Best Flower Market
Some orchids give off the scent of tangerine honey or milk chocolate. Others emanate the less alluring odor of rotting flesh. There's even one species that mimics the pheromones of the female bumblebee. To sniff out these and hundreds of other orchid varieties and even check out some that have no scent at all head to Bangkok's Chatuchak market, which on Wednesdays and Thursdays turns into one of the largest extravaganzas of flora in the world.
On weekends, Chatuchak is known for its vast tourist bazaar, where sunburned visitors stock up on cheap clothes and souvenirs. But midweek, the outdoor market takes on a different hue and smell as hundreds of plant sellers descend from all over Thailand. Orchids aren't the only plants on offer at Chatuchak. You can find pomegranate trees, giant ferns and armfuls of Spanish moss. But the orchids 1,100 species of which are indigenous to Thailand are the stars of the market. Stall owners, each armed with a dog-eared copy of an orchid encyclopedia, call out to passersby, extolling the virtues of each variety. Some types, with their flashy cascades of flowers, are easy to shift. Others will only bloom in the months to come, and must rely on the salesmanship of the vendor, who points to pictures in orchid books and promises that, with good care, the colorful sprays depicted will one day be yours.
If you're interested in buying, brush up on your Latin. Most orchid sellers expect that you, too, know the difference between a dendrobium and an oncidium. Like with most markets, it pays to go early in the morning when the choice is greatest and when many orchids are at their most fragrant. And if you lose your way in the vast confines of Chatuchak, don't worry. Just follow the male bumblebees being lured, irresistibly, to the orchid section.
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