The Bangkok Shopping Guide
If you are a type of tourist that considers shopping a quintessential part of traveling, you should bear in mind that the Bangkok shopping experience is both a day and night activity. This city offers shopping in high-class stores, while also giving you an opportunity to try something cheaper and more in line with the Eastern trends. This shopping guide will lead you through it all, as well as teach you how to bargain and avoid being scammed. Furthermore, it will help you understand why Bangkok is one of the world’s most famous retail hubs.
Let’s discuss the top places to shop in Bangkok.
Many of us like to buy things as a type of therapy, and it works great for the majority of everyday problems. Now take that up a notch and imagine what it’s like to shop Asian style. The experience of shopping at one of Bangkok’s famous markets, especially at night, is something that you’ll be telling your grandchildren about. Buying low-cost, high-quality items will release all the stress built up from shopping at Western malls.
The Thai capital has it all — jewelry, clothing, shoes, and of course, food and spices you shouldn’t go home without trying. You can buy all that at Bangkok’s famous malls and night markets.
Be aware that you can easily spend an entire day in one Bangkok mall. Malls are located all over the city. They are easily accessible from any part of the town and are almost always located near some tourist attractions.
So let’s explore some of the top malls to shop in Bangkok.
IconSiam is not just a mall — it is a multi-purpose building and one of the largest shopping malls in Southeast Asia. The first Apple Store in Thailand was opened in this mall. You can also visit an exhibition hall, and there’s a cinema complex with 14 movie theaters. IconSiam is famous for its riverside park of 10,000 m2 (110,000 sq ft) along the Chao Phraya River.
This mall is another wonder of Bangkok. Part of the same building as Grande Center Point station, Terminal 21’s curvilinear glass-and-steel façade resembles a high-tech airport. Every floor represents one of the world’s famous cities. You can wander in a maze of shops in Tokyo City, walk down Carnaby Street, bag a bargain in an Istanbul souk, and feel like you are buying fish at a pier in San Francisco.
This giant may be the largest mall you’ll ever walk into. The mall is located right in the heart of Chidlom, an area known for its many malls. It has an outdoor square for large-scale events, such as Bangkok’s official New Year countdown party.
CentralWorld’s retail stores allow shoppers to see storefronts at a glance, while skylights and open wells bring natural light. Sculptures made by famous artists line the halls, and you’ll tilt your head to look at 3,500 glass balls hanging in an open well.
Platinum is famous for its specialized mega-stores like SuperSports, PowerBuy, B2S, Central Food Hall, SB Furniture, and Toys ’R’ Us, which span across several floors and offer fashion items imported from Korea, Hong Kong, Japan, China, and India. Each floor of Platinum Fashion Mall is named after one famous shopping district from around the world — Orchard, Nathan, Ginza, Soho, Oxford, and Camden. There’s also a fitness center, spa, yoga, and beauty center. It’s also home to The Rink, an open ice skating rink.
If you are a parent, you can take your kids to the Genius Planet Zone and Thailand Knowledge Park.
If your idea of shopping is to pay a few dollars for an Adidas T-shirt or a Gucci belt, MBK is a place for you. Opened in 1986, MBK Center is especially active on weekends, when half of Bangkok converges to shop for cheap. Be sure to visit MBK’s 3D Trick Art Museum while you’re there.
Siam Paragon is often referred to as the mother of all malls in Bangkok. It is a tourist destination on its own. Clothes are mostly from Thai fashion designers, and you should definitely explore this world.
The plaza outside the mall with its fountain is a popular meeting point and a great photo opportunity. In addition, this mall has a Sealife immense Aquarium with an underwater tunnel.
Visiting a market is always a fun activity, regardless of where you are. The local vibe, people, and the atmosphere they create is an experience on its own.
Bangkok has something special not a lot of cities have. Night shopping at night markets is something that will change your idea of shopping. Let’s explore some of the top markets to shop in Bangkok.
Chatuchak is the largest market in Asia. Even though navigating around busy stalls can sometimes be tricky, the sensory overload you’ll experience here is quite unique. You can taste different types of food that look otherworldly, hear loud music blasting from the bars, and relax in one of many massage parlors.
You can find literally anything here. The prices are low, and bargaining is part of their tradition, so don’t be afraid to ask for an even lower price.
Pratunam is more of a morning market in every sense of the word. The stalls there are open from 6 a.m. to 8 a.m. If this is a little too early for you, there is another part of the market that starts to work around 11 a.m. and closes around 7 or 8 in the evening.
Pratunam is especially good for wholesale. Be prepared for crowds since it’s difficult to walk in here because aisles are incredibly narrow and packed with shoppers with food vendors and street sellers on the side. All of this makes the quintessential Asian street market experience. You should come to feel the atmosphere but also for low prices.
Talad Rot Fai Srinakarin Night Market
Talad Rot Fai Srinakarin is an incredible mix of a traditional market, hipster market, and drinking venue. It has changed its location a couple of times since it was first opened on land owned by the state railway of Thailand.
The underground vibe makes it an interesting place to visit even if you don’t plan on shopping. If you’re looking for something special, here, you can find specialized shops for vintage and retro clothes.
This market is located in the poorest districts of Bangkok. It’s an underground food market specialized in selling seafood. If you are into photography (RELATED: How I got my first job in photography), you will probably stay here all day just looking at insane scenery you’ve never seen before. You’ll walk by open stalls with fresh seafood and get to feel how locals live around here. So if you are into exploring or street photography, this is definitely a place for you.
General Rules for Shopping in Bangkok
Bangkok’s unique shopping experience, like everything in life, comes with a certain price. The Thailand government isn’t particularly good at controlling the quality of the products sold at the stalls. Fake copies and cheap imitations are a normal thing here. So if you want to buy something truly branded, you should definitely avoid markets. Aside from fake branded stuff, watch out for scammers and walk away if anyone is offering you something without you asking first.
Another thing that is common for Thailand is that people like to bargain a lot. Don’t be ashamed to walk away if you’re not satisfied with the price or you plan to lower it as much as you can.