Antiques Shopping Secret in Bangkok

Whether you are looking for second-hand furniture, antique temple furniture or retro trinkets, the market stalls around Wat Suan Kaew offer all this-and much more.

Hunting for antiques and vintage furniture in Bangkok is fun, but difficult. There are many beautiful things to be found in well-known markets like Chatuchak Playground (an open-air flea market next to the Chatuchak weekend market) and Talad Rot Fai, but the prices are often much higher than in the West.

When we renovated our new commercial building, Wat Suan Kaew saved our bank account. Sort of a secret for expats, this temple just outside Bangkok is home to one of the best second-hand markets in this part of the country. Be warned, however-most sellers have done little in the way of conservation and their wares range from real trash to unique antique gems. It’s a nightmare for germ eaters and cute monsters, but a playground for treasure hunters.

Upon arrival, you come across a six-story building completely covered with mismatched mosaic tiles. Although the products on offer are not very interesting (plastic household items, inexpensive electronics and piles of used clothes sold by the kilo), the view from the top floor is worth climbing the kaleidoscopic stairs. On the ground floor there are several teak furniture workshops with daybeds, wardrobes and coffee tables that are much more affordable than in the most popular markets in the city center. Across the street is the multi-level parking lot where large pieces of furniture are collected and sold. It’s worth taking a look if you’re looking for something specific, but during our multiple visits here, it was mostly a hodgepodge of yellowed mattresses, stained sofas and creepy hospital beds.

Follow the road past the Open-air Restaurant where the fun really begins: a tangle of alleys lined with stalls spread over a block offering just about everything you can imagine. The first two alleys are mainly devoted to what could be called collectibles: Vintage enamel plates, religious figures, tattered antique store signs, retro toys and colorful Vintage cookie jars alongside a whole bunch of other original little things that you probably don’t need, but

The next two alleys are lined with larger objects: Chinese antiques inlaid with mother-of-pearl, stained glass doors recovered from demolished Thai houses, ceramic vases the size of a man and an endless range of wardrobes, cabinets and side tables. Most of them are in good condition, because here the traders have selected and repaired only the best parts before putting them on sale. The alley ends with a warehouse of used furniture ranging from sturdy industrial lamps to plastic mannequins, antique European clocks and porcelain Guan Yin statues (in addition to batteries of almost everything else, so you will have to paw through the shelves to find the right things).

And as if you were taking the best for last, you will find the real treasures in the collection of shops at the end of the track. Several semi-open warehouses are full of retro furniture and Accessories such as ornate prayer bowls, carved wooden side tables and, if you’re lucky, the strange designer piece (during our last visit, we bought a set of Le Corbusier Cassina armchairs for only THB 8,000!). Around the warehouses are several shops selling colorful retro Thai products such as posters, old-fashioned packaging, Tiffin boxes and other kitschy souvenirs.

How to get to Wat Suan Kaew

Wat Suan Kaew is located in Nonthaburi, about a 45-minute drive from Bangkok city center. Calling a Taxi on the street can be difficult, but rideshare drivers like Grab usually have no problem driving this far from the city. Alternatively, you can reach Wat Suan Kaew by MRT (Bang Phlu Station), followed by a short hop in a Taxi or Songtaew.

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