the POSH guide
The best of Southeast Asia

Bangkok Shopping

We know there are many who think of Bangkok as a shopper's paradise. There are indeed some great bargains to be had, and there is certainly a lot to choose from, but we would be remiss if we didn't put in a word of caution: while there are bargains, many things, especially anything imported, is likely to be more expensive than elsewhere. Check prices of any planned major purchases at home before you leave.

Markets

Chatuchak Weekend Market
This massive market is only open on Saturday and Sunday. Here you'll find everything from pets and plants to clothes and antiques. The market is open-air, though mostly covered, and can be incredibly hot on even a mild day. The small twisting aisles make it easy to get lost but it's hard to go too far in any one direction before hitting the open center area with its clock tower, or the drive circling the market. The market is ostensibly organized into sections for clothing, pets, furniture, etc. but you'll find anything anywhere. The market is located towards the northern edge of the city center, roughly half way between the airport and the city center. Best way to get there is by subway to the Kampangphet station.
Garment District
This large rabbit-warren market sells mostly ready-to-wear clothes of the kind mass produced in Thailand. You can pick up clothes very cheaply here, but the styles are generally destined for Walmart. There are cloth and custom shops here as well.
Patpong Night Bazaar
It may seem odd for Bangkok's infamous red light district to be the site of a popular market, but, well, Thailand is full of such contradictions. Beginning around 7:00 p.m. every day, the sidewalks of Silom road as well as Patpong itself are filled with stalls selling clothing, trinkets, music and sundry other items. It can be quite crowded and there are of course a lot of touts on the prowl, so you need to be on your guard.

Specialty Items

Local Handicrafts
The biggest selection of Thai handicrafts can be found at Narayanaphand, located on Radjamri road across from the World Trade Center. President Tower, right around the corner from Narayanaphand, also has a number of shops selling local products.
Antiques
You'll find shops in all the major tourist areas, but the center is River City next to the Royal Orchid Sheraton. Note that 'antique' has no legal definition in Thailand, and the word is often applied to things that could well have been made yesterday, but are designed or made to look old. Thais do not value old things, so truly old items are most likely to be found in a junk shop.
Clothing
You'll find tailor shops in many hotels and shopping centers. For discount clothing, make your way to Pratunam market, within walking distance of the World Trade Center. Be sure to note our clothing sizes caution when purchasing ready-made items.
Computers and Technology
Panthip Plaza on Petchburi road, not far from the Pratunam garment district, and within a long walk from Central World shopping center. Somewhat more comfortable and easier to get to is Fortune Town on Ratchadapisek Road. The Rama IX subway station is right in front of the center. Note that electronics are generally not cheap in Thailand. If you're visiting Malaysia or Singapore, you'll almost certainly find better prices there.

Department Stores

Almost all major department stores are locally developed chains, even though they may have foreign sounding names. Japanese retailers once dominated the market, but now almost all of them have gone.

Central
Occupies the higher end of the market. The flagship store is the Chidlom branch on Ploenchit Road, which has access from the Chidlom Skytrain station.
Robinson
Staked out the middle market with more suburban locations.
The Mall
Despite its name, The Mall operates its own department stores, within larger malls that the company also owns and operates. The Mall's malls are all located in the suburbs of Bangkok, and generally cater to a lower middle class customer base.
Isetan
The last remaining Japanese retailer, located at one end of the World Trade Center.
Big C
Discount chain originated by France's Casino stores.
Lotus Tesco
Another 'superstore' owned by the UK supermarket chain.
Carrefour
The big French hypermarket competes with Tesco and Big C for the discount shopper.

Shopping Centers

Siam Paragon
Bangkok's newest - and most expensive - shopping center, Siam Paragon

 
There are a few shopping centers that may be worth a look for the tourist. Note that the first three occupy opposing corners of a major intersection and so can be visited in a single trip if you have the stamina.

Mahboonkrong (MBK) Center
The "grand -daddy" of Bangkok's shopping centers, it mostly has a market feel to it, with many small shops and sometimes very narrow aisles. You'll find one floor devoted almost entirely to mobile phones and accessories. Two others have clothes as well as bags while another is furniture.
Siam Square
Outdoor cluster of shophouses which is currently given over to independent clothing designers, music stores and other things of interest to the young crowd attracted to Siam Square.
Siam Center & Siam Discovery
Set side-by-side across Rama I Road from Siam Square, these two centers have several designer shops and restaurants. The construction site next door to Siam Center will be another shopping center, to be called Siam Paragon.
Siam Paragon
Opened in December 2005, Siam Paragon takes center stage, both literally and figuratively, in the heart of Bangkok's Shopping District. Most of the shops are decidedly high end, with names such as Armani, Chanel and Mazerati on hand, but there are enough distractions such as movies and Asia's largest aquarium to keep the place packed on weekends.
Central World
The old world Trade Center mall got a radical make-over in 2006 which about doubled it in size and dramatically opened up the once dim claustrophobic mall. Look for many of the same high-end brands as you'll find at Siam Paragon, with the addition of a Japanese department store and many more mid-priced restaurants. Across the busy street in front of Central World is Narayanaphand, a large center for the sale of Thai handicrafts.
The Emporium
High class center located on Sukhumvit Road at the Prompong Skytrain station. Very popular with foreign residents.
Central Plaza Ladprao
Shopping center anchored by a Central department store. Close to Chatuchak market, making it a good place to cool off after a hot day at the market.

Shopping Guide

If you need more "help" to find just the right thing, or at least where to look, then check out this tome from the recognized experts in shopping the world:

The Treasures and Pleasures of Thailand: Best of the Best (Impact Guides)
The Treasures and Pleasures of Thailand: Best of the Best (Impact Guides)

by Ronald Krannich

Cover Price: $16.95
Our Price: $12.66
Availability: Usually ships in 24 hours

Binding: Paperback
Publication Date: 2000-04-24 2 Edition
Publisher: Impact Publications

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