Enter the Mid Summer's Daydream of Bangkok - ChangChui
September 7, 2017
Native Fashion, Native Tourism
Bangkok’s best new concept market is open, and you’re invited.
Where else can you stumble over artists, musicians, and farming geniuses, all weaving together a marvelous cocktail of grilled sausages and som tom, popguns, and paradise, saxophones and sexy?
Oh, and there’s a stuffed cheetah wearing a pith helmet.
It’s more than a tourist attraction, more than a market, and more than an events space. So what is ChangChui?
Here’s my take:
ChangChui is like those ‘what-ifs’ dreamed up with your highschool friends: “Wouldn’t it be cool if we could…?”
We all know how those daydreams die out, but just imagine for a moment…
What if someone actually had the resources and raw creative skill to pull those marvelous, outrageous ideas off?
ChangChui is a little bit of madness, a little bit of magic. And it’s absolutely perfect.
NOTHING IS USELESS
“Nothing is useless” says General Manager Chanokporn “Som” Thinphangnga.
That’s more than empty words at ChangChui — it’s a philosophy they’ve put into practice. The man behind this massive creation is Somchai Songwattana. Somchai, CEO of Flynow is one of the iconic pioneers of Thailand’s fashion industry. He bought this plot of land many years back and decided to make his dream into reality — a common space where creativity between different generations could combine and concoct into one massive art.
Like an expert bartender that knows how to surprise and delight with exotic blends, Khun Somchai and his team have shaken together 11 rai of former scrubland, thousands of kilos of recycled metal, and a little bit of creative magic to craft one of the most enticing cocktails of culture Bangkok has seen in years.
How ChangChui greets you will depend on which gate you arrive from. You might wander in from the west side, to be hailed by a giant fortunetelling skatergirl. Or you might be received by a cockeyed helicopter, looking perilously drunk, sliding off the roof of a biker bar into a pile of unused bombs.
Whichever way you get in, the spirit of ChangChui is sure to capture you.
More than just a market
ChangChui offers something that virtually nowhere else does — the opportunity to feel like more than a consumer.
Sure, there’s plenty of places to spend, whether it’s the ultra-primo tea lounge, the many boutiques, or the gallery stocked with original works by Thai painters….
But ChangChui is also designed to reward wandering.
Unlike the malls and outdoor markets that blanket Bangkok’s open space, this place has wandering built into it’s DNA. Every corner you turn has a new reward to discover, whether it’s a workshop teaching you how to dye your own indigo cloth or a “tree doctor” offering free consultations for your gardening woes.
What’s more, there’s room to breathe!
Parkin “Petch” Vatanajyankur, who is part of the marketing team, was kind enough to show us around ChangChui. He shared that open space is a killer feature of ChangChui that festivals get right and malls get wrong.
Rather than hurting their income by renting out fewer stalls to vendors, the ChangChui design team have encouraged you to wind your way between the zinc and glass buildings, have a bite in the aircon, or relax outside and enjoy a lemonade on what I like to call “The Endless Patio”.
And yet, even after getting the grand tour, we’d barely uncovered half the place!
What’s that name?
ChangChui, roughly translates to “Sloppy Craftsman”.
And just like the bumbling comedian you’ve asked to come fix your leaky pipes, the park serves up a creaky, oldworld charm.
Reused materials, quirky accents, and a mischievous spirit pervade the place. It’s not gleaming acrylic stone, but recycled zinc and chicken wire, film reels and rusty steel beams.
And yet where it counts — they’ve spared no details.
Events @ ChangChui
Rather than just clearing a plot of land and popping in the best vendors they can lasso in, the staff at ChangChui have taken the extra steps to ensure that ChangChui is worth coming back to. The dedication and heart that goes into the place cannot be understated. Every visit will be different, with a packed schedule of ongoing events.
Farmer’s market – workshops on indigo dye, weaving, and arboriculture.
We visited during the Chor Cher Farm & Folk Market which meant the popup vendors had some awesome offerings like beautiful Chiang Rai grilled sausages (spicy!) and freshly toasted banana chips (waaay better than store bought).
The masterminds behind Thai Young Farmers also showed up — a group of 10 farmers in their 30s that left their jobs as engineers and artists and went back to the land, bringing their knowledge and skills to the task of providing food to people in a healthy and positive way. They shared with us a little bit about modern sustainable agriculture, and the hazards and rewards of earthworm farming. We will definitely pay them a visit for the next article.
Most days you can catch a film in the cool and dark theater. A rotating selection of documentaries you’d never otherwise see keep it lively, and the open space means you can sit in the classic theater chairs, or chill on the floor in a pile of pillows. Shows are at 16:00 and 22:00 for 100 baht per person.
(Protip, come here to relax in the heat of the day!)
Hot bands, cool licks.
ChangChui stocks excellent bands playing in every corner of the park.
We saw some downhome classic covers with a lovely female vocalist and electric saxophone, a French horn quartet, a father and 5-year-old-son duo shredding on the drums, and a funky, smoky ska band called “Some Dude’s Sunglasses”.
Heck, even the radio playing when we arrived was some pretty hot jazz, perfect for relaxing in the shade of the plane’s wing.
Any must-go place has to answer: “How envious will my friends be when they see me there?”
At ChangChui the answer is… VERY.
Whether you’re hopping on the back of a classic Harley Davidson, making peace signs with a giant mist-blasting skull, or just hanging out under the plant-graced archway, your friends will wonder why they missed out.
The vendors at the food court aren’t just some random massaman curry sellers, these are notoriously delicious vendors who’ve been invited to open up their second branch here, making the food court not only affordable, but one of the most delicious places to grab a bite (in a place stacked with spots to eat).
You’ve also got completely unique fare, like an upcoming insects-only dining lodge where all the protein comes from 6- and 8-legged critters. You might also enjoy the sultry evening lounge — a cavernous building covered in red cellophane to give your late night seductions an otherworldly feel.
Fancy yourself a drone pilot? Learn how to fly at Bangkok’s one-and-only drone school SKY. 5000 baht gets you a day’s beginner instruction, and further courses will teach you how to get hot aerial shots for your next youtube video.
Or if you’re more of an old-school shutterbug, a real life darkroom lets you shoot and develop your own film.
ChangChui has stuff for the kids too — try teaching them the fine art of shooting the heads off of spacefaring stuffed animals at the TAM:DA PLAY arcade.
It truly feels like being part of a grand carnival, where the ringmaster is ushering you along into a alternate dimension where the sun never sets, the tunes are hot, and every lemonade is served ice-cold.
It’s a cliche to say that you have something for everyone, yet ChangChui manages to pull it off. Kids, Adults, and Seniors all have plenty to do here, whether it’s enjoying a relaxing afternoon outdoors with the family, taking a date out for some ice cream, or just cooling your heels to the endless night sounds.
Size: 11 rai
Monday – Sunday
11.00 – 21.00 Green Zone
16.00 – 23.00 Night Zone
Closes on Wednesday
Note: Most of the shops opened only from 4pm onwards. We advise you to arrive in the late afternoon to get the best out of Changchui.
If you’ve got a car or motorbike, just head up to the northwest of Bangkok’s Thonburi district.
You can also take the BTS to Bang Wa station. From there it’s a short 10 minute taxi to ChangChui.