Phaholyothin Road, Chatuchak
North Bangkok, Thailand
Across the street from the much larger Chatuchak, a 3,000 stall mega flea market in a Bangkok suburb, Aw Taw Kaw is the more exclusive place to shop for fresh and prepared foods, organic produce, and regional Thai delicacies. In 1971, the Thailand Ministry of Agriculture set up the Aw Taw Kaw Market also known as Talad Aw Taw Kaw (talad is the Thai word for market). The market underwent a total renovation in recent years and is known today as a destination for Thailand’s top chefs, celebrities, foodies, and hungry tourists.
Chowhounds delight in Aw Taw Kaw’s sumptuous display of organic produce, fresh seafood, and the sheer variety of Thai specialty items. (You can find 50 different types of shrimp paste in one store.) The market is so full of gastronomic treats; it’s difficult to know where to start. A glass of tamarind juice from one of the stalls in the back might be a good place. Diners must then choose between items such as fermented sour sausage from Northern Thailand or freshly steamed fish with garlic and chili. Or, perhaps they prefer a plate of raw crab, giant curried prawns, or a bowl of Isaan mushroom soup with sticky rice. Racks of ribs, whole chickens, duck and meats on skewers are available as are rice noodle dishes and doughy homemade dumplings. Raw or cooked, the food is exceptional and often exotic. Shoppers will find poello from the Nakonpratom province and that mysterious fruit durian grown in Rayong. For dessert, there’s vats of coconut ice cream, water chestnuts coated in red tapioca starch, or candied pumpkin seeds. As visitors happily dine or shop, they are often treated to musical accompaniment.
Aw Taw Kaw, expensive and considered somewhat elite with higher prices than other markets, is not ideal for those on a budget. With wide aisles, it’s easy to navigate and is known for exceptional cleanliness. At the back of the stalls, a food court offers typical Thai fare for a more economical meal or snack. Most items come in plastic bags to be eaten picnic style, so diners might want to bring utensils. For a seated meal, many cafés offer full service instead. Either way, a visit to Aw Taw Kaw always ends up as a feast. A convenience store on the market’s perimeter has pay toilets.
Location: Dusit and North Bangkok. (Aw Taw Kaw Market sits diagonally across from the southwest corner of the Chatuchak Weekend Market.) Subway stop: Kamphaeng Phet. Take the MRT subway to the Kamphaeng Phet station. Use exit #3 and look for a sign that reads, “Marketing Organization for Farmers.” (Do not confuse this market with Aw Taw Kaw market on Sukhumvit, a much smaller and less impressive location.) For drivers, there is a large parking lot with plenty of spaces.
- Address: Chatuchak, จังหวัด กรุงเทพมหานคร Thailand
- Country: Thailand
- Website: chatuchak.org
- Hours: Saturday and Sunday 9 am – 6 pm and Friday 6 pm – midnight
- Vendors: 8000
- Surface Area: 35 acres
- More information: typical weekend sees 200,000+ visitors