We know there are many who think of Bangkok as a shopper's paradise. There are indeed some great bargains to be had, and there is certainly a lot to choose from, but we would be remiss if we didn't put in a word of caution: while there are bargains, many things, especially anything imported, is likely to be more expensive than elsewhere. Check prices of any planned major purchases at home before you leave.
Despite the presence of way too many glittering new shopping malls, Bangkok is still a city of markets. There are markets in just about every neighborhood, and some have become so famous that they draw customers from all around the city, as well as international visitors. See the Bangkok Markets page for ideas of which markets to visit.
- Local Handicrafts
- The biggest selection of Thai handicrafts can be found at Narayanaphand, located on Ploenchit Road in the basement of the Siam Intercontinental. Of course, one of the most well known Thai handicrafts is silk. Other distinctive Thai crafts include Benjarong ceramics and celadon.
Sadly, a lot of the 'Thai' souvenirs on sale at many tourist sites are mass produced items that may have been made in Burma, Laos, Cambodia or even China. If you want to be sure of getting a genuine Thai handicraft, and help out Thais, you might want to patronize one of several foundations and charities that make or sell real Thai handicrafts.
- You'll find shops in all the major tourist areas, but the center is River City next to the Royal Orchid Sheraton. Note that 'antique' has no legal definition in Thailand, and the word is often applied to things that could well have been made yesterday, but are designed or made to look old. Thais do not value old things, so truly old items are most likely to be found in a junk shop.
- You'll find tailor shops in many hotels and shopping centers. For discount clothing, make your way to Pratunam market, within walking distance of the World Trade Center. Be sure to note our clothing sizes caution when purchasing ready-made items.
- Computers and Technology
- Panthip Plaza on Petchburi road, not far from the Pratunam garment district, and within a long walk from Central World shopping center. Somewhat more comfortable and easier to get to is Fortune Town on Ratchadapisek Road. The Rama IX subway station is right in front of the center. Note that electronics are not necessarily cheap in Thailand. If you're visiting Malaysia or Singapore, you'll almost certainly find better prices there.
There are dozens of shopping centers around Bangkok - some very big ones in fact. Malls in Thailand are a little different than your typical shopping mall in the US. Bangkok malls are full blown entertainment centers, with supermarkets, movie theaters, bowling alleys, restaurants of every descriptions and much more. Many Thais will spend much of their free time 'hanging out' in shopping malls, which is why so many malls compete so hard for their attention. While visiting a western-style shopping mall may not be high on your list of activities for your trip, there may still be reason for you to want to visit one. Check our list of Bangkok shopping malls for the low-down on the malls you may want to see.
Most of the big malls are anchored by large department stores of one brand or another. The various brands often occupy their own market niches, so knowing a little about them may help you decide which one is right for you.
If you need more "help" to find just the right thing, or at least where to look, then check out this tome from the recognized experts in shopping the world: