Shopping in Bangkok
Bangkok is a shopaholic's paradise with huge malls that lie side by side in the city's centre. In addition, Bangkok has several large markets with countless stalls and shops.
If you are a shopaholic, you should stay far away from Bangkok. Instead, go straight to Chiang Mai, Phuket or anywhere else in Thailand. In Bangkok, you may lose control, and you will subsequently have to spend many months in rehab.
The shopping malls in Bangkok are numerous and huge with a wide range of offerings. The following image is from Pantip Plaza, a five-story mall exclusively devoted to computers, mobile phones and other electronic gadgets.
Of course, you can go shopping all over Thailand but nowhere as in Bangkok