Bangkok has a lot of shopping, entertainment and dining to offer – but one of the most fun places to find all of it, with a beautiful setting on the river Chao Phraya no less, is Asiatique. A while back, the old night market at Lumpini Park near the Silom/Sathorn area, was shut down and a new home for the many vendors was needed. And if you have ever been to the Lumpini night market, you will be in for a surprise.
The night market was similar to many other in Thailand: Little stands, selling everything under the sun, with a focus on fake products inspired by global brands, and a bewildering mix of food stalls, basic afairs with mostly with local fare. When they built Asiatique, they took it to a whole new level. They started with an area South of Sathorn, situated right on the river, difficult to reach by car, but only 20 minutes by boat (free) from Saphan Taksin BTS. When you approach, you can see the ferris wheel from afar, with rows of low structures next to it. You disembark to the promenade, lined by nice restaurants. From traditional Thai food and Italian in a find-dining setting to a number of seafood restaurants, you have plenty of choices. All offer in-door and outdoor seating, with a view over the river. From the promenade, a number of alleys lead away from the river, all lined with stands and stores, selling, you guessed it, everything under the sun, but better! In addition to a few less-than-genuine products, T-shirts and a lot of souvernirs, you find many unique products from small local designers and manufacturers, much nicer than the typcial market, closer to Terminal 21 in quality. As you wander, you find the “market place” of the village, with more restaurants and food stalls – anything from steaks to Japanese, from coffee shops to snacks and ice cream. There is something for every taste and every budget, something else you won’t find in your typical market either. You can probably spend hours walking up and down the aisles without seeing the same stand twice (although you might… get lost that is), and more time on food and drink. While we were quite happy to browse the stalls and watch the crowds walking by the restaurant we picked, there is also a movie theater and some shows to keep you entertained.
If that sounds like a nice plan to spend an evening, Asiatique is open from 5pm till late, with (free) boats leaving from the pier at Saphan Taksin BTS at 4:30pm. It gets pretty crowded on Friday and Saturday, with lots of locals and tourists enjoying an evening out, and the line for the boat gets long – if you don’t want to wait, you can take the regular river boat (read here) instead or if you are staying at a riverside hotel, some of their boats go to Asiatique as well. Come hungry and bring cash to shop – and your camera for some sunset photos! Asiatique makes for a great evening out on the river – enjoy!