Marketing Bangkok

I will be heading home to Bangkok for my summer break after the month of Ramadan, and as usual, I will be up bright and early on the first Sunday to visit one of the most popular tourist attractions in Thailand, the legendary Chatuchak open-air market, which draws more than 100,000 tourists and locals every weekend to browse, shop, eat, drink and admire exquisite Asian art and antiques in this sprawling mini-city of hawkers, vendors and artists. 

One of the many Chatuchak market alleys
One of the many Chatuchak market alleys

Personally, I love visiting the Asian art and antiques shops while my wife takes in the sights and smells of the orchid market, which sells some of the most exotic species of orchids and flowers one can ever hope to see and smell in Asia, while my kids inevitably wander off to see the cute puppies and the tropical fish.

It is during such visits that I fondly recall my time spent managing the operations of one of Bangkok’s busiest hotels several years ago, from where my Thai wife and I would lead groups of adventurous guests from the hotel every Sunday morning to enjoy what has long been acknowledged as the world’s most exciting “marketing” experience.

The morning’s activities began with a special early-morning complimentary foot massage at the hotel spa followed by a Thai style breakfast, at which time I would explain the itinerary and check everyone had suitable light clothing, a water bottle, sufficient cash for the expedition, a cell phone and a camera.

Colors of Chatuchak
Colors of Chatuchak

The group then enjoyed a short walk to the nearby underground metro station, which quickly transported us in ice-cold comfort to Chatuchak Market for the shopping experience of a lifetime.

Upon arrival at the market, we would split the groups into two packs and head off to the exotic animals and birds sections, the fish pools brimming with hundreds of varieties of tropical species, the snake and reptile house, the dog kennels, the amazing Thai orchid market, the Asian and Thai antiques section, the local furniture shops, the hundreds of inexpensive clothing and footwear stalls and the old books shops, finishing up at the young contemporary artists gallery, many of whom I supported over the years by purchasing their works for hotels around the world looking for large art pieces for their lobbies, restaurants and public areas. 

Once both groups were eventually reunited, we would then embark upon on an amazing “Thai culinary adventure tour” of the market, stopping off at several off the most famous noodle and curry shops, where many traditional Thai delicacies were sampled by our hungry shoppers.

Tom yum goong
Tom yum goong

The culinary tour included deep-fried locusts, ants eggs, barbecue pork and sticky rice, tom yum goong, freshly steamed river prawns with green chili sauce, and a fiery som tam salad prepared with live drunken baby crabs and the hottest chilies to be found anywhere in Thailand, all washed down with large helpings of ice shavings with syrup, sweet lod chong, freshly cracked coconut juice or freshly made rambutan, guava or jackfruit ice cream. We also insisted that everyone sampled the durian ice cream when the world’s smelliest fruit was in season.

There was no charge for the tours; everyone paid for their own subway tickets and for their food and refreshments. All that we asked from our groups, which often numbered at least 20 to 30, was that everyone stayed together and that everyone enjoyed what must surely be one of the greatest “marketing” experiences on the planet.

How do you go the extra mile to “market” your hotel and local attractions to your guests?