Splashing across the wet concrete at Khlong Toei Market, we regretted our choice of sandals and wondered if wellies would have been more sensible. We stopped suddenly as another stall holder sloshed a bowl of fetid water across our path.
Browsing the seafood section, we passed piles of whole prawns and live crabs with their claws carefully bound. Fish lay gasping in trays of water so shallow they could barely survive. They flopped and writhed so vigorously that what little water there was splattered our legs.
Surprisingly, the dead fish splashed even more. Especially the heads of recently decapitated catfish, jaws still chomping and whiskers twitching. We had come to Khlong Toei Market to buy some fruit. We were not expecting to need a shower by the time we left.
The Offending Catfish Heads
Buying Meat At Khlong Toei Market
The meat section was less wet but no less interesting. We saw pigs dissected into all their component parts. Stalls displayed stacks of pigs' faces next to mounds of livers and intestines. There were also chicken's feet and freshly roasted ducks laid out just a little too close to the raw meat.
Most of the birds we saw at Khlong Toei Market however, were alive. We walked between towering piles of plastic crates, the feathers sticking out giving us some clue of the contents. As well as chickens, there were large rusty cages full of ducks. The cages took up every available space, with the sellers lounging on top of the cages because there was nowhere else for them to sit.
The More Exotic Products at Khlong Toei Market
We found some of the more weird and wonderful produce that Khlong Toei Market had to offer. There were huge trays filled with crickets and water beetles destined to become crispy deep fried snacks. We also found extremely placid live frogs tightly packed together in mesh bags. Some of the frogs were not so lucky and had already been flayed, their skins discarded in a messy pile nearby.
Khlong Toei Market is the biggest fresh produce market in Bangkok. It's packed into tiny lanes that run alongside one of the city's remaining canals, or khlongs. While they do have an extensive supply of fruit and veg, it's probably the less vegetarian-friendly products that are most interesting. Although next time perhaps wellies and a poncho would be more appropriate attire.
How To Get To Khlong Toei Market
Take the Blue Line on the MRT to either Khlong Toei station or Queen Sirikit National Convention Centre station. Khlong Toei Market is less than 1 kilometre walk from either station.
If you would rather not walk, take a taxi or tuk-tuk to Khlong Toei Market.