If you would like to discover how daily life in Bangkok used to be from the 1960s to the late 1980s, head to JJ Mall. The not-so-attractive shopping mall is a heaven to discover and buy treasures from past decades.
Anyone in Bangkok, Thais and visitors alike, have heard about Chatuchak market, considered to be the largest flea market in the world. During the weekend the market is filled with thousands of shoppers looking for the best bargains. However, if you feel tired of sharing your best addresses at the market with thousands of others, cross Kamphaeng Phet Road and make a trip to the past.
There is something unique about Thai people. In contrary to some other cultures in Southeast Asia, Thais seem to enjoy keeping all the objects of their daily life forever. Shops and even homes of people are often filled with thousands of more or less useful objects. Are Thai people turning sentimental or nostalgic of a time long-gone? This is possible. However, for amateurs of flea markets, Bangkok is equivalent to an Ali Baba cave.
Flea markets are multiplying around town. While the Rotfai Night Market has long been considered as the right place to shop for vintage items and antiques, its relocation at Sri Nakharin Road makes it today less accessible for foreign visitors. Thanks to the proximity of the BTS and MRT, JJ Mall is turning now into a significant place to look for anyone searching after the perfect antiques.
From an architecture point of view, JJ Mall is far from something to marvel at. For a long time, the structure stood abandoned facing the JJ Market. Work has been conducted to upgrade and renovate the area. Still, while it doesn’t look so nice from the outside, do not get fooled by the first look. JJ Mall is a paradise for shoppers looking to discover the objects of Bangkokians’ daily life, mostly from the late sixties to the early nineties.
The mall has four levels of shopping zones integrating hundreds of shops. The inside has been rebranded into ‘Chatuchak Flea Market Playground’. Moreover, during the weekend, the first-level pavement is also filled with last minute sellers. It looks like a giant museum of what could be ‘Swinging Bangkok’.
Objects on sale include anything possible remembering the 60s, 70s and 80s. Stroll around, and you can find old records and magazines, toys, furniture, advertising signage, school books, bags, lamps and even clothing and shoes. This is a place where the most exquisite paintings are facing hideous sculptures next to broken transistors, jugs or typewriters with missing keys!
One of the cheapest collectable vintage object: former school posters feel genuinely ingrained in ‘Thainess’ values through good manners, history, costumes and customs. Posters are sold from just THB50, and bargaining is of course possible.
Inside the mall, shops are more sophisticated. The ground floor is dedicated to furniture with many vintage pieces dating back to the seventies, including rare sofas and chairs. There are also cabinets, tables and dressers. Some designers also create tailor-made furniture inspired by the sixties and seventies. The second floor is dedicated to accessories with a couple of shops selling vintage lighting, while the third floor has a range of shops selling old toys including rare models of cars and soldiers.
Vintage treasures are in trend in Bangkok, and Chatuchak Playground Flea Market is undoubtedly one of the best places in town to enjoy the revival style.
Information: Chatuchak Playground Flea Market is open every day except Monday and Thursday. The mall has extensive opening hours from 11 am to 9 pm on Tuesday and Wednesday and from 11am to 10pm from Friday to Sunday. The closest MRT station is Kamphaeng Phet.