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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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’.