Sampeng Lane at Soi Wanit 1 is Bangkok’s famous wholesale market where you can find inexpensive clothing, costumes, textiles, sewing supplies, hair accessories, plush and plastic toys, bags, stationery and a whole lot more. For many parents, it’s a great place to source craft supplies, such as glitter, pom-poms, ribbons, stickers and sensory bin items, as well as a variety of trinkets for class holiday gifts or birthday party favour bags, including the paper/plastic bags themselves!
Open 7 days a week, from roughly 9am to 5pm, the narrow lane houses numerous shops, under a curved roof in some sections. Its side alleys and streets also feature lots of small shops and stalls. The market is ideal for those buying in bulk, and some stores will only sell multiple items.
Parking is scarce and you won’t want to bother finding a spot in this densely populated part of town. The easiest way to get to Sampeng is via the Chao Phraya Express Boat (N5 Ratchawongse or N6 Memorial Bridge/Saphan Phut) from Sathorn Pier, off Saphan Taksin BTS station. Get off at Rajchawongse Pier and walk straight on Ratchawongse Road for about 300 metres to get to the market. You can also travel via the mass transit systems; go to Hualumphong (MRT) or Wong Wian Yai (BTS) and take a short taxi ride to Sampheng.
Where to Begin
Running parallel to Yaowarat Road in Chinatown, the long stretch of Sampeng intersects with several major roads, including Chakrapet Road, Trok Hua Met, Rajchawongse (also spelled ‘Ratchawong’) Road and Mangkorn Road. You can start at any intersection but be aware that you’ll have to back track, depending on where you start, if you want to cover more of the market.
Chakrapet is where Sampeng begins; it’s in the Pahurat (“Little India”) area, not far from the Old Siam Plaza, a shopping complex with jewellery stores, fabric stores, clothing stalls and fast food restaurants. There are lots of textiles, saris, Indian accessories, wedding souvenirs and Thai costume shops on this end.
Ratchawongse, which is just down the street from the Grand China Hotel Bangkok, bisects the middle of Sampeng, more or less. It can be identified by the Kikuya fabric store on the main road, which is also on Soi Wanit 1 (Sampeng Lane). You can walk across the road from Kikuya or stay on the same side.
Shops are numbered, but they are not grouped in any sort of order in terms of what they sell. The fabric stores and haberdasheries are more concentrated from Chakrapet to Ratchawongse, but there are also lots of shops selling toys, craft supplies, seasonal holiday (Halloween, Xmas, Chinese New Year, etc.) décor and random knick knacks.
Goods are already at bargain prices so it is unlikely that haggling will work. Buy in bulk (usually 3 items and up) to get the wholesale price.
Some buildings in Sampeng Lane provide bathrooms for public use (ask sellers for the nearest one), often for a small fee. The main intersecting roads all have ATM machines (Ratchawongse in particular houses branches of all major banks), as well as convenience stores.
Motorcycles and pushcarts sometimes squeeze in and out of the narrow alleys. It’s a good idea to visit without babies and small children, for their safety. Also, watch out for pickpockets. On the whole, Sampeng is messy and crowded, especially on weekends and holidays — but for intrepid shoppers and bargain hunters, it can be lots of fun!