By Jerome Jew
Bangkok certainly has plenty of mid level shopping (i.e. Central World) and Up scale shopping (i.e. Siam Paragon). But I love bargain shopping. And if you are like me, you will love shopping Bangkok.
Easy Bargain Shopping
MBK (Maboonkrong) – Extremely popular mall with both visitors and locals. It is off the “National Stadium” Station of the Skytrain (BTS). It is bigger than it appears as it is quite long and 8 stories high. But it is air conditioned and reasonably organized. The prices here might not be as cheap as some of the other places but they have the widest range of products here, every thing from furniture to high end cameras. For electronics/phones, only Pantip Plaza has a better selection.
Bobae Market – This is a wholesale clothing market. But like Pratunam most will let you buy one item for a bit higher price. Very inexpensive clothing endlessly row after row, floor after floor. There is both indoor (air condtioned) tower and the outdoor portions. It is not near the Skytrain or subway (BTS or MRT) so you should take a taxi. But the traffic there is not so bad.
A Bit Tougher Shopping
One of the best areas for shopping is the Pratunam Area. The difficulty is that it is a bit far to walk in the hot sun from the Skytrain. However the road that one would take to it (Ratchadamri which becomes Ratchaparop) has horrible traffic even by Bangkok standards, so if you take a taxi, it can be quite frustrating. TukTuks are minimally faster than taxis in this area and lack air conditioning. If you take the motorcycle taxi, you can get up the road very fast for very little money. But riding the motorcycle taxi is too scary for many (they will weave between cars, drive on the sidewalk, and drive on the right hand side of the road)
But if you can make it. This is bargain shopping center of Bangkok. Most shops sell items wholesale (meaning at least 3 items) but almost all will let you buy just one “retail” for a little higher price.
Pratunam Market – not air conditioned. A maze of shops. But great prices
Platinum Fashion Mall – Air conditioned but is pretty much only clothes and shoes.
Indra Square – Also air conditioned, attached to the Indra Plaza Hotel. It has a good variety of items.
Baiyoke 1 also call Garment Center – not air conditioned. Is mostly clothes. I always seem to have good luck here. I almost always find something I want to buy at a really great price
Pantip Plaza – Air conditioned and full of electronics, software, etc. Renown for copy and counterfeit item.
For the Dedicated Shopper
Sampeng Lane Market (Soi Wanit 1 and the roads that come off of it) – This area of Bangkok Chinatown is crowded, outdoor (meaning hot), and absolutely bustling with activity. You will have to constantly be dodging carts, hand trucks, motorbikes moving in and out merchandise. But this is my absolute favorite place to shop. If you keep looking you can find all sort of items here, clothes, handbags, beadind supplies, towels, even nail clippers and scissors and at fantastic prices. The best way to get here is take the Subway (MRT) to Hua Lampong Station and take a Tuktuk or Taxi (or just take a taxi the whole way)
Chatuchak the weekend Market (Jatdujak) – Not that difficult to get too, you can get there from either the subway or the Skytrain (Mo Chit Station) Chatuchak is outdoor – so hot and sticky and huge. I think the prices are not as cheap as the wholesale place above, but you can find things here that are not at other places.