Vacations aren’t all just about relaxing, dining and having a great time out in the incredibly exciting nightlife of the capital of Thailand. But those are certainly important ingredients no one wants to overlook. Thankfully, once you delve into the local experiences in Bangkok, you don’t have to miss anything! And that includes exploring the very best place for shopping in Bangkok. As the shopping capital of South East Asia, you can consider that one of the most fun challenges you have ever embarked on.
Shopping in the City of Angels (as Bangkok is known, a translation of the city’s formal name in the Thai language) is not simply a matter of stepping out for a few things. It is a vast adventure with incredible options that will take you through enormous shopping malls, thrilling night markets, a wild world of Thailand souvenirs, and a journey of flavors with the famous Bangkok street food.
In general, the shopping experience of Bangkok offers three categories. This includes the whole gamut of 7-floor shopping malls in the city, a couple of which are nearly legendary in the world of shopaholics. It also figures in the broad range of night markets, and lastly, the incredibly Chatuchak Weekend Market, a shopping destination all its own.
Starting with the some of the first of these landmarks you will see from your hotel, especially if you stay in a modern and elegant hotel located right in the center of this amazing city’s commercial district of Siam, such as luxurious VIE Hotel Bangkok, shopping malls are probably a must-do as well as a must-see.
Taking a little walk of about 10 minutes from the hotel, or going the smooth and faster way on the BTS Skytrain which is located right outside the door, you can get to some of the best known shopping malls in the region. As a plus for those who enjoy a more immersive experience while traveling, walking might be the better option in the evening time, as you very well could run across some delicious Bangkok street food which is always something to try—and guaranteed never to bore the taste buds.
For your high-end name brand goods and apparel, slip right into Paragon Shopping Center directly from the Skytrain Siam station via a walkway. As glitzy and expensive as much of it is, it’s a fun eye opener that will inspire your shopping vibes.
Just next door is Siam Discovery and Siam Centrepoint. And down the road a bit is the huge MBK Center, a great place for bargains as far as shopping malls go. But to be honest, once you get on the BTS Skytrain, a very easy thing to do if you are staying at VIE Hotel Bangkok, an entire universe of shopping malls is available to you. Other popular malls like the new Central Embassy, Terminal 21, and EmQuartier, and Emporium, and more shopping malls, are all right along the line and within minutes of you once you get on the Skytrain!
But local experiences in Bangkok definitely don’t stop at the great shopping malls of the city. Truly dipping into the Thai scene and more unique Thailand souvenirs requires you to begin investigating the various and very lively night markets of the city. Before you work your way up to the mighty Chatuchak Weekend Market, some of these somewhat smaller but fascinating night markets offer some truly local experiences in Bangkok.
One of our all-time favorites of the night markets in the city has got to be the Ratchada Train Market. This one has a stylish and trendy vibe about it and cool clothes and other goods to go along with it. From the kitsch to the antique as well as the latest fashions, you will find this a fun place to browse around and pick up some unique items. Organized in long rows, the Ratchada Train Market is fairly easy to navigate. It is located just behind the Esplanade shopping mall. The market also offers a selection of pretty delicious eateries, as well as some tantalizing Bangkok street food. On the far side of it you will also find a string of cool pubs, a few with live (and loud!) music that will get your party on and make a real night out of this whole fun shopping journey. For a good many locals and tourists, this is the best place for shopping in Bangkok.
So what you do to get there from the hotel is take the BTS Skytrain down to the Asoke station. At that point just walk down to the MRT Subway which you can ride to the Thai Cultural Center station. The whole trip probably won’t even take a half hour. Nowadays, the Ratchada Train Market can get quite crowded with tour groups, so you will want to go early or late in order to have more room to maneuver while you check out the interesting stalls.
If you would like to try something with a little more exotic flavor, another night market over on Silom Road might be just what you are looking for. The Patpong Night Market is right off the Saladaeng BTS Skytrain station and only a short trip away (change to the Silom line at Siam). Known best probably for its selection of handbags and watches, one of the intriguing aspects of this night market is that it is laid out right through the center of Bangkok’s most famous red light district, Patpong.
Although the bars and go-go bars have been cleaned up quite a bit since the old days, a few dance clubs have opened in it to take up more of the main attraction in recent years, there is no denying that a bit of a risqué thrill is in the air when you browse around here, as well as the odd glimpse behind a go go curtain now and then!
For a more high-end experience of the night market, Asiatique The Riverfront is a good option. It offers a free ferry at the Taksin pier — take it at the BTS station of the same name.
The king of all the open-air markets, however, is the Chatuchak Weekend Market. This is the one place that tourists will absolutely not want to miss. A major reason for this that the market lays claim to being the biggest open-air market in the world! It holds over 15,000 stalls.
People say that if you can’t find it at Chatuchak, then it probably doesn’t exist. Once you arrive, that statement will seem very likely true. Its rows and rows of warehouses are filled narrow alleys selling just about everything under the sun. You can get all kinds of clothing here, every type of Thailand souvenirs, furniture, home improvement items, pets — you name it, Chatuchak has it. Of course, the market is also home to some delicious Bangkok street food vendors which are very worth trying!
It might seem confusing when you’re inside, but the market is actually fairly well organized. You may also run into a map or two, particularly posted near the restrooms. Section 1 is where you’ll find your eclectic collection of antiques and even religious items. All of this should be great for gifts.
Clothing is big at Chatuchak. Sections 2 and 3 are a bit brand name with the clothing (and plants actually) but 5, 6 and 7 run a gamut of styles from cowboy to hip hop. In fact you’ll find clothing all the way to Section 24 at least! However 8 to 26 are also known for household goods, with 15 and 16 selling pets.
The most magnificent and, for many, the best place for shopping in Bangkok, you can get to Chatuchak Weekend Market simply by getting on the BTS Skytrain just outside of VIE Hotel Bangkok and riding up to the Mochit station. It’s just around the corner from there!