It's easy to conclude that shopping is a national pastime in Thailand. From neighborhood markets to huge gleaming shopping malls, if there's something to be bought, there are a lot of people there.
The old warehouses of Asiatique The Riverside night market
- Mall That Has It All: Siam Paragon
- From the huge ocean aquarium in the basement to the multi-screen theater and bowling alley on the top floor, Siam Paragon is full of a large array of things to see and do, as well as buy. The mall occupies a key place, both literally and figuratively, in the Bangkok shopping landscape. It is located almost in the center of the Siam area, Bangkok's main shopping district, and aims for the very top end of the market, with show rooms for almost every luxury brand you can think of, from Mont Blanc to Maserati. But shopping at Siam Paragon doesn't have to cost you a fortune. There are many inexpensive shops where you can buy things, as well as a huge array of food options.
- Souvenirs: Narai Phand
- There are plenty of places to buy souvenirs and Thai handicrafts all over Bangkok, but for a good selection of quality locally made goods, Narai Phand is still the best place.
- Fresh Market: Aw Taw Gaw
- Even in modern Bangkok, traditional fresh markets still abound and can be a fascinating glimpse into daily life and real Thai food. The Aw Taw Gaw market is a demonstration project of the ministry of agriculture, so it's a little more presentable than most, and it's incredibly easy to get to.
- Night Market: Asiatique: The Riverside
- Built around some old warehouses on the Chaophraya River, this market fully of shops and restaurants is aimed squarely at tourists, but it's so well done that I forgive it for that.
- Local Market: Railroad Market
- At the other end of the spectrum from Asiatique, as well as at the other side of the city, the Railroad Market takes place on weekend nights only, in a disused part of big railroad freight yard. While there are permanent shops selling furniture, the market is mostly a swap meet, where people come with carloads of anything and everything. You can never be sure what you'll find here.
- Technology: Fortune Town
- Gadgets such as laptop computers and digital cameras aren't necessarily any cheaper in Bangkok than elsewhere, but they can be competitively priced. If you want to check out what's available then the best place is the Fortune Town mall, which is now over 80% devoted to technology products. There are die-hards that insist Panthip Plaza is the only place to go, but the reality is that the shops at Fortune Town are run by the same people, offering the same goods as Panthip. Fortune Town is much less cramped, and with a subway station right on its doorstep it's much easier to get to.