When I went on a trip to Bangkok 4 years ago, a friend mentioned that this bustling city in Thailand is considered as the shopping capital of Southeast Asia. It was my first out of the country trip and I didn’t have a clue what to expect from this city. However, the minute I started exploring Bangkok, I realized that there might be some truth to her words for I discovered that aside from the country’s rich cultural heritage and delectable cuisines, cheap shopping malls in Bangkok with their night market counterparts are spread all throughout the city. Bangkok is every shopaholics dream paradise.
What to Shop in Bangkok
When you travel to Bangkok, be sure to bring extra money since you might not resist the temptation from your fabulous finds during your excursion in one of the busiest cities in the world. If you are great chefs or chef-wannabes, Thai spices are among the best items you could bring home.
Do you love clothes? Bangkok is the best place to shop for different varieties of apparel. There are tailored suits available for men and women. Then there are trendy clothes for the hip and fashion conscious. There are even custom-made shirts and jeans, which you can utilize to start up your own clothing business. Want clothing and fashion accessories? Belts, hosieries, undergarments, necklaces, earrings, head wares, bags, sun glasses – just name it! You’ll see numerous shopping places in Bangkok, Thailand that offers all of them.
How about home furniture and home accessories? Bangkok has them too! From wall decors, lamps, plush carpets, pillows, curtains, ceramics, collectibles, even antiques and whatever you can think of – there are always great places for shopping in Bangkok.
Shopping centers in Bangkok also give you the opportunity to shop hard to find items and some weird ones too. What’s amazing is that you can get those items at dirt cheap prices but you might also spend lavishly on expensive finds.
Where to stay in Bangkok for Shopping
The city of Bangkok offers different types of accommodations. If you want to know where to stay in Bangkok for shopping, you can book for cheap accommodations at guesthouses or hostels. Don’t expect too much as you’ll just get your money’s worth. But if you don’t mind splurging for comfort and style, there are 4 or 5-star hotels all over the city.
Travellers or those who prefer to visit the beautiful temples of Bangkok would normally choose to stay at Khao San Road or Soi Rambuttri. But if your main purpose to visit Bangkok is to shop till you drop, I would suggest you look for guest houses or hotels near the Pratunam market. If you have a map of Bangkok with you, stay near the BTS stations especially the Siam to Chit Lom station and Nana to Asok station. That’s where the big malls are.
Where to Shop in Bangkok
There are many famous shopping malls in Bangkok. Here are a couple that stands out due to their strategic locations along with their fame among local and foreign shoppers.
One of the things I love in this city is the presence of huge shopping malls in Bangkok. You can find these malls at the heart of the metropolis. A sky train (BTS) conveniently sits beside most of them for ease of access among shoppers.
The MBK Shopping Mall in Bangkok is one of those malls where you can find cheap Bangkok deals. If you are riding the BTS, you have to get off at the Siam station and cross the skywalk to reach the place.
This is also the mall to visit for all your gadget needs. They have a whole floor dedicated for phones, phone accessories and other gadgets.
Across the street are the famous Siam malls – the Siam Discovery Center, the Siam Center and the Siam Paragon, which is home to Siam Ocean World – the largest aquarium in Southeast Asia. Those malls also houses both local and international brands.
A few walks will lead you to Central World. Across it, you’ll see more malls. A few blocks away would lead you to the the newest mall in Bangkok, Terminal 21. And if you walk a little further when you make a right turn going to Central World, you’ll reach one of the best places to shop in Bangkok, the Platinum Fashion Mall.
The Platinum Fashion Mall is a delight for shopping aficionados. The mall sells all sorts of clothing apparel which are locally made. The best thing is that the clothes sold at Platinum Fashion Mall are very affordable and of good quality. You can find the latest trend in fashion there.
For the business minded Thais, they always go to the Pratunam Market to buy the cheapest clothes. Pratunam have counterparts to the apparels sold inside the Platinum Fashion Mall. If you want to save 10-30 baht on your purchase, without minding the heat, you can always head over to Pratunam Market instead. It’s just across the Platinum Fashion Mall.
For all those tech geeks, you will fall in love with Pantip Plaza. It’s dubbed as the IT City of Bangkok, just 2 buildings away from the Platinum Fashion Mall. You will find different shops selling brand new and second hand computers. They also sell computer hardware and software accessories. There are inks, printers, printer papers, mouse, mouse pad, flash drives, memory cards, cameras, monitors, and more. Anything you can think of that is related to computers is available at Pantip Plaza, even counterfeit software.
One shopping district in Bangkok that is famous among the locals is Chinatown. On most occasions, only Thais frequent this place but you can also run into a few tourists in the area. Chinatown has the cheapest goods in the city. A friend even mentioned that the items sold at Chinatown are way cheaper compared to the items sold at the Pratunam Market. There are also food shops in the area where you can savor the convergence of Thai and Chinese cuisines.
For those who are working non-stop on weekdays, weekend markets are made available. The Chatuchak weekend market, also known as Jatujak weekend market, is the biggest shopping centre in Bangkok. It sits on roughly 35 acres of land. It’s Thailand’s biggest flee market with over 8,000 booths selling assorted items. Stalls are divided into sections and each sections branch out to sois. First-timers might have a hard time navigating this huge weekend market in Bangkok but nothing to worry as there’s a Cha tu chak market map available to guide you.
