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Straddling a canal that shoots east from the Chao Phraya River, Thewet Market is an authentic neighbourhood wet market within relatively easy reach of Khao San Road. While nowhere near the size of Khlong Toei or Bang Kapi, it’s equally pungent and colourful. Weak stomachs be warned.
Despite its relatively small size and many decades in operation, Thewet Market remains bustling. Extending inland along the north bank of Phadung Krung Kasem canal, the main roofed corridor is stuffed with fresh vegetables and dozens of varieties of chillies, still-flapping fish, hanging cuts of raw meat, tubs of curry paste and live chickens caged in giant baskets.
You’ll also find packaged goods such as bottled fish sauce, noodles, Chinese food products, sacks of rice, bags of garlic cloves, peanuts, dried chillies and other spices. Everything you need to make just about any Thai dish can be found in Thewet. In the early morning, motorbikes and porters battle for space in a frantic push to get the freshest of the fresh to their stalls.
Stiff competition means that buyers can expect plus-size bundles of extremely fresh fruit and produce at bargain prices. Most of the seafood is kept half-alive in shallow buckets, and a popular merit-making activity among locals is to buy a fish or eel and set it free in the river. If you’re in need of some good travel luck, might as well give it a shot.
Stalls spilling out onto Samsen Road are stacked with fresh fruit, flower garlands and typical street food bites like Isaan sausage and grilled sticky rice treats. Directly across the street you’ll find hole-in-the-wall shops slinging roast duck with rice or egg noodles, som tam and bright bouquets of Thai sweets. Look for the street cart selling mini pouches of pad mii Khorat, a less-sweet variation of pad Thai that hails from Nakhon Ratchasima (or Khorat) province.
Along Krung Kasem Road, due east of the pier and across the canal from the roofed market, a handful of makeshift shops focus on plants and everything you need to grow them. This was once among Bangkok’s largest plant markets, and while it’s since been overtaken by a plant centre near Chatuchak, it’s still a fine place to pick up delicately hanging orchids, potted rose and hibiscus bushes or a young clementine tree. You’ll also find dirt cheap packets of seeds for vegetables and spices that aren’t commonly found in the West.
Thewet makes a great starting point for a morning of sightseeing in Dusit.
How to get there
While you can reach the market after a 20-minute walk up Samsen Road from Khao San, nearby Thewet express boat pier makes it easy to access from anywhere along the Chao Phraya. From the pier, walk straight onto Krung Kasem Road, passing the plant vendors, take a left onto Samsen Road and then an immediate left into the roofed market's cave-like entrance.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 14th May, 2014.