Since it’s impossible to cover each mall individually, we’ll focus on some of the major ones. In fact, most of the noteworthy ones are concentrated in one small area: Siam. Siam is the busiest convergence of BTS Skytrain lines in Bangkok and mall owners have capitalized on this fact by opening a total of eleven full-sized shopping malls within walking distance of the train station. Of these, Siam Paragon is probably the most popular. Paragon, the third largest mall in Thailand, connects directly to the BTS Station for convenience. Its stores are a mixture of luxury Thai brands, import brands, and more affordable chain stores. Coupled with a massive bottom floor food court, Paragon manages to provide the perfect shopping experience for almost anyone’s budget. Visitors can also go bowling, visit the aquarium and art exhibition, and even sing karaoke.
Another notable mall near Siam is the MBK center. This mall is particularly popular with foreign tourists as a result of its stall style set-up, which is reminiscent of an outdoor market with similarly low prices. The fourth floor is an electronics emporium with a multitude of stalls selling used and refurbished mobile phones. This is the perfect place to stop after you arrive in order to get a cheap phone and pre-paid data plan for your stint in Thailand. Some shoppers may turn up their nose at MBK as it’s not the most luxurious shopping center, but it’s certainly worth a look if you’re in the market for a deal.
Finally, let’s take a look at CentralWorld, the tenth largest shopping mall in the world and the biggest one in Thailand. CentralWorld is located about 10 minutes down the sky walk from Siam Station. Inside you’ll find one million square meters of shopping space, one of Thailand’s biggest cinemas, and more than enough restaurants to choose from. CentralWorld markets itself as a “middle class” shopping center in contrast to Paragon which is a bit more upscale. Though both places are large enough that you’ll be able to find both luxury and affordable goods in them. Finally CentralWorld is famous in Thailand for its annual Christmas decorations and New Years displays, but is a great place to visit any time of the year.
Markets, Markets, Markets…
Thailand is full of markets: outdoor markets, night markets, floating markets, train markets, food markets… and the list goes on. Perhaps the most famous is Chatuchak Weekend Market, the largest of its kind in Thailand. This market opens on Saturday and Sunday, covers 27 acres, and includes 15,000 booths according to its official website. It’s a large enough place that you’ll get lost – so bring a map! Want clothes? Got it! Want food? Got it! Want furniture? Got it! Want a pet? Chatuchak has got plenty of them… It’s got anything you could want at a price you can afford. You’ll just have to brave the heat, because this is place is all outside and only certain parts are in shade.
The Train Market is another interesting outdoor shopping spot. Located just behind Esplanade Shopping Center in Ratchadapisek, this market offers a very cool, laid-back, and classic Thai shopping experience. You won’t meet an overabundance of tourists here, although there are some. Food is abundant, as three full rows of the colorful, covered booths are dedicated to vending different traditional Thai foods, drinks, and snacks. Buy what you like and then relax under the bright coverings. Or take your food with you down to the end of the stalls and chow down while listening to live music played almost every night at the neat outdoor bar area.
We’ve covered only a fraction of the shopping options here in Bangkok. You should also consider checking out the Bang Kachao floating market, Patpong Night Market, Khao San Road, Chinatown, and many others. As always, the staff here at IH Bangkok are very familiar with the city and can recommend the best option for you. Don’t be afraid to ask or send your questions to [email protected], and we’ll do our best to help you find the right shopping option for you!