Shopping In Bangkok: Urban Experience Extraordinaire
Different people have different approaches to shopping in Bangkok. Some shop for pleasure, some out of necessity, some out of curiosity and some shop just to fill a rainy day. Bangkok shopping can take you on that dangerous road of no return, when you can ‘shop until you drop’. So be warned and prepare accordingly. Maybe one way of doing that is by looking through the posts on this website, to get an idea of what you want, and where you want to go to buy it. Bangkok, a city of 9 million, can deliver when it comes to shopping. Just as every other metropolis, it can be the consumers’ paradise, and it caters for different tastes, styles and budgets. Shopping in Bangkok is a pass-time many first time visitors have heard so much about. They now want to try it out for themselves, so they can boast about the bargains they’ve found on the streets of the capital. Let’s enter the world of Bangkok shopping.
First stop are the Bangkok shopping centres. They will blow your mind with their size, luxury and the amount of famous brands (genuine and fake) they sell. You can without difficulty forget where you are, as you get virtually transported to shopping hubs of London, Paris and New York.
MBK Shopping Centre is Bangkok’s most legendary shopping mall and is less pricey than its flashier neighbours in Siam Square. Take the Skytrain to the National Stadium station and head for the Pathumwan Intersection. This eight-storey giant houses around 2000 shops that sell everything from clothes and hand bags to electric appliances, luggage and furniture to DVDs. A lot of the products on sell are copies, which significantly contributes to the low prices. MBK Shopping Centre is well known for its electronic goods and mobile phones section. To the relief of many, the clothes they sell are suitable for the bigger Western frame. Within MBK is the popular Japanese department store Tokyu, which offers children’s, women’s and men’s wear, cosmetics and household goods.
For the neighbouring trio of Siam Paragon, Siam Center and Siam Discovery, take the Skytrain to Siam station. Siam Paragon is the glitziest of all. It offers high-end international fashion brands and could be the perfect location if you are looking for something fancy or have a lot of money to splash on clothes and fashion accessories – Prada, Versace, Rolex and the likes. Linked to Siam Paragon by a covered walkway is Siam Center, which attracts costumers feeling young and hip. Next door to Siam Center is Siam Discovery, which offers a carefully laid-out shopping experience for families and other city-dwellers. Each floor has a theme and they range from fashion and beauty to sports, outdoor gear and gadgets.
You can extend your visit to Siam Square by including other shops, boutiques and market stalls into your shopping itinerary. These can be found in abundance in this area of Bangkok. Between Soi 9 and Soi 10 is Siam Vintage, which promised a lot in terms of Bangkok originality, but is now mostly empty as its popularity never took off. The boutiques there offer retro and stylish items, and for second-hand enthusiasts there is also the Again and Again store, which has another branch in Thong Lor.
The second stop on the Bangkok shopping journey has to be the markets. Chatuchak weekend market is where 200,000 people each weekend decide is the place to be. Its grandiosity and popularity might require a plan to be able to squeeze in everything you want. You name it, it’s on sale here. Though not always at the best prices. This market makes not only for a good shopping experience, but is also one of Bangkok’s must-see places. Despite its name, the market is open on Friday evenings too, and the plant section on Wednesdays and Thursdays. The best way to reach it is to take the Skytrain to Mo Chit station, or the metro to Chatuchak Park station.
If you want to do your Bangkok shopping in a less touristy and crowded atmosphere, you can head for the slightly hidden Rod Fai Market, located behind Seacon Square on Srinakarin Soi 51, best reached by taxi. You’ll be able to find all sorts of souvenirs, collectables, antique furniture and fashionable items at this open-air bazaar.
And if you like finishing off your day with a bit of strolling and shopping, then discover Bangkok’s night markets. The most popular spot for shopping in Bangkok after dark is Patpong Night Market in Silom. This is a place to shop if you are not too worried about the originality of the things on sale. It’s always busy due to its proximity to the night life district and the go-go bars. Another option to experience Bangkok’s night markets is to take the Skytrain to Saphan Taksin station and then jump on the free boat shuttle to check out Asiatique’s night bazaar, open from 5 PM (boats run until 11 PM daily). Here you can indulge in riverfront shopping, and an evening can easily be spent browsing boutiques and stalls. If arriving by boat, walk the 300-metre boardwalk, which is a romantic experience in itself, especially after sunset.
The last stop on this virtual tour of Bangkok shopping is Pratunam market, where you can buy a variety of goods at wholesale prices. No trying on or exchanging the purchased items is allowed. If you are not completely exhausted by now, you can head across the road to Baiyoke Tower I, where the shopping spree can continue. Or you can use the building for some refreshing air-conditioned respite from the city heat.
Enjoy your shopping day in Bangkok. And don’t forget the usual tips of: hydrate, bargain, and keep your sense of humour.