What to buy in Bangkok, Thailand
Racks of clothing at Siam Square
Siam Square is the place to shop in Bangkok; the small sois of Siam Square have dozens of small designer boutiques. MBK Center is the most popular shopping malls for foreigners, as they sell fashion well below Western rates. Siam Paragon and the shopping plazas at Ratchaprasong are more popular to Thais. Ladies will also feel well at home in the Emporium in Sukhumvit.
Just take a few steps out of your hotel and Bangkok feels like a huge street market. Sukhumvit has the usual souvenirs, t-shirts and other tacky tourist junk. Browsing Khao San Road’s roadside stalls is particularly good for clothing and accessories, many of them for a bargain. While many of these stalls still cater to the traditional hippie crowd, they have been slowly gentrifying to appeal a broader audience. The nearby Banglamphu Market sells cheap knock-offs of everything, just like the night markets in Silom and Rattanakosin.
In the weekends, the Chatuchak Weekend Market in Phahonyothin is a must as its 8,000 stalls together form the largest market in Southeast Asia. Shoppers can buy just about everything from clothing to potted plants and everything in between — it is a paradise for browsers and bargain-hunters alike. A weekday alternative is Pratunam, one of the city’s renowned garment markets. Clothes shopping here go on wholesale, and you’re even cheaper off if you buy in bulk. At Pantip Plaza you can buy computer-related stuff from branded laptops to pirated DVDs. Just be aware that many of the “brand name” items are fakes/copies.
Yaowarat and Phahurat give a more authentic experience, although many stores sell the cheap teen accessories found elsewhere as well. Just sitting at a plastic chair and watching daily commerce evolve is a fun activity in itself. Phahurat is the best destination for fabrics, available in all colors and sizes. Pak Khlong Talat is a surprisingly fun wholesale market for all kinds of cut flowers and vegetables. If you’re a morning person, visit it around 03:00, when new flowers from upcountry arrive and the marketplace is beautifully illuminated.
Thonburi, being one of the least developed areas of Bangkok, is the best place to experience what the city used to be like. A nice break from the pulsing city is the weekends-only Taling Chan Floating Market, which feels at least somewhat authentic as it blends a rural market with the canal side way of life. Beware though that the farang density is rising as the day progresses: This used to be a little untouched gem of a floating marked and the word has spread at the high speed of the internet… Wang Lang Market is an undiscovered gem with strictly local prices. The other side of the river, Rattanakosin, has everything a good Buddhist would need, be it amulets, monk bowls or human-sized Buddha statues.
For antiques, Silom is the place to go, as most potential buyers stay there in expensive hotels. River City in Yaowarat is the largest antique mall of the city, and priced to match. Gold and gems are popular buys, but be extremely wary as many tourists buy worthless pieces of cut glass believing it to be valuable gems. Never let a tuk-tuk driver convince you into a gem store, as more often than not, you’re being ripped off. The same rule goes for tailoring shops; you can get a custom-made suit for amazingly cheap prices, but you have to know where to go, as many tailors provide bad quality — see the box for advice on finding a good tailor.
If you want to shop and see the beautiful scene of Chaophraya River at night, Asiatique the riverfront is the largest waterfront themed and new lifestyle night shopping area. It is a combination of Thai history elements and modern lifestyle. It opens daily from 5pm to midnight. There are a lot of shops here, you can find everything you would like both to eat and to buy. There are also entertainment shows; a classic Thai puppets performance. With retro props and buildings, it is also a good idea to take some photos at here.
Browsing second hand English-language books can best be done on Khao San Road. For new releases, there are plenty of chain stores in shopping plazas, including Asia Books, B2S, Bookazine and Kinokuniya. There’s a particularly wide array of books on Asian culture and history; some have a good selection of foreign newspapers and magazines as well.
Getting money in Bangkok is relatively easy; credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are spread all over the city, especially in downtown areas. They all charge when using foreign ATM cards.
Best to keep away from buying fake degrees from the Khao San Road as they are either not from a real university or cannot be verified.
“The Mall” in Bangkapi has a water park on the top floor. But, this huge mall does not have a map or directory located anywhere in the mall. All needs for directions must be asked at the information desk.
Amphawa Floating Market. On Samutsongkram near Wat Amphawanjetiyaram. Amphawa Floating Market is one of the famous tourist attractions.
Kwan-Reim floating market. Study the history of Bam Pen Nuer Temple and Bam Pen Tai Temple. New generation can see the past of people to illustrate offering some food to the monks, offering robes to Buddhist priests at monastery and listening to sermon.