The variety of shopping experiences in Bangkok goes far beyond a stroll in a mall or a morning spent browsing a market. Shopping in Bangkok is a day-and-night activity that runs parallel with the best in the West, while also giving a flavour of the cultural uniqueness of the East. Work your way through these ten entirely different experiences, and you’ll soon come to realize why Bangkok is such a famous shopping hub.
1, Bangkok Shopping Malls
In a city blessed with some of the world’s most sumptuous malls, how do you choose? Do you want bargains galore? Go to MBK. After the biggest and most trendy? CentralWorld is your ticket. How about classy? Make your way to The Emporium. Of course, if glamour makes you go wobbly at the knees, you will already have found Siam Paragon – the epitome of high-class Bangkok.
2, Chatuchak Market
The market of all markets, Chatuchak Weekend Market is the ultimate. You will be amazed by its sprawling size, but perhaps even more so by the unbelievable variety of wares. Stumble across anything from vinyl records, beads, suits of armor to a live seahorse! Haggling is encouraged – just do so politely. Possibly the most exhilarating, chaotic and lively shopping experience that can be had anywhere in the world.
3, Asiatique the Riverfront
Asiatique has successfully combined two of the most popular shopping experiences in the city: a night bazaar and a mall. Ten minutes downriver from Saphan Taksin BTS station this once-bustling international trade port has been transformed, with over 1,500 boutiques and 40 restaurants housed under a huge replica warehouse complex.
4, Siam Square
Siam Square, like the city in which it is located, is an area of contrast. In essence it is the hub of all things cool, an individual expression point where styles are both shaped and surface (and resurface). Siam also holds claim to being the most expensive place to rent land in Bangkok. It is to the City of Angels, what Bond Street is to London and Fifth Avenue to New York.
5, After-Dark Shopping
In most cities nighttime means closing time. Not so, here in Bangkok. Come dusk, Khao San Road teems with unkempt travel wear. And Patpong Market’s tarpaulin covered stalls – each brimming with counterfeits or exotica – don’t even kick into life until the area’s office workers are tucked up in bed. Just two examples, among several, of Bangkok’s love affair with the after-dark shop.
6, Pantip Plaza – Computer Shopping Mall
An aspiring techno-geek? Then Pantip Plaza is your heaven on earth. Looking for a new mobile, notebook or the latest gadget? That’s right, Pantip. Packed from floor to ceiling with stalls and shops selling all kinds of computer, electronic paraphernalia and even hard-to-find camera lenses, make sure to allow enough time to explore this bustling indoor IT mall.
Pratunam is well-known among locals as the wholesale fashion district, where street ware meets odd fashion meets tomorrow’s trends. Shopping here is fun because there’s a whole gamut of accessories to dress you up from head to toe – at a bargain. The original wholesale market is outdoors, around Indra Hotel and Baiyoke Sky Hotel, while the air-conditioned malls are located across the main street.
8, Chinatown Market
There is something oddly kitsch, charming and nostalgic about Bangkok’s Chinatown. Walking through the many little streets you might find yourself in a market, a shophouse-lined backstreet or a crowded space jam-packed with hawkers of every ilk. Along with many gold shops, you’ll also find sacks of roasted chestnuts, sequins, feather boas, eccentric virility boosters and martial art weapons.
9, Or Tor Kor Food Market
Ranked the 4th best fresh market in the world by a famous travel guide, Or Tor Kor is so much more than a local market. Products displayed here are selected among the best found in the entire country. With such an incredible range of beautiful fruits, extremely fresh vegetables, meats and seafood, Or Tor Kor should be on the list of Must-See of any chef or budding Gordon Ramsey, and it’s just next to Chatuchak!
10, Bangkok Flower Market
Among the many fresh produce markets in Bangkok, the jewel without a doubt is the Pak Khlong Talad Flower Market. The colours, fragrances of jasmine and the sight of garland weavers busily at work makes for a dazzling sensory experience. Prepare yourself for a really late-night experience, but one worth staying up for.