Ratchada Night Market (Rot Fai), Bangkok
Ratchadaphisek Road, Khwaeng Din Daeng
Our first night in Bangkok was also our first ever night market experience. We had our eye on the famous Soi 38 market in the Thong Lo area but sadly that market is no more thanks to the redevelopment around the area of properties. We needed a late sub and randomly came across a market known as Ratchada Train Night Market, now of course The New Rot Fai Night Market Ratchada, a relatively new market located behind Thailand Cultural Centre to the north of the city.
Getting to the market from our base at Lumphini was very easy as Thailand Cultural Centre metro station was a mere five stops without any changes. The prime reason for attending the market was to get our first taste of authentic Thai food with the advantage of this market specialising in street food stalls. As we exited the station onto the street we were met by street food vendors already set up and selling delicious looking dishes. We managed to resist the urge knowing the mass choice of Thai goodies that lay in wait for us.
The market is easy to reach especially if you adopt the ‘if in doubt, follow the crowd’ method of direction. This place is very popular with the younger generation of Bangkok as the stalls are surrounded by bars serving a variety of both asian and western dishes and serving a good selection of alcohol often with a side of karaoke. The market, due to the bar’s, can be quite a loud experience but the smell of fresh street food proved a good distraction.
We decided to walk around the market first before purchasing anything, due mainly to 1) We were complete novices at Thai food and 2) the place was massive! There are also clothing vendors selling a variety of t-shirts, shoes, bags and suchlike with the market split down the middle to separate the food from the fashion.
Our first purchase was the fresh orange juice that we had heard was some of the freshest you can get – and believe me it was. Very good value at just 30THB (£0.45). Walking around the stalls sends your senses into overdrive, there’s just so much here. Squid, pad thai, fried octopus, thai sweets – a whole assortment of all things delicious.
Some people ask us how we can be brave enough to try food from someone with no obvious refrigeration facilities, rubber gloves and tongs that we associate with hygiene in the west. Well our answer to that is to follow a set of simple rules: If it looks good, smells good and the stall is busy then go for it. Go with your instincts, not everything looked appetising so just trust your judgement.
We picked up some pork skewers for 60THB (£1.37) for four pieces of sweet pork slathered in a spicy sauce and grilled over sizzling coals – our idea of heaven. These skewers were just amazing with the meat juicy and hot fresh off the grill. The sauce reminded us of a Thai style char siu barbecue style marinade. Very nice flavour.
Next up we went a bit random and picked out some Thai meatballs, again on a skewer, trying two skewers for 20 BHT (£0.45) these bad boys packed a real kick of chilli but with an amazing sweet, sticky sauce providing an addictive pairing. These were so good and really good quality.
Communicating with the vendors was easy enough, many speak a little English but if you’re not a native speaker then just indicating what you would like and how many normally results in a game of charades that creates a mutual understanding. The Thai people are incredibly friendly so don’t be shy of approaching vendor’s to try their incredible products.
This market is strongly recommended for a first look at the tantalising street food that Bangkok is so famed for. We took a huge wad of baht notes with us but a lot of them weren’t needed, this place is dirt cheap for some of the best food that we tried across the city. The atmosphere is lively and fun with the opportunity to sit down and watch some Premier League football in the surrounding pub’s if that’s your thing. We wouldn’t hesitate to return.
Opening times: Tuesday-Sunday 1700-0100
Nearest Metro: Thailand Cultural Centre