Bangkok’s historic flower market operates indoors and out, around the clock. For generations of Thais, the market’s been running for as long as they can remember — but for how many years is disputed. Some say that an iteration of it has been a mainstay of Bangkok commerce for as long as a century.
The bustling wholesale market acts as the main supplier of blooms for the entire city, selling gorgeous arrangements for weddings and the city’s five-star hotels, bouquets for your beloved, and simple garlands that will be left at the the city’s thousands of temples.
From simple marigolds meant to scatter around shrines to ornate, oversized tropical stems, you can find it all at the market, called Pak Khlong Talad by locals.
Located in Old Town, the air becomes fragrant as you approach the market. Don’t get too lost in a floral daydream, though — the market’s pretty bustling, and there are people with crates, baskets, bags, and pushcarts full of flowers rushing and weaving in the pathways to deliver blooms to waiting cars and trucks.
The market is busiest from midnight to just before dawn. Flowers are delivered daily from the neighboring provinces of Nakhon Pathom, Samut Sakhon, and Samut Songkhram, starting at about 12am.
Exotic blooms from Northern Thailand and abroad arrive regularly as well. City florists begin to arrive not long after the flowers are delivered to buy stems for their shops.
Even if you aren’t a night owl and won’t stay up late enough to see the market’s real action, we recommend going after dark since the market is very hot during the day and can be a bit sleepy too.
Literally. Since the market is open around the clock, it’s not uncommon to see sellers sleeping amongst the buds during the day when the market is quiet.
A phuang malai, or flower garland, of jasmine and marigold can be had here for as little as THB10 (US$0.31). These are purchased to leave at shrines or hang in your car or from your motorbike for good luck. A simple bouquet of dyed carnations can cost as little as THB20 (US$0.63).
However, don’t be surprised if you feel snubbed as you count out your one baht coins. In most cases, the vendors are looking to fill large, wholesale orders and therefore, may pay tourists little to no mind.
For us, a visit to the flower market is more of a watching experience than a buying one. Especially entertaining: Seeing the vendors string garlands at lightning speed, slap together artful arrangements, and dash to deliver their wares.
After exploring the market, you can get some refreshments at one of the most enchanting cafes in Bangkok. Napasorn has an ever-changing, whimsical floral decor scheme and is hidden away above a flower shop itself.
Pak Khlong Talad (Bangkok Flower Market)
116 Chakkraphet Rd.
All photos: Laurel Tuohy/Coconuts Media