Bangkok is an absolute paradise for shopaholics like my wife with mega shopping malls, huge outdoor markets, cheap street sellers, and designer boutiques: everywhere you turn there’s something new to discover. Here’s a guide to the best areas and shopping experiences in Bangkok.
The heart of Bangkok shopping, Siam, is home to some of the city’s largest and most popular shopping centers like Siam Paragon, MBK Center, CentralWorld, and Siam Center. The latter boasts several designer boutiques like Wonder Anatomie, Painkiller Atelier, and Gin & Milk.
Siam Paragon is an enormous luxury shopping center mixing expensive brands such as Louis Vuitton, Armani, Prada, Chanel with chain stores like Zara, Mango, and H&M. The mall is so huge you’ll also find Ferrari and Lamborghini stores, Southeast Asia’s largest aquarium, and a cinema complex — which some of the theaters have king-sized beds. The ground floor is the place to go when you’re hungry.
Believe it or not, but there is a larger shopping center than Siam Paragon in this area; CentralWorld — the largest shopping center in Thailand and the tenth largest in the world. This enormous complex boasts an ice-rink, a 15-screen cinema, and an edutainment center for kids. CentralWorld also houses Bangkok’s biggest sports shop, Super Sport, and there is a wide selection of eastern and western food located on the 3rd, 6th, and 7th floor.
MBK Center is like a huge indoor market with thousands of small shops and stalls spread over eight floors. Loved by both locals and budget travelers, MBK attracts more than 100,000 shoppers a day looking for clothes, accessories, mobile phones, and camera equipment. Head to the 5th and 6th floor when you’re hungry.
Sukhumvit is one of Bangkok’s most exclusive areas with high-rise buildings, fancy apartments, luxury hotels, restaurants, bars, and clubs. The shopping starts on the street with endless stalls of souvenirs, accessories, clothes, etc., and continues into huge shopping centers such as Terminal 21, Emporium, and EmQuartier.
Terminal 21 is one of the most popular shopping centers in all of Bangkok with 600 shops spread over nine floors. Each floor has a theme based on world-famous streets in cities such as Paris, Rome, London, Tokyo, and San Francisco. The basement floor has a Caribbean theme decorated with a beach and a gourmet market which attracts lots of people.
The residential area of Ekamai boasts some of the best second-hand and vintage shopping in Bangkok like (un) FASHION Vintage and Again & Again — both a short tuk-tuk drive away from Ekamai BTS Station.
Silom is one of Bangkok’s most important financial districts with many bank headquarters and financial institutions — much like Wall Street in New York City. At night, Silom changes its character with the nightlife scene of Patpong as the most famous (read infamous) in Bangkok. However, Patpong is also known for its night market with lots of stalls selling fake brands like Ray-Ban and Ralph Lauren.
Silom Complex, just across Sala Daeng BTS Station, is the only shopping center on Silom Road. It’s not as big as other famous shopping centers, but you’ll find some fun shopping including Asia Books. It’s also a good place to just escape the heat and have some lunch at restaurants like Wine Connection and Piri-Piri Flaming Chicken.
Pratunam, home to the second tallest building in Thailand, Baiyoke Tower, is a major shopping area in Bangkok popular among both Bangkokians and tourists. The main shopping street in Pratunam is Petchaburi Road where you’ll find the must-see Pratunam Market and the enormous Platinum Fashion Mall.
Pratunam Market is one of the biggest and most popular markets in Bangkok and a great place to interact with the locals. Pratanum Market is what Bangkok shopping was all about before the mega malls.
Platinum Fashion Mall is Thailands largest indoor wholesale with over 2,000 shops and my wife’s favorite place when shopping in Bangkok. If you like the typical Bangkok market but prefer air-condition, this is the place!
Chinatown is located in one of the oldest parts of Bangkok, about 2 km from the Grand Palace. Walking through its narrow alleys and streets with wooden buildings, you will find lots of shops and stalls offering different and unique things to buy.
The narrow streets can be crowded and chaotic, but that’s the charm of Chinatown. Sampeng Lane Market, Itsaraphap Lane Market, Old Siam Plaza, and Pahurat (Little India) are some places to mention.
There is some fun shopping along the Chao Phraya River with Asiatique The Riverfront as the most popular. Renovated in 2012, this open-air night bazaar and entertainment area feature 1,500 shops and stalls, and 40 restaurants inside old warehouses from the early 1900’s.
River City is a four-story mall with South-East Asia’s largest collection of arts and antiques with a monthly auction. River City also boasts fashion stores selling Thai silk, gems, and leather accessories.
If you’re in Bangkok’s Old City visiting cultural attractions such as The Grand Palace, Wat Pho, and Wat Arun — head to Tha Maharaj for some retail shops and open-air restaurants. And don’t miss the famous Khao San Road, referred to as “the center of the backpacking universe” by Alex Garland in his best-selling book ‘The Beach‘.
Another must-see shopping place outside downtown Bangkok is Chatuchak Weekend Market — the biggest market in Thailand with 15,000 stalls.