Sampeng Lane Market (or just Sampeng) is probably the best place in Bangkok to buy inexpensive jewelry and all sorts of knick-knack. Despite the name, the market is located down a narrow street with the official name Soi Wanit 1 in Chinatown.
Even though Sampeng is getting increasingly popular among tourists, the market is still primarily a wholesale market catering to smaller vendors and shops around the city. I’ve seen many of the items available at the market being sold in other areas of Bangkok for more than double the price.
Because of the wholesale nature of the place, most shops require that you buy a minimum number of items. For the shoe shops, it’s usually 6 pairs and sometimes, they will not let you mix sizes or designs, which makes shoe shopping difficult unless you brought 5 friends with the same taste and shoe size as you.
In the jewelry shops the minimum purchase is typically 10 pieces, and they will allow you to pick and mix, as you like, but if you buy less than 10 pieces, you usually pay a higher price per item. You can find earrings for as little as 10THB, but stationery, socks and hairpins are also really cheap.
Please observe that Sampeng is not a place to haggle. Prices are fixed, and you can only expect a discount if you buy a lot of items.
Some of the stores accept credit cards for larger purchases, but the smaller vendors only take cash.
Sampeng gets really crowded so remember to look after your stuff, as there are pickpockets around.
It gets really hot and humid down the narrow alleys, but there are several stalls selling chilled drinks and fresh juice along the way.
The easiest way to get to Sampeng is by boat. Get off at Rachawong (N5) and walk 250m up Ratchawong Road until you see Soi Wanit on your right hand side.
There are no Skytrain stations near Chinatown, but you can take the metro to the new Hua Lamphong station. The walk from Hua Lamphong to Sampeng is quite long, and you’ll have to cross a couple of very busy streets.
The market is not confined to Soi Wanit 1 but spills over to most of the surrounding alleys too and includes most of the area between Yaowarat Road and Soi Wanit 1