The Chatuchak Weekend market is only open on Saturdays and Sundays. It is said that this famous shopping district in Bangkok receives an average of 200,000 visitors each day. Among the things you can find here are new and used clothing, accessories, handicrafts, ceramics, furniture and home decors, books, plants and gardening tools; and antiques and collectibles. There’s also a pet shop in the area. An entire day may not be enough to cover your shopping spree inside Chatuchak. Once you get tired, you can rest at food shops within the market. If you can’t stand the heat, you can hop in at the JJ Mall, which is located beside the flea market. You can also head over to the Chatuchak Park to stretch out those tired feet.
If you want to experience a different way of shopping in Bangkok, you can visit the floating markets in and outside the city. You will witness Thai’s traditional way of trading items at the river banks.
Many tourists visit the floating market for that one-of-a-kind market shopping experience. At times, the prices of the goods sold there can be a rip off for the tourists but you can always haggle. For a fee, one can ride those boats and get a tour around the area.
If you have no time to shop during the day, you have nothing to worry. Once darkness envelopes the skies of Bangkok, street walkways and alleyways transform into a lively shopping district. You will become witness to Thai’s entrepreneurial skills as they start setting up their stalls and start selling different products, which include food, clothing, home decors; and clothing, pet, fashion and gadget accessories.
One of the famous night markets are the ones you will find in Khao San Road. However, you will also see a couple of them spread all throughout the city. Some of these Bangkok night shopping markets last all night long. So if you are pressed with time on your trip to Bangkok, you won’t go home empty handed for you will surely find affordable things to buy no matter what time of day it is.
Tips on Getting the Best Bangkok Shopping Experience
- Thais love to shop since they love to dress up. You will always see the latest fashion trend in Bangkok. Thais also love to wear layered clothing so expect some of the clothes to be dainty.
- Haggling is not bad but normally you can get discounts when you buy wholesale.
- When you buy a minimum of 3 items from a store, that’s already considered wholesale.
- When you decide to shop in Bangkok, be sure to buy one of those trolleys made from plastic sacks. They’ll come in handy, guaranteed! But I’ve seen a couple of shopaholics bringing with them huge luggages instead!
- For facial, hair and skin products, you can visit the stores along the sidewalk going to Pratunam Market, which is just across the Platinum Fashion Mall. There’s a wide variety of skin, hair and facial products in there.
- Traffic tends to get crazy in this Bangkok shopping district. In fact, this city is considered to have one of the worst traffics in the world. This is why it would be convenient if you find a place to stay near the BTS station. If you’re up for a great ride, you can hire a tuktuk driver. They can find the most bizarre ways of getting out of that traffic jam for a hefty price. Just make sure you hold on to something, brace yourself and avoid getting thrown out of the tuk-tuk, ok? LOL. There are also other modes of transportation in Bangkok to choose from, which includes riding a bus, taxi, express ferry boat, MRT and motorcycle taxi.
- Most Thais are not that good yet when speaking English so make sure to sprinkle some patience on your poker face when haggling or dealing with them.
- Thai baht (THB) is the currency used in Thailand. 1GBP = ~49THB. 1EUR = ~40THB. 1USD = ~30THB. 1THB = ~1.35PHP.
- You can find money changers and banks in the city. No need to worry running out of cash.
- Tourists are granted a value-added tax (VAT) refund from all your purchases in Thailand once you leave the country from an international airport. However, a minimum single receipt transaction of 2,000 baht in a day must be followed. Just make sure you buy from participating shops that display a “VAT Refund for Tourists” signage. Better inform the store about your intent to get a refund so that they can prepare the forms for you or tell you if you can get a VAT refund if you buy from their store. You need to keep receipts and other documents as you need to present them at the VAT Refund Counter at the international airport when you fly out of Thailand.
- There are courier companies beside the Platinum Fashion Mall and near the Pratunam Market. If you are buying clothing apparel in bulk, you can go there to ship your purchases. However, make sure you go to reputable companies to avoid losing your goods. Once shipped, you just have to wait for 3 weeks to a month or so before it gets to its destination.
- If you were to ask me, I’d stay near the Pratunam Market, just across the Ratchathewi BTS station or along the Phetchaburi Rd. as this gives me great access to the cheap goods around the area. But since I don’t travel to Bangkok to shop, I’d prefer accommodations near Soi Rambuttri. Hehe.
- If you want to find the best hotel in Bangkok for shopping, be sure to consult an online map first before you book those cheap hotels in Bangkok. You have to weigh in what’s more important too – shopping or sight-seeing. If you choose shopping, find a place near the shopping centers in Bangkok. If you choose sight-seeing, stay within Khao San Road or Soi Rambuttri as those are just a walking distance from the temples around the area, which includes the Grand Palace and the Reclining Buddha. Then you can just take a bus or taxi when going to those famous shopping malls in Bangkok.
With that all said, enjoy your shopping guys!
a) MBK Shopping Mall b) Siam Paragon c) Centralworld d) Platinum Fashion Mall e) Pantip Plaza f) Pratunam Market g) Chatuchak Weekend Market h) Chinatown i) Khao San Road
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