommendation is turn right and dive straight into the vast choice of food (life is too short, start with food!) that is available at Rot Foi. As always, these markets change and since my last visit I have noticed that some of the ‘restaurant style’ stands have expanded and it appears that many are now concentrating on somewhat extravagant Fish Platters which seem to appeal to our Chinese visitors. Fish Platters are generally offered in 3 sizes, good sized, large and copious. They include grilled fish and a vast variety of seafood. Prevalent amongst the food on offer is of course seafood, however meat lovers don’t despair there is also plenty for you, there are also a variety of deserts and many delicious smoothies especially the ones being served in baby water melon shells.
Rot Foi has maintained a large number of smaller, independent vendors with single stands offering a vast choice to snack on as you explore. You can wander from stand to stand buying small amounts to slate your hunger. Whilst there are some interesting dishes on offer, some of the more traditional and exotic appear to have disappeared with priority being given to the palates and appetites of our Eastern neighbours! It’s narrow, crowded and your senses will be availed with so many smells, most of them good, coming from the delicacies being prepared right in front of you! Having fought through the crowds and smells of the many food stands it is time to start exploring the rest of this vibrant market. My recommendation is to make a circuit as you will then see most of what is on offer here. At the perimeter you will also find many established restaurants and bars. Great ingenuity has gone into the construction, some being housed in modified containers and others seemingly built from any materials that could be found. It is a cacophony of sound as different sound systems and even bands, assail your senses.
Having eaten well and shopped until you cannot continue make your way to the rear to the market where you will find the bars. Each has it’s own style and character and many offer a second floor to catch the evening breeze. It’s a great place to relax and watch the world pass by below you as you sip on an ice-cold Thai beer! Enjoy the great experience of one of Bangkok’s real night markets!
I suppose I should also mention shopping as there are a vast number of colourful tents wanting to part you with your money. The choice is boundless from trinkets to clothing, shoes to phone covers and everything in between. The ladies can have a Manicure, there is a tattoos artist and even barber shops.