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Shopping in Bangkok

Bangkok is arguably the best place in Asia for shopping, with visitors spoilt for choice. The city is great for bargain-hunters, especially those who love haggling with street vendors. Good buys include silk, silver and gold, gems (rubies and sapphires are indigenous to Thailand), pearls, ceramics, wickerwork, woodcarvings and leather goods. It’s also an ideal place to have clothes tailor-made if you have time.

Key areas

Explore Chinatown’s gold shops, the Pak Khlong Talat 24-hour flower market, Woeng Nakhon Kasem flea market (the ‘Thieves' Market') and nearby Phahurat cloth market in the Indian quarter. The River City Shopping Complex, by the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel, has two floors of antiques while backpacker hub Khao San Road and Sukhumvit Road remain popular spots for clothing and souvenirs.

Markets

Sukhumvit Road’s street market runs most of the day but is busiest at night. Patpong’s night market also attracts shoppers, although some may want to give its colourful nightlife a wide berth. The bustling weekend market at Chatuchak Park is a must, selling virtually everything from Thai art to clothing, while Asiatique The Riverfront has over 1,500 boutique market-style shops. Floating markets include Taling Chan and Khlong Lat Mayom in Thonburi and further away, Amphawa and Damnoen Saduak.

Shopping centres

Bangkok loves its malls. Old favourites include MBK, Central World, Siam Centre, Palladium and Platinum. Designer and international brands fill Gaysorn, Emporium and Siam Paragon, or try Terminal 21, Mega Bangna and Silom Complex. The luxurious Central Embassy has more than 200 designer outlets, restaurants and cafés. It is located between Chidlom and Phloenchit Skytrain stations. Show DC Bangkok is a Korean-style megamall featuring a live music hall, sports arena and rooftop bar and club, as well as restaurants and shops.

Opening hours

Many stores are open 12 hours a day, seven days a week. Street markets have even longer hours, with some busier in the mornings and others in the evenings.

Souvenirs

Traditional ‘axe’ pillows, handicrafts such as painted umbrellas, fans and embroidered handbags, and textiles all make good take-home gifts. Thai silk and jewellery are also popular keepsakes.

Tax information

A Thailand Duty-Free Shop is in the Downtown Duty Free Mall, King Power Complex, Rangnam Road. Tourists can pay for purchases here and collect them at the airport prior to departure. Value Added Tax (7%) can be refunded on goods bought in shops labelled ‘VAT refund for tourists’.

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The Oriental

One of the most famous hotels in the world, The Oriental is located by the Chao Phraya River and is the hotel of choice for royalty and celebrities past and present, such as Somerset Maugham, the Prince of Wales and Elizabeth Taylor. Although the original Author's Wing was built in 1887 and is very much colonial in style, two more modern wings tend to dominate the appearance of the hotel. However, the 393 rooms (including 35 suites) are all sumptuously decorated.

The Eugenia

A fine boutique hotel, with just 12 suites, in an elegant colonial house. The suites all have antique furniture, part of a collection belonging to the owner. There is a lounge bar and a restaurant, the D B Bradley, which serves a fusion of east and west. Facilities include an open-air swimming pool and high-speed internet access. Airport transfers can be arranged in one of their fleet of vintage cars.

The Dusit Thani

This is one of the most opulent hotels in Bangkok and is conveniently located off the Silom Road in the business and entertainment district overlooking Lumphini Park. The 500-plus rooms are all sumptuously decorated in Thai style and all have satellite TVs, VCRs and mini-bars.

Peninsula

With commanding views of the Chao Phraya River, this hotel in Bangkok has a reputation for excellent service and hospitality. All rooms have a river view, some with balconies, terraces or outdoor Jacuzzis, and are sumptuously decorated. Rooms have marble bathrooms, executive work desk, CD/DVD player, camcorder video playback facilities and Wi-Fi. Diners are well catered for with several restaurants including Mediterranean cuisine at Jesters and Thai home-made style cooking at Thiptara. Leisure facilities include a spa, gym, tennis courts and three-tiered swimming pool.

Dream Hotel

This trendy boutique hotel, where the style is a fusion of East meets West, is now well-established on the Bangkok scene. The 200 rooms have plasma TVs, iPods, Wi-Fi and under-bed lighting. There are even pet-friendly rooms. There is one restaurant, Flava , and a cocktail lounge, spa, health club, swimming pool and business centre.

Conrad Bangkok

Stylish Bangkok hotel, close to Lumphini Park, with contemporary, understated Thai design throughout. Silk and wood are used in all the rooms and suites. Superb facilities including several restaurants (Italian, Chinese and Japanese), nightclub, spa, fitness centre, swimming pool, jogging track and tennis courts.