BANGKOK: Tourists heading to one of Bangkok's most popular shopping destinations, the Chatuchak market, could do away with cash payments by June, as part of several upgrades that will be made available later this year.
The Bangkok Post on Friday (Jan 26) reported that the State Railway of Thailand (SRT), which manages Chatuchak, aims to begin turning the weekend market into a cashless commercial area by June.
Shoppers will pay for items through using a single card for their purchases or by QR code, said the SRT's director for land development Siripong Preutthipan.
Occupying an area of nearly 11ha in the city's north end, Chatuchak is said to be one of the world's largest weekend markets with more than 1,000 stalls divided into 27 sections selling everything from plants to antiques, clothes, books, food, home products and pets.
Thousands of shoppers head to the market every Saturday and Sunday and the market is a main draw for tourists to the city.
The SRT will spend more than 100 million baht (RM12mil) on developing the market this year, Dr Siripong said.
First on the agenda, are automated parking lots which will be available by the end of the year, he said.
Costing around cost around 40 million baht (RM4mil) to build, each lot will accommodate 100 cars.
"The systems will comprise automated ticket dispensaries given out to vehicles as they enter," he was quoted saying by the Bangkok Post.
"Bidding for construction will begin mid-year, with the aim of making parking spaces available by year's end."
In addition to the two new upgrades, the SRT has also launched the Chatuchak Guide mobile app, a virtual directory that lists the stalls according to their category and ratings, making it easier for shoppers to navigate the market.
In the future, Dr Siripong said the SRT hopes to be able to allow its retailers to export their products abroad.
The market will also have air-conditioned lavatories around the market later this year, with patrons paying 10 baht (RM1.20) to use the facilities. The SRT is currently negotiating with private firms for the construction rights for the lavatories.
Presently, the market has eight non-air conditioned lavatories, with patrons being charged 2 baht (RM0.25) for their usage. The lavatories will also see a 25-million-baht (RM3mil) upgrade, after which patrons will be charged 5 baht (RM0.62) for the facilities. The bidding for the project will take place in March. - The Straits Times/Asia News Network