This may surprise you. Despite being married to a fashion designer (or, perhaps, because of it) I am not much of a shopper. Regardless, Bangkok is a fantastic city in which to shop. All the major international brands, unique local finds and everything in-between is here for you to discover. Below is a bit of an overview of the shopping scene along with some of my recommendations.
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Most of the shopping in Bangkok is located along the Sukhumvit BTS Skytrain line. The core area is the Ratchaprasong District, which stretches from National Stadium station through Siam station to Chidlom station.
- MBK is a massive mall featuring lots of cheap boutiques, knock-offs and hard-charging bargain hunting. It doesn’t appeal to me but is still wildly popular with people who seem to think that mobile phones are particularly inexpensive in Bangkok, which they aren’t. Adjacent to National Stadium station.
- Siam Discovery Center, located between National Stadium and Siam stations, has recently undergone a massive renovation and is a large lifestyle mall put together a bit like a department store (brands, shops and zones seem to merge together) with some quirky things to see.
- The next mall over is Siam Center, the original Bangkok mall, which has undergone probably a dozen make-overs since its debut in the early 1970s. Siam Center is known for its representation of hip and trendy Thai designers and there are brands here you will find no place else. Enter directly from Siam station.
- Adjacent to Siam Center and Siam station is Paragon, the crown jewel of Bangkok shopping. Situated where the historic (appeared in a James Bond movie) Intercontinental Hotel used to be, Paragon is packed to the gills with high-end shopping. The brands are almost all international and there is not much local representation.
- Siam Square, located on the south side of Siam station, is the original teenage hangout. Located next to Chulalongkorn University, it is crowded with students and there are some interesting stores in the sois (alleys) that line this area. Some parts have been redeveloped into indoor malls, which have lost some of the charm, but there is lots to see here.
- Follow the walkway from Siam station to Chidlom station and you reach Central World Plaza, a massive mall that combines a wide range of shops, international to local, with probably 100 or more eateries and a large cinema that features film festivals and other “artiste” films. Located closer to Chidlom station using the walkway.
- Across the Ratchaprasong intersection is Gaysorn, a more refined mall spread across two buildings. I’ll shamelessly mention that this is where you will find the boutique for TAWN C. Designs, the eponymous brand from my talented husband. Visit the third floor to find his exquisite women’s wear. You can access Gaysorn from the walkway that connects Chidlom station to Siam station.
- You can pass through Gaysorn and connect to a walkway that takes you north to the Platinum wholesale mall.
- A second shopping area is the EmDistrict at Phrom Phong station. Two malls, Emporium and EmQuartier, flank either side of the station. There is a wide range of shopping here and the outdoor space including the rooftop garden in EmQuartier is quite nice. The food courts in the basement of EmQuartier and the fourth floor of Emporium feature branches some of Bangkok’s best-known street food and long-established eateries. Pad Thai Aree in the EmQuartier food court is a favorite of mine.
- An additional mall I recommend is Terminal 21. Located adjacent to the Asok station, Terminal 21 is one of the more unique malls. It is designed roughly around an airport theme (which is ironic, as more and more airports are designed like malls), with each floor representing a different destination: Rome, Turkey, Japan, San Francisco, etc. It is a fun mall with a good mix of small local designers and larger brands. The food court on the top floor is a good value.
Chatuchak (Weekend) Market
This is paradise for bargain hunters. Every Saturday and Sunday, 9,000 individual booths are open selling an infinite variety of goods. It is just about impossible to go to Chatuchak Weekend Market and not buy anything. There is just about everything that bargain-hunters, homemakers, pet lovers or just browsers can imagine. A note of caution: the crowds and heat can be overwhelming. Pace yourself, take plenty of breaks and drink plenty of water, and always keep your purses, wallets, and backpacks in front of you. Web: http://www.chatuchak.org/
Directions: BTS Skytrain to Mochit Station and walk the short distance or, better, take MRTA to Kamphaeng Phet Station, where one of the exits actually pop up in the midst of the market.