Bangkok is far from being a perfect city, but it sure has its strong points. This Bangkok shopping guide is about to show you why this place is one of the best shopping cities in the entire world. Go ahead and shop until you drop.
Contrarily to the idyllic islands in the South or charming villages in the North of the country, Bangkok displays a vibrant culture but it’s not a beautiful city by any means.
In fact, what may linger in your memory after your visit to Bangkok might very well be… the shopping experience! You can find virtually anything here. Whether it is on the fanciest shopping malls, massive electronic stores or frugal street markets, spending money here is an easy task. And this guide will to help you spend money!
Originally named Mahbookkrong, MBK is one of Asia’s oldest shopping malls. It opened in 1995 and since then it has become of the most well-known in Thailand.
Imagine a HUGE maze of tiny little stalls selling all sorts of tiny little electronics, accessories, bags, clothes and jewelry. Everything haggled at laughable prices.
Bottom line is: you won’t find Zara or Mango in here. MBK is packed with small independent shops, mostly Thai brands and designs and is very popular with the younger crowds. This was definitely the most packed of all shopping spots I have been and trust me, the teenage Thai shopping frenzy can be exhausting!
2: Central World
Opened in 2006, it still is the largest mall in Thailand and one of the largest shopping complexes in the world (sixth, actually!). Central World consists of 8 floors, each with its own theme. For instance, women clothes can be found on the 2nd floor, Men clothing on 3rd floor and electronics on the 4th.
It’s no understatement to say you can find a lot of things in here. There’s even an ice rink in here – an indoor version which I’ve only seen before during my stay in Dubai.
Regarding clothing, there is a great variety of luxury brands mixed with other more affordable and non-branded clothes. Despite the impressive quantity, it’s definitely not the cheapest place to buy clothes in Bangkok.
Everything is very organised, you will even have to pass through security to get inside, clean and with decent air conditioning, which can be a life saver. Not very different to any mall in Europe or US which is both of a positive and negative thing.
Central World is also the heart of the New Year party in Bangkok. The biggest fire show of the city happens right in front!
3: Siam Paragon
With over 250 shops, Siam Paragon is another very popular shopping mall in Bangkok. Displaying the top-notch high-end fashion brands, it is mainly targeted to luxury shoppers with cash to splurge. Flagship stores of designer brands like Versace, Louis Vuitton and Burberry can be found here. This is where high fashion comes into play!
The mall also has the largest aquarium in Southeast Asia and a huge cinema complex with 16 screens.
As you might imagine, this is much more clinical than the average atmosphere of Bangkok and of the whole Thailand for that matter. If you are looking for the true essence of Thailand shopping, it’s definitely not here that you’ll be finding it but definitely worth visiting
4: Pantip Plaza
Pantip Plaza is a huge IT mall right in the center of Bangkok and is the place to go to feed all your primal software and hardware needs.
Monitors, laptops, projectors, printers, hooverboards, cables, software, external batteries, mp3 players all together scattered amongst hundreds of shops under the same roof.
Except for the touts selling “sexy DVDs” on the second floor, all the shops seemed quite similar in this place. My way of finding the best vendors was to notice where locals are shopping more. You can get away with a great deal, but be prepared to be a tough negotiator!
5: Chatuchak Market
With over 15,000 booths and stalls, Chatuchak Market is one of the biggest markets in the world. Happening every Saturday and Sunday, it attracts both shopping craving tourists and local Thais.
The market is divided into 27 huge sections. You can find the most varied things such as souvenirs, independently design clothes, live animals and wood carving items in well signalised corridors and stalls.
I found this place to be big. Not big. I mean, HUGE. You’ll need lots of time and patience. Despite the good will and organisation, it’s very difficult to find the correct section you’re heading while managing the crowds. After all, 200,000 people come here on the weekends!
Having that said, it’s a GREAT place for shopping souvenirs, clothes and other typical Thai items. It’s impossible to leave this place empty-handed!