It is easy to shop til you drop in Bangkok but it can be an overwhelming experience in the heat, with the number of people on the streets and the choice on offer. Siam Paragon is a very modern high-end mall with all the designer labels and a big department store if you have big bucks to spend. It is actually worth visiting just for the fantastic open-plan food level with a huge choice of eateries including sushi, burgers, pizza, bakery and some very cheap Thai meals in the food court canteen which looked popular with locals. The supermarket seems pretty expensive though perhaps catering more to wealthy expats with money to burn on brands they recognise.
Opposite this mall is the Siam Center which has more high street clothes shops.
The Suan Lum night bazaar (nearest station Lumphini) has a great atmosphere with open-air bars and live music, definitely for tourists not locals but you can haggle and there are some good quality stalls and little boutiques run by small local designers and artists among the tat and souvenirs so you can find some unusual crafts and clothes. You can also get a foot massage or a fish spa and get a good cheap meal in the central food court. The night market at Patpong is not as seedy as you might think but only really sells the tourist tat like logo T-shirts and fake watches. You will be offered entry to a ping-pong show several times but the touts don’t hassle you much and there is nothing offensive on the street it’s all behind closed doors so you might just see a glimpse of a girl in a bikini. There are a couple of good shops offering the better standard of copy if you’re in the market for a fake handbag but they’re fairly arrogant about the value of their merchandise and start negotiations at inflated prices so it can be hard to make them budge enough to really get a real deal.
The main market experience in Bangkok is undoubtedly Chatuchak (also called JJ’s) which is only on at weekends. You can get the Skytrain to Mo Chit or use the Metro. It is an amazing sight to behold and hard work on a hot day but there is so much to see and Thai families come for a day out so it’s not just for tourists. There are plenty of weird and wonderful things to buy and eat. The fresh coconut icecream is delicious! Another place you can buy anything and everything but with aircon is MBK which is a huge shopping centre not far from the others at Siam but in a very different style. It is set over seven enormous floors and is more like an indoor market with hundreds of small shops and stalls and although you can get a map to help you navigate it would still be easy to lose track of time or the will to live if you’re not a hardcore bargain hunter. If you want to get round a few of these shopping areas, it is definitely worth getting to grips with the Skytrain system to avoid the traffic but the taxis outside the rush hour are fairly cheap as long as you make sure they use the meter which some drivers refuse to and quote a set rate upfront.
991/1 Rama 1 Road Pathumwan Bangkok 10330 Thailand
Google map: bit.ly/fov4tQ
MBK Center, 444 Phayathai Rd., Patumwan, Bangkok
Google map: bit.ly/fDpj4A
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