Vintage shopping in Bangkok is now the new trend, and hunting for vintage treasure items in furniture, clothes, accessories and several other curios has become a new found passion of the locals and likewise tourists who are making a beeline to the city’s vintage storehouses. Plenty of such vintage treasure-troves have mushroomed all over the place, not to mention the high-end boutique shops in the fashion areas of Thong Lor and Ekkamai who have also begun to stock some of the vintage stuff in toys, old designer frocks, telephones and furniture.
Talad Rod Fai – Oldest Hub of Bangkok’s Vintage Shopping
One of the oldest hotspots for vintage shopping is the Talad Rod Fai weekend market or the ‘train market’ as it is called. It is located on Kampaeng Phet Road which is just a hop, skip and jump from the renowned Chatuchak Weekend Market. In contrast, Talad Roi Fai is a group of old buildings belonging to the railway department storage section. It holds shops and stalls which have an incredible array of inexpensive vintage clothing along with modern fashion items, other vintage stuff, a few pubs and antique stores. The whole place comes alive at night-time as the temporary stalls open shop.
All credit for establishing this vintage market-place goes to Phairod Roiakew, a veteran Chatuchak vendor who first began operating his business from one of the rented railway warehouses. This was the month of June 2010 and after establishing his bar, restaurant and antique shop named ‘Rod’ he pulled in other interested vintage vendors and soon this became a big place with a wide variety of vintage stuff to choose from. You could eat as you shop, because there’s a wide variety of street food like Thai milk tea and barbecued meat, but one needed to carry a torch while shopping to combat the spells of darkness that occurred because of the occasional power cuts.
Unfortunately, the market had to shift its location in 2013 and move on to Sri Nagarindra which is behind the Seacon Square Shopping Mall beyond the city centre. Today, this market is divided into three parts namely the ‘Warehouse Zone’, ‘Market Zone’ and ‘Rod’s Antiques’. All said and done, one has to but agree that there is no other place in the whole of Bangkok that can replicate the liveliness and the welcoming feel of this outdoor night market.
Talad Rod Fai’s Vintage Shopping Entrepreneurs
You will encounter some typical retro entrepreneurs here as you scout for your desired vintage stuff. One of them is the youngish Waleeva Phanomphan. Dressed in informal clothes, she sells an assortment of vintage blouses and accessories. She has a personal passion for all stuff vintage and fortunately she could turn her passion into a thriving business. Scouting for treasured stuff in the flea markets, second-hand stores and garage sales outside the city and selling them here on weekends is her business. In her words she just cannot miss not coming to this most happening place. Her greatest marketing tool is her Facebook page wherein she models all her stuff along with her dog.
As you go deeper well past these stalls, you come to one of the most fascinating of all shops, ‘Chev’s’. The eponymous owner, Chev reveals that his store is a one stop destination for all things vintage, and further discloses that the most expensive of his wares is the mythological Thai half-bird and half-man, the ‘Garuda’. The selling price as stated by him is nothing less than 50,000 baht. Many regulars frequent his shop and one of them, Piyapon Phongdej offers his comments as he shows his beautiful buy of garden furniture and wrought-iron trellis.
Opening Hours: 1700 – Midnight (Thursday – Sunday)
Location: Srinakarin Road Soi 51 (behind Seacon Square)
Getting There: Take the BTS to On Nut Station and take a taxi from there.
Rod Fai Market Ratchada
According to the Tourism Authority of Thailand, if you love the Rod Fai Market in Shrinakarin Road above, but find it difficult to travel to, there is another Rod Fai Market that is more accessible. You can just take the BTS to Thailand Cultural Centre Station – it is just situated at the Ratchada area of Bangkok, close to the Esplanade Shopping Mall. This Rod Fai Market retains the antique feel and street food stalls of the original Rod Fai Market.
Opening Hours: 1700 – Midnight (Thursday – Sunday)
Location: Ratcadaphisek Road (close to Esplanade Shopping Mall)
Getting There: Take the MRT to Thailand Cultural Centre Station
Siam Square – Recent Haunt for Vintage Shopping
A 20-minute train ride from Talad Rod Fai brings one to this place whose vintage offerings are priced slightly higher than those at the Rod Fai market. Among these, the best of all is ‘His & Her Vintage’ owned by Subrat Misra and wife Kulthida Maneerat. Their boutique collection holds more of vintage accessories like hats and jewellery more than vintage clothing, all being imported from America. She too utilizes her boutique’s Facebook Page to the fullest. Misra’s domain is the area of retro glasses and he can rattle names off the hook of all the vintage eyeglass frames that are the ‘in thing’ lately. He admits that the vintage craze in Bangkok is a borrowed influence from Japan.
Other Vintage Shopping in Bangkok
Shades of Retro: Housed on a side street, this is partly a bar and partly a vintage furniture store. Its speciality is retro Danish designs and collectibles besides being an unhip bar. You can relish a cheap Beerlao and a burger under the open leisurely nights of the bar or make an authentic vintage buy.
ZudRangMa Records: A one stop destination for all lovers of differing genres of vintage music. One can either sit and listen to luk thung (well-loved Thai music), mor lam ( its Lao counterpart), Middle Eastern psych, Thai Shadow, Reggae and Dancehall. Otherwise, purchase a yesteryear record by Donna Summer or Blondie.
Thai Auto Vintage: This is more of a museum than a store with its huge collection of vintage automobile signs ranging from the classic Soviet style BMW of 1965s to the Jaguar E-types of the 1960s to the Mercedes 220S of the 1956s.
Again and Again: A swanky upmarket store which holds vintage chunky costume jewellery, handbags and frocks has all its items curated by the fashion editor of Thailand’s popular fashion magazine, ‘Marie Claire Thailand’.
Fotoguffy: A store that has a comprehensive collection of hip cameras; they are specialists in toy cameras and they offer anything from fluorescent Polaroids to Lomography Diana cameras.
Cocue Basics: One of the biggest of the lot, this shop seems to appear straight out of an East London street or Berlin and is stocked with items such as timeless jeans, retro military jackets and cute frocks.
JJ Green Market: The JJ Green Market sells antiques and secondhand clothes, and there are also many bars which open until after midnight during the weekends. This market is also very close to Chatuchak – you can just stop at Mo Chit Station.
Papaya55: One of the not to miss stores in the vintage category is the Papaya store. Spread over a vast expanse of 5000 SQM, this store has become more of a monument dedicated to vintage stuff rather than being a vintage seller’s point. Some of the rare items have found a permanent place for themselves in the store and are no longer kept for sale. The warehouse has everything that is retro, dating from the 60s onwards and includes some one-of-a-kind furniture pieces, decorative items, toys, statuettes, weird and zany electronic stuff and many more. Though the items do not come for cheap it is still a place that no vintage connoisseur can afford to miss.
Bangkok as such is a very lively city and these vintage shopping areas only add to the glamour of the city. If you have other places of interest when it comes to vintage shopping in Bangkok, don’t forget to write to us and we’ll add it to the list!