Bangkok is indisputably Singaporeans' favourite shopping paradise. Bangkok has perfected its shopping scene to thrill and delight even the most discerning of shoppers. I make it a point to visit the Thai capital at least twice a year to stock up on my work & leisure clothes, accessories and check out the latest lifestyle products from innovative Thai designers. But Bangkok shopping diversity can be very confusing for the uninitiated and it’s possible to leave the city feeling a bit disillusioned about the whole experience. I am happy to share my personal best shopping guide to top Bangkok Malls & Night Market.
1. Platinum Fashion Mall
Alway make this mall your first stop in Bangkok. Platinum Fashion Mall is a wholesale centre hence the prices here are significantly lower than the rest of the shopping malls and night markets. The mall consists of two buildings with over 2,200 shops. Zone 1 & 2 are in the old building while Zone 3 is located at its newer building.
Retailers here are more keen to sell their products to a big customer than to a one-time customer hence they offer great bargains if you and your friends are able to consolidate your purchases and buy in bulk. There is a food court that serves amazing local fare on the 6th floor if you want to break for lunch before continuing your shopping!
2. Chatuchak Weekend Market aka JJ Market
Chatuchak Market is a very popular market and is only available over the weekends hence it is critical that you plan either your Saturday or Sunday around it. It is also known as Jatujak or J.J. by the Thai people. With over 27 sections offering more than 8000 stalls, this is the best place to get unique items at very good prices in Bangkok.
There are shops are selling fabrics, furniture, foods, plants, ceramics, flowers, drinks, toys, books, antiques, household items to everything, even live animal, whatever you can imagine to use in your everyday life! It is extremely easy to get lost in the market, always use the clock tower as your reference and meeting point.
3. Talad Rot Fai Weekend Night Market
If Chatuchak Market is the 'die die must visit' weekend day market in Bangkok, Talad Rot Fai has claimed the throne for the weekend night market category. Located within walking distance from Chatuchak Market, Talad Rot Fai is the latest haunt for antique hunters and retro lovers to browse and bargain for vintage collectibles, reproductions, furnitures and fashions.
Although it is tempting to plan Chatuchak & Talad Rot Fai on the same day, I strongly advise against it. Chatuchak is best visited in the morning when it is less hot and you will probably be too exhausted to stay and wait for Talad Rot Fai in the evening.
4. Mahboonkrong (MBK) Shopping Centre
MahBoonKrong or MBK, is one of the oldest and best known shopping malls in Bangkok. In fact, this shopping mall has established itself as a landmark! The amount of shops cramped in this giant building is just mind-blowing.
MBK is connected directly to National Stadium BTS and well connected to other shopping malls in this shopping belt such as Siam Discovery, Siam Paragon and Siam Square.
5. Siam Square
Popular with young, funky looking Thais, Siam Square is known for its youthful and trendy selection of fashion items. This is where you can find the coolest shops and indie boutiques that sport local designer labels as well as clothes, accessories, shoes, electronics and beauty products. The square consists of a number of small, indoor shopping centres and markets, separated by high streets and little boutique shops outdoors.
Unlike Platinum Fashion Mall, the material and design of the apparels here are of higher quality and are usually available in limited pieces. Of course, you must also be prepared to paid a premium.
6. Terminal 21
Terminal 21 is an upmarket shopping mall located next to Asok BTS Station. This mall has a unique airport theme where each floors in the mall is decorated to take on the ambience of a well-known city such as London, Rome, Paris, Tokyo and Istanbul. Hordes of tourist and even the locals flock to the mall for it's wide variety of unique stores & local designer apparels. Unlike Platinum Fashion Mall, this is not the place for cheap bargains if you are looking for one.
Even if you don't plan to do much shopping, the unique interior decorations and displays each floor is enough to keep you occupied.
7. Patpong (Silom) Night Market
Sharing the space with Bangkok famous red light district, Patpong or Silom Night Market lines the streets every night. As you avoid the pimps who try to seduce you to watch their Thai Girl or Ping Pong Shows, you will find handmade local handicrafts goods, street food and lots of fake branded items. You would have probably seen most of the stuff from Platinum or MBK Mall here.
Be sure to bargain here. Most shopkeepers will charge 2 to 3 times more than the original price if they know you are not local. If the price doesn’t suit you then try another shop, it’s most likely that you’ll come across the same product more than once.
8. Asiatique the Riverfront
Asiatique is just 10 minutes downriver from Saphan Taksin BTS station. This once-bustling international trade port has been transformed into a popular shopping & dining attraction with over 1,500 boutiques and 40 restaurants housed under a huge replica warehouse complex. The mall is split into four categories (Factory, Waterfront, Town Square & Chareonkrung District) help you find what you are looking for without too much hassle.
The 60 metres high Sky Wheel right beside the banks of Chao Phraya River is one of the main attraction at Asiatique. You can enjoy a spin on the wheel at a fee of 200 Baht (S$8.00).
9. Chinatown Market
Chinatown or Yaowarat is named after the main road running through this Chinese part of town. This part of Bangkok can either disrupt your perception of the urban scene in Bangkok or make you feel intrigued and fascinated by its energy and the amazing amount of nooks and crannies that can be explored.
Sharkfin soup, birdnest broth aside, I am personally not a fan of the Chinatown Market. But I do have female friends who sworn by this unique retail scene.
10. Floating Markets
Floating markets used to be a produce marketplace for Thai people living at the outskirts of Bangkok. Longtail boats will peddle their fruits, vegetables and even hot piping noodles to their households living along waterways. Unfortunately, the popularity of the market as a tourist attraction has lead to a degradation in the authenticity and quality of such markets.
Due to the market's distance from the city, it will probably be easier to arrange for a tour with any of Singapore local tours than to travel on your own over. Just experience one to claim your 'been there, done that'. They are not worth a second visit.
You may also like to check out my posts on other exciting travel destinations here