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Shopping Options in Bangkok

Updated on May 15, 2012

For those people who have been to Bangkok before and have done the major tourist attractions such as the Grand Palace, Wat Pho and the Royal Barge Museum there might be a lack of ideas as to how to kill time in the city.

These are only a few of the many cultural attractions of Bangkok. A little research will unearth many more temples and museums to visit. However, for those people who soon feel ‘templed out’ a good antidote is shopping.

Shopping in Bangkok

Bangkok has that perfect combination of cheap prices and huge shopping areas. You can buy nearly anything – legal and illegal – in Bangkok. It is easy to change money nearly anywhere in Bangkok, and there is no shortage of ATM machines.

The only word of caution about shopping in Bangkok is that it can take longer than you imagine. Traveling around the city especially during rush hours can be slow. Even taking the new Skytrain or Metro still takes time to walk between stations and destination. Moreover, in Thailand it is always a good idea to stop every hour or so to get a drink. Dehydration will cloud your mind and might prevent you bargaining effectively.

Cosplay outside MBK

MBK Center

The MBK Center near Siam Square is one of the biggest shopping malls in South East Asia. It is 7 floors packed with furniture, electronics, jewelry, clothing, souvenirs and just about anything else you could want to buy. There is also a bowling alley, food court and cinema. It is possible to spend hours in the MBK. Generally, there is not much scope for negotiating prices in the MBK except on the third floor where there is a market style collection of small shops.

Pantip Plaza

Pantip Plaza

For those who want cheap computer parts, DVDs, iPhones, mp3 players or any other type of electronic hardware or software the place to go is the Pantip Plaza on New Phetchaburi Road in Ratchathewi district. The IT mall is famous for its pirated software which the government seems happy to turn a blind eye to. Putting aside the morality or legality of this, Pantip is an amazing place to wonder around. In some sections there are buckets full of computer parts. If you can build computers this place is heaven.

For those with an ironic sense of humor, it is interesting to watch monks in the mall checking out the latest phones and music players – obviously Thai Buddhism doesn’t decree against piracy. Naturally, you cannot expect many items in the Pantip Plaza to come with warranties. There are some bigger and more legitimate businesses in the plaza. I have no idea whether this means they are really legitimate and whether their guarantees are more trustworthy.

Chatuchak Weekend Market

For great outdoor shopping experiences there is the famous Chatuchak Weekend Market that offers a massive labyrinth of craft, textile and souvenir stores complete with street bands, outdoor cafes and a carnival atmosphere.

It is a long ride out on the Metro or Skytrain to Chatuchak Weekend Market. And the market itself is a place that you can easily wander around for hours. For this reason you have to put aside at least half a day to do the market.

Sampeng Lane

Sampeng Lane

There is also Sampeng Lane in Chinatown. It is here that many street hawkers in Khao San and Sukhumvit buy their wares. It is an excellent place to browse shoes, jewelry, hats, ceramics and paper products. Near the end of the market is Little India with a wide selection of fabrics.

This is a famous market for Bangkokers. This used to be at the heart of the Chinese community in Bangkok and a place famous for its opium dens and prostitutes. The dens and brothels have gone, but the Chinese community remains. Few tourists make it to this outdoor market and so it offers a good view of the city that hasn’t been generated for tourist consumption.

Patpong Night Market

Patpong Night Market

Another shopping experience that should be mentioned is Patpong Night Market. The market is on the BTS (alight at Sala Daeng Station on the Silom Line). The market and red light district that is Patpong runs in 2 parallel side streets between Silom Road and Surawong Road.

The night market offers fake Rolex and other expensive brand watches, replica football kit, electronics, souvenirs and other items. Since the market is primarily frequented by tourists the market stall owners tend to start their prices high. It is often necessary to walk away to get a better price when you are called back.

For many a trip to Patpong Market is combined with a sex show, a visit to a bar or one of the nightclubs in the area.

Conclusion

Once you start to discover what great bargains can be found in Bangkok you will find yourself preparing shopping lists for your return to the city. Indeed there are plenty of foreigners who come to Bangkok primarily to shop for their business.

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