Apr 29 2011
After pretty much just a few hours in Thailand, you will notice that Buddhist amulets are everywhere. People wear them around their necks, hang them from their rearview mirrors, keep them on desks, on tables, at home, at work, and everywhere in between.
Carrying an amulet on you is meant to invite good fortune, protect you from evil spirits and keep you strong against physical danger. Different amulets even offer protection as specific as guarding a vehicle from oncoming traffic. When a friend from overseas recently came to visit me in Bangkok she asked the all-important question: “Where do people buy these amulets?”
While street vendors sell amulets all over the city, the most comprehensive amulet market, known as Amulet Alley, sits impressively along the entire length of Prachan Road between Sanam Luang and the river. Only a 10-minute walk from the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew, the market makes an excellent pit stop along the classic Grand Palace--Wat Pho--Wat Arun sightseeing tour.
Each vendor sits with a small table-top or storefront shop selling amulets, photographs and figurines costing a few baht up to a few thousand baht. The value of the amulets is based upon the detail and craftsmanship but also upon the the importance of the monk called upon to bless and consecrate it.
While the market is mostly frequented by monks, Buddhists and extreme collectors, it is a superb spot for people-watching or perusing through the endless trays of amulets in search of the perfect unique item. On a recent trip to the market I scored brightly coloured amulets and charms for under 100 baht each, which I have since made into a personalised necklace.
The market is bustling throughout the day with many of the vendors closing up shop around 17:00. Set in an auspicious place for religious purposes, which also happens to be a convenient place for touristic purposes, the market is a little-seen window into Thai Buddhism and a worthwhile detour, even if you don’t plan on making any purchases.
The market is an easy walk from the Grand Palace. It sits on Prachan Road between Na Phra That and the river.
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