Bangkok’s Hipster Hangout: Dalat Rot Fai
What started out as a small weekend gathering has turned into an impressive display of permanent, brick and mortar shops and cafes, along with a mess of stalls, tents and even pop up bars. Dalat Rot Fai, which translates to ‘Train Market’, was originally situated around abandoned train tracks near Chatuchak Market and Mo Chit Bus Station but this year it moved to a new, more developed location southeast of the city center near Seacon Square shopping center (locals and taxi drivers will know where this is, though many foreigners probably haven’t heard of it). While part of Dalat Rot Fai’s initial draw was the out of the way, intimate setting, the new location (directions on how to get to the new location are listed below) is still full of character, interesting people and quirky goods. Basically, everything is asking to be Instagram-ed.
The area is so large that, after turning off the main road, you walk through rows of shop spaces before actually reaching the central market area. From there it seems to fan out with several different sections including multiple shop buildings, eating areas and bars, more stalls, and even people displaying their products out on the ground or table flea market-style.
Everywhere you look there are shops, tents, food and people – lots of people. And most of whom seem under the age of 25. You won’t see many Beer Chang tank tops or traveler harem pants here, but instead get a look at what’s actually popular and trendy in Thailand.
Dalat Rot Fai’s New Location
Dalat Rot Fai is now located slightly southwest of the center of Bangkok close to Seacon Square shopping center on Srinakarin Road (sometimes spelled Srinagarindra Road) in the Prawet District. DALAT ROT FAI IS NO LONGER NEAR CHATUCHAK MARKET. If you’re facing the front of Seacon Square on Srinakarin Road, the entrance to Dalat Rot Fai is on the righthand side. Turn left at the orange sign and follow the crowds. When you’re done, come back out to this point to hail a taxi.
How to get there
Dalat Rot Fai’s new location is away from the center of town and where many travelers stay. While there are a couple BTS stations relatively close to the market, you would still need to get a taxi to take you the rest of the way. With that in mind, it’s easier to just get a cab for the entire trip. A taxi from the center of town at Chit Lom BTS Station straight to the market was 140 baht (less than $5). It took about 30 minutes to get there and about an hour to get back to the hotel since it was 11:00 p.m. on a Saturday night. If you want to take the Sky Train and then grab a taxi, get off at On Nut or Udom Station. A taxi from there to the market will cost about 60 baht. If you’re by yourself you might save a few extra baht but if you’re going with others it will probably be cheaper to split the cab fare. The area around the market and Seacon Square tends to get backed up and our driver let us out on the opposite side of the road from the market where this a pedestrian overpass to cross the eight lanes of traffic.
When to go
Dalat Rot Fai’s plaza area with permanent shops and additional market area with stalls, etc. are open Thursday through Sunday. Opening hours are 5:00 p.m. – 1:00 a.m. I went to the market around 8:00 p.m. on a Saturday and things were in full swing. When I left around 10:00 p.m. people were still pouring in. (Note: These times are accurate as of July 2014)
What to do
Eat, wander and just hang out. There was so. much. food. From quick snack stalls for grabbing something while you walk, to coffee shops and bars. Even if you’re not a big shopper, or Thai teenager, it’s a great place to explore and people watch. Just wandering around expect to spend at least a couple hours.