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Patpong night market and the surrounding area on Silom Road is highlighted in most guide books as one of Bangkok’s best places to shop and eat. Yet we reckon there's a better market right in the Silom area where you’ll likely be the only foreigner in sight. It’s called Lalai Sap, and it emerges from a maze of unassuming side streets every week day.
In the shadow of high-rise office buildings and hotels near the busy intersection where Silom Road meets Naradhiwas Rajanagarindra Road, Lalai Sap is set back in a network of narrow alleys and open-air buildings. Countless tourists are consistently found on the main roads of this area, but they’re generally unaware of Lalai Sap’s existence right around the corner.
Unlike many Bangkok markets, which are often specifically focused on, for example, clothing, prepared foods or fresh foods (but not all of these together), Lalai Sap resembles rural Thailand’s ubiquitous evening markets in that it offers a little of everything. Expect to see shoes, fresh veggies, baked goods, toys, fresh fish, cheap clothes, and all sorts of prepared foods, all in the same place.
Closer to the main roads, you’ll find carts offering fresh fruit sliced to order, Thai-style coffee and tea, and finger foods like Chinese-style veggie dumplings, sai krog (northeastern Thai sausage), and tod mun pla (fried fish cakes).
Don’t fill up on the snack-y stuff though. Deeper inside Lalai Sap you’ll discover a host of sit-down restaurants, which include all the noodles and som tam you can imagine along with one of Bangkok’s best roast duck joints. Go further still and you’ll find a food court style sit-down area where you can choose between any number of Thai classics, including curries and stir-fries at one of the many kap khao stalls.
While the indoor spots are convenient for a quick and cheap sit down lunch, we’ve become partial to a woman just outside the food-court area who dishes out some home-made kap khao foods for take away that just might have you calling the airline to extend your stay in Bangkok. See those orange-yellow stir-fried hunks just above the crab in the picture below? That’s spicy pumpkin and you’re going to want to try it.
After filling your belly, Lalai Sap is also a great place to pick up that 200 baht dress that’s been on your mind. While clothing and shoe stalls are mixed in with food throughout the market, a large indoor boutique area is entirely devoted to clothes. Shopaholics, be warned — just when they seem to come to an end, another fresh strip of wears will magically appear.
To the average passerby, Lalai Sap presents itself from the main roads as a small, unassuming handful of stalls, which is why it remains a secret to tourists. After getting swept up in the crowds — and be prepared for tightly packed crowds, especially around noon when the market brims with lunch-breaking locals — you’ll quickly realise that this is one of the better all-purpose markets in the entire city. Given its easily accessible location near the office buildings of Silom and Sathorn, it’s also a fine place to get a feel for what daily life is like for Bangkok office workers.
How to get there
From Sala Daeng BTS station, head west on Silom for about a half kilometre and take a left down one of the alleys before the major intersection where the sky train track curves to the left (just look for the vendors lining the alleys). If coming from Chong Nonsi station, take exit 4, then walk straight at the bottom of the stairs and take the first right down the side street at Top Charoen Optical.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 15th May, 2014.