Talad Rot Fai (The Train Market)
Bangkok’s very unique vintage market and hangout
If there’s one thing Thailand has in excess, it’s places to sell new junk. I’ve never seen so many phone covers in all my life – and this is just for the newest models!! What did they do with all the old models? From accessories, to knick knacks, to souvenirs I couldn’t imagine ANYONE buying, there is market after market, mall after mall, city after city just filled to the rim of this stuff. It’s hard to tell one market from the other, quite frankly. Not all of it’s junk – I mean, there’s some neat things too.. but really, I can’t imagine how even 10% of it gets sold. There is, however, one market which does things a little differently. Ironically located very close to Chatuchak (one of the world’s largest outdoor markets – selling mostly generic things), this funky vintage market has become a popular teen hangout due to it’s wide variety of vintage items, rarely seen in today’s rapidly changing consumerist marketplace.
Immediately upon walking in the front entrance, I had a sense of nostalgia come over me. Some of the old buildings with crumbling, exposed brick fronts reminded me of a farmers market from my old home town. As you walk around from display to display, the assortment of ancient treasures was unparallel-able. There was rows of vintage furniture and household items, with the retro colours, shapes and designs. Other stalls seemed to focus on old vintage toys, with everything from Howdy Doody, to Ninja Turtles, to very antiqued metallic toy trains. There was a view vintage shops which had collections of old records, paintings, books, license plates and other odd knick knacks you might find at a garage sale. Of course, this vintage market wouldn’t have been complete if they hadn’t all been selling their old artifacts out of the back of retro Volkswagon Campers. Amidst the stalls were a few shops featuring newer items, though most of which contained very funky, retro types of products.
I’d like to send a special thank you to Stephanie from Real Footprints for bringing Marianne and I out to this circus!
The unique layout of the complex is actually because it was an old train yard. The entire grounds, if emptied of all their tents, would still look just like a train yard – with an outdoor train-car yard, and an indoor sheltered area which would have been where passengers platforms were located. Trains are huge, as are the yards in which they’re stored. This train yard market is no exception to that rule.
Originally set up by antique lovers Thanayut ‘Troy’ and Khun Phirot to be a small market area. Rot Fai’s vintage market was intended to compliment their own neighbouring business “Rod’s Antiques“, which dealt in antiques as well as serving up food and drinks. After a few successful months, the popularity had grown and people started arriving in waves! It became an overnight success! Now having been in operation a couple years, it’s started attracting regulars. The vintage items in a modern market that was converted from an old train yard might be ironic enough for hipsters to be cool with. According to CNN Travel, “The Rot Fai Market has been given the nick name “Talad Dek Naew,” a term for Thai youth who love to dress like hipsters and wear retro clothes”.
Food & Entertainment
As you would expect in most large market areas, there are a number of food stalls lining the strip. With everything from the typical Moo Yang (pork on a stick), to Japanese Tapanyaki, to noodle soups, you’ll find the typical fare. There was, however, other areas which were set up as more traditional patio restaurants, some of which even had their food prepared in a converted VW Van. I saw at least half a dozen places selling steaks… STEAKS? In Thailand, that’s a rare food fare to find in a market. It’s especially rare to see it with beef on the menu. Chicken steaks were going for about 79 Thai Baht ($2.65 USD) and Beef steaks for roughly double that, which appeared to even include a side dish.
There was several converted VW Van bars, typically found in touristy districts around Thailand, serving up a variety of alcoholic beverages, and often inclusive of a laser light show. However, there was one place which seemed so classy it was almost out of place. It was the initial building I had seen while coming in to the property, which had the exposed brick. They had a much more formal dining environment, with proper full service to the tables, and towers of beer being consumed by the Thai college students that seemed to occupy much of the venue. Inside, the walls are tastefully decorated in some very interesting, vintage paraphernalia such as lit up old circuit boards, etc. There was a band playing classic rock a-la-Thai, and it seemed like a cool spot to even just head out for the evening, market outside forgotten.
Now apparently, there’s even old bogey train cars on the property, but I wasn’t able to find them. From what I’ve researched, they’re open to the public to go in and have a drink, and just watch the chaos outside. It was certainly going to be a highlight of the evening, but the grounds are so big and the night was wearing on, so we decided to save it for anther trip up there. This should just aid in gauging the scale of how big this place is… we couldn’t even find the train cars!!
Hours of Operation: Sat-Sun: 4 pm – 12 midnight on Saturdays & Sundays Only!
Address: Talad Rot Fai market covers a big area of land, so I haven’t been able to find an exact postal address. However, it’s not too complicated to get to. Take the MRT (Subway) to Kampaeng Phet Station. Get out at exit 3 (Or Tor Gor Market) then cross the road and walk about 450 meters west on Kampaeng Phet Road, away from Chatujak Market. You will see large entrance gates on your right once you’ve passed a small club called “Fake Club”
View Where Sidewalks End in a larger map
Although it’s very busy with local residents from around Bangkok, it’s still fairly low lying on the tourist radar. I only noticed a few that seemed to be non-residents and had found their way there. It was not difficult to find, as we just followed the crowds of younger people moving away from Chatuchak Market on their way there. With a good mix of music, food, friendly smiles and laughter – this place had it all, with a healthy does of weird and whacky artifacts, new and old! You may not be leaving with many souvenirs of Thailand visiting a place like this, but you’ll certainly enjoy checking out all the vintage gear they have on display!
Have you ever been to a ‘train graveyard’ before? Have you been to a market in a place that wasn’t originally intended to be a market? What’s the biggest garage sale you’ve ever seen? Please feel free to share your stories in the comment section below!