The Ultimate Bangkok Shopping Guide
I was born in the city of Bangkok, so maybe that makes me a touch biased; but there are sooooo many reasons that make this place a shopper’s dream. I class it as one of the most exciting and unique shopping experiences in the world, because of the range of shopping approaches it caters for. Let me explain.
First, you can shop for handmade goods on the street or markets with prices starting at less than a dollar, or you can take it to the extreme and hit up one of Bangkok’s many high end boutiques – Chanel, Hermes, Dior – you name it they’ve got it, in abundance. And yes, it sounds cliche to say there’s something for everyone, but in this case it’s true.
Second, you get to shop almost whenever you like – this city never sleeps… (Ok… another cliche! But it’s true!) Bangkok shopkeepers aren’t early risers, but they’ll happily stay open until 10pm or midnight to bag a sale, so there’s no rushing around at 6pm before the doors shut, you can even take a break and catch dinner in between boutiques! Yay!!!
There are several clustered shopping experiences I’d love to highlight, the spots where you’ll find me on the hunt for new outfits. This basically restricts me to a handful of hotels, because I like to be in very short distances from the likes of Platinum Mall and CentralWorld, so I’ll also list my three top shopper hotels later.
Here we go – in order of where you should start, and how you should make your way through the Bangkok shopping maze.
This is a quaint way to get started on your Bangkok shopping holiday. Siam Square is a collection of little boutiques set among criss-crossing pathways that has the intimacy and character of a market, with each shop fuelled by modern air conditioning.
You’ll find more local Thai designers here than in the big stores, as the leases are cheap and flexible enough for the locals to set up and get creative. There’s loads of cheap streetwear and when I was growing up in Bangkok, this was the place to be seen! You’ll often spot bloggers and celebrities wandering around (well… Thai celebrities, who you may not recognise… don’t expect to bump into Kendall Jenner!). It’s also right next to Siam BTS station – another essential ingredient of Bangkok shopping, unless you want to sit idle in a taxi in bumper-to-bumper traffic!
Hot tips for Siam Square:
- Visit the Hello Kitty Cafe for some selfies!
- Grab a Shibuya honey toast from After You cafe! (After You is where all the cool Thai kids hang out.)
- If you’re missing your Western food, grab a burger and some fries from the Hard Rock Cafe!
- If you want to grab an iPhone case or any electronic accessories like power banks etc., ask someone for directions to MBK – it’s just next door and specialises in gadgets
- Don’t spend all of your money, you’ll want to save it for the small designers who moved from here to Platinum Fashion Mall!
Hotel tip: Check out Novotel Bangkok on Siam Square for this area
This is across the road from Siam Square and is part of a network of shopping malls, including Siam Centre, Siam Paragon and CentralWorld.
Siam Discovery recently re-opened after a face lift/refurbishment, and has become one of my favourite Bangkok shopping malls. It is a little pricey but it’s so beautiful and unique – I’m happy just to window shop here.
You’ll find brands including Issey Miyake, Diesel and Comme des Garcons, alongside concept stores – it’s become a real showcase spot for brands looking to experiment.
The centre reminds me of an art gallery, it’s also got awesome music and great air con – definitely spend some time people-watching here!
Here you’ll find more high end treats – the centre is lined with the likes of Chanel, Hermes, Valentino, Jimmy Choo, Burberry… you get the idea.
However due to goods and services tax, luxury items in Thailand are way more expensive than in other countries. If it’s luxury brands you’re after and you love a good buy, then definitely do your window shopping here and then save your money for when you travel to Europe. Or depending on the strength of the Aussie dollar, sometimes it’s even cheaper to buy back home in Australia.
But there are Zara, Forever21, H&M stores here, and there’s a great cinema, good restaurants and even an aquarium – so don’t think there’s no reason to come here, just because you’re not interested in luxury brands.
Hotel tip: If you’re happy to splurge a little, Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok connects directly with Siam Paragon, so you can stroll in continuous air conditioning from your room to Jimmy Choo!!
Get back on the skywalk and continue from Sian Paragon to CentralWorld. CentralWorld is similar to Siam Paragon, with a couple of bigger department stores attached – by now you might start getting a little sick of the brands and experiences that you could easily find back home, so it’s time to move onto something a little more ‘Thai.’
Hotel Tip: Stay at Centara Grand at CentralWorld for direct access.
Platinum Fashion Mall
Ok now we’re talking! This is my favourite place to shop in Bangkok. Actually, in the whole of South East Asia. In Thailand, I try to find really cool pieces that I can’t get back in Sydney and I want it to be cheap! This is the place where, if you have $50, you’ll be shopping nonstop for hours. For that amount of cash, you can probably get a couple of outfits, shoes, a handbag, sunglasses and hat. It’s basic, and therefore very cheap.
What’s the catch? Platinum is a wholesale mall and they will often ask you to buy two items from the store in order to get a discount. Feel free to bargain with them. It’s always fun, but just remember you’re bargaining for items that are probably two or three dollars on average, so don’t be too hard on us Thais!
There are two main fashion malls. The first one consists of clothing, shoes and bags. The second mall includes some men’s fashion, and has a rockin little food court upstairs. I can literally spend a whole day here. It’s simple yet air-conditioned, it’s like an outdoor market but with air-con!!! Perfect! Who wants to sweat outside when you can experience a bargain in comfort?!
Handy tips for Platinum Mall:
- You’ll get what you pay for at times, so don’t be surprised if your $3 shoes don’t last three years
- There are no fitting rooms – so leave your modesty at the door or be prepared to take some risks on sizing
- On that, I’m often an extra large in Thai sizes and a shoe size 40, when I’m a 38 in regular European sizing
- You will find loads of cool little jewelry pieces, leather cuffs, necklaces etc. at great prices
- But if you want great quality that will last, I don’t think you’ll find it at Platinum
Hotel Tip: For a cheap and cheerful stay, check out Novotel Bangkok Platinum
From here you can move onto loads more shopping in Bangkok (Emporium, The EmQuartier, Chatuchak, Asiatique etc.), but this is my pick for a quick and convenient sweep of typical Bangkok shopping life.
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