On my last visit to Bangkok I had a chance to check out a market located just outside the Tha Chang Pier, which for many, is the gateway to the Grand Palace from the Chao Praya River. The pier is a stop along the river for many ferries and boats, so local vendors have setup a large number of mom-and-pop eateries and souvenir shops in order to capitalize on the traffic. Thus, creating a wonderful opportunity for tourists and travelers to sample a large selection of Thai cuisine conveniently.
Our tour guide that we found on Viator, Napha Ploykrajang, helped us navigate the complex system of ferries/boats that meander through the Chao Praya River. Honestly, the river was not pretty at all. Since it was the rainy season, the water was a bleak looking brown color and the banks were flooding. However, the boat ride did help us bypass the notoriously bad Bangkok traffic and got us to the Grand Palace in about 15 minutes.
At the Tha Chang Pier, you will walk through a wooden pier that leads you to a small open air market. There will be an abundance of food to choose from, of which, many will be completely foreign and perhaps, intimidating to look at. Most guide books will tell you to dive right in. Sure, that’s one way to do it. But honestly, I prefer easing my way in since the western stomach may not be able to handle the preparation methods that the locals may be accustomed to. But hey, to each their own. Sometimes when your stomach is growling and the Pad Thai just looks so damn good, you have to dive right in.
The first thing I was able to try was this fresh, young coconut. Typically I hate coconuts, but the young coconuts here were a lot sweeter and the taste was a lot milder than a regular coconut(or coconut water). Once you order from the vendor, they’ll pick up a machete and begin hacking at the top of the coconut till a hole appears. As they do this, I can’t help but wonder – “how do they not lose a finger?”
Best thing was that it was only 50 baht($1.80 USD) and it was damn refreshing in the muggy humidity. You gotta love the fact that food is so affordable in this awesome country!
As you walk through the market, you’ll see a variety of fresh juices, soups, noodle dishes, rice dishes and an assortment of different fruits. One of my favorites is the abundance of fresh fruits(on ice no less) that looked absolutely refreshing.
When you make your purchase on a bag of pre-cut fruits, they will provide you with a packet of a salty/sweet mix that you pour into your fruit bag, shake it up, and then eat. Adding salt to fruits is definitely an Asian thing to do, since most of my relatives in Taiwan also add salt onto watermelon in order to elevate the natural sweetness of the fruit. If you don’t want to over indulgence your taste buds, then just dip your fruit into the mix rather than pour the entire mix into the bag. One other thing you’ll notice is that this piece of fruit, a guava, is brightly colored red on the outside. I suspect it’s either been doused in sugar water in order for it to appear sweeter and more eye catching.
Some packaged fruits for sale. Durian fruit can be illegal to eat/bring aboard certain public transports since it smells worse than roadkill skunks. But of course, that’s completely subjective as I don’t have the stomach(or the nose) for durian to being with.
Fixings to be used in your noodle or rice dish. You can simply tell/point to the items that you want and the vendors will cook it up fast and fresh for you.
Tons and tons of fruit vendors await you. Remember, the prices are pretty good and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to try as many things as possible.
Tha Chang PIer Pedestrian Market
Phra Nakhon, จังหวัด กรุงเทพมหานคร, Bangkok, Thailand