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City Guide: Where to shop till you drop in Bangkok

Pete

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Photo courtesy of ICONSIAM.

Bangkok is known the world over for it markets, temples, street food, walking streets, tuk tuks and ladyboys, to name a few. But this bustling city also offers a dazzling array of shopping hotspots. From its countless, colourful night markets indulging the bargain hunter’s dream to the glitz and glamour of upscale shopping malls — which one is the best for you? We understand that travellers might be dazed by the maze of Bangkok’s shopping craze, with the sheer amount of options seemingly tempting you to spend your baht on every street corner.

That’s where Pete steps in to rescue you from your consumer conundrum and help you find the best bang for your baht. He’s curated this list of Bangkok’s top shopping malls, for those wanting to peruse the best sales this bustling capital has to offer — complete with food courts, caffeinated beverages and air conditioning. And of course, plenty of free WiFi.

ICONSIAM

Located along the Chaopraya River, you can take a water taxi from across the river at Chinatown and enter the mall from the pier. This takes the cake for the best view and air-conditioned atmosphere. From pier-side the vantage point, it has a stunning view of the river. For all of you IG lovers out there, prepare to spend a while snapping pics near the pier with the palace-like glass-and-gold mall in the background. Apart from the view, there are many luxury brand stores here, from Louis Vuitton to Guicci, Prada to Hermes, as well fast fashion stores the likes of as H&M and UNIQLO. The mall’s expansive selection of restaurants and cafes, coupled with its large cinema, will surely satisfy the foodie or movie lover of any variety.

Central Embassy

Central Embassy is the definition of luxury shopping. It’s got a wide collection of designer brands along with fine dining and a fancy cinema that other places can’t beat. If you want the best of the best, then Central Embassy might just be your best bet. It’s also relatively quiet, providing a more peaceful shopping experience. The top floor is home to the luxurious VIP Cinemas — where the cheapest “sofa” seat costs 1,500 THB. It’s also recently been renovated into a hip co-working space called Open House, where you can rent a desk by the hour, or use the public space for the price of a cup of coffee — for all you digital nomads out there. The mall is also connected to the neighboring shopping mall, Central Chidlom, and is accessible by either BTS Ploen Chit or Chidlom station, respectively.

MBK

MBK is one of the popular malls among tourists and travelers alike, and for the right reasons. There is something for everyone here. From countless shops selling knock-off clothing brands, to electronics stores where you can buy the latest phones, video games and accessories, complete with a food court, a cinema and an arcade — it’s the weekend warrior’s oasis. Most of the shops are reasonably inexpensive. It’s important to walk around and bargain, as some stores might give you a better deal for the same product. Its central location in Siam makes it relatively easy to access. We recommend getting off at Siam and walking around the area. For those who prefer to give their feet a rest, get off at BTS National Stadium station.

Siam Paragon

Siam Paragon is located in the heart of Bangkok and is famous among the younger generation. It’s always busy, especially after school and working hours. There are countless stores you can shop at from H&M and Uniqlo to high-end luxury brands like Chanel and Hermes. There is an aquarium if you’re visiting with your kids, and a cinema on the top floor to catch the latest blockbuster. If you’re out with your friends, the bowling alley is right next to the cinema. Just a short walk from Siam Paragon, there are two other shopping malls called Siam Center and Siam Discovery. Think of Siam as Shibuya in Tokyo. There is everything that you can wish for in one area.

Fortune Town

We must not overlook the geeks and nerds. Fortune Town is the ideal location for getting lost in the world of IT. If you’re looking for a new computer or want to build your own, this is the place to go. There are also numerous hardware and software options. But it’s not just about computers and laptops. If you enjoy photography, Fortune has you covered as well. If you’re interested in technology, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. You can visit here by getting off at MRT Petchaburi station.

Platinum Fashion Mall

Platinum is a great place for the ladies as there is everything on sale, from dresses, casual clothing, bags, and shoes. Everything that is on sale is affordable and cheap. Most stores sell in bulk, making you want to buy even more. Most of the stores sell the same clothing, but the price varies so it’s important to shop around. Here is a little far from the train station, and the closest station is BTS Chidlom station, and you have to walk for about 1 kilometers.

Terminal 21

Each floor is themed after a different city, each an international travel destination. The entire shopping mall feels like you’re in an airport, with a unique urban vibe on each floor. The signs resemble the flight arrival and departure signs, while the pretty ladies at the information desk wear flight attendant uniforms. The food court here is well known and liked by both travellers and office workers alike, with a wide selection of tasty and affordable dishes. And like any decent mall in Thailand, there’s a Starbucks on the first floor for those who want their patented caffeine kick or matcha latte, as well as a cinema on the top floor, which offers the latest domestic films and Hollywood blockbusters. The shops here aren’t limited to luxury brands, but also include many local and boutique brands that can’t be found elsewhere, making it a great spot for gift shopping. Travellers who want to do some last-minute souvenir or clothes shopping in the capital can make a quick pit-stop here, before hopping on the MRT one stop south to Phetchaburi station, then transferring to the Airport Rail Link via Makkasan Station to enjoy a cheap, air-conditioned ride straight to the Suvarnabhumi Airport.

ASIATIQUE

While not a shopping mall per se, this well-developed, riverside shopping area offers the colourful assortment and open-air allure of night markets with the safety and sanitation of a shopping mall, not to mention its exquisite selection of restaurants. But it’s got both places beat in terms of the view. Located beside the Chao Praya river, you can ride a ferris wheel overlooking the Bangkok skyline at night. Just a 10 minute walk away from the BTS Saphan Taksin station, it’s open from 5 pm to midnight, seven days a week. Formerly the sight of an international trade port, now you can cruise around, (no pun intended) checking out boutiques and buying gifts as souvenirs. There are two shows: a Thai puppet show and the Calypso Cabaret (i.e. ladyboy show). ASIATIQUE is one of the main spots to watch the city’s fireworks show along the river during the annual New Year’s celebration.

What’s your take?

So there you have it, our list of the top shopping malls for style and selection, fun and entertainment, location and cuisine. When it comes to shopping, Bangkok has you covered. Regardless of your price preference, everyone can find something to their liking in this city of material pleasure. As far we know, all shopping malls in the city is are from 10 am to 10 p.m., seven days a week, except on public holidays and special occasions. Of course, there are numerous other places to shop in Bangkok, but these are our favourites. What are yours? Is there another mall or special shopping spot that didn’t make our list? Or do you have an exceptional shopping experience you’d like to share? Let us know in the comments section below and contribute to the ThaigerTalk travel community!

Note: A previous version of this article appeared under the “Bang for Your Baht” category. We have moved it over to the “City Guide” category to better represent the content.

 

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Pete is a writer for The Thaiger, and he writes various topics from news, travel and property. His main focus is writing about Thai news, and what is happening in Thailand.

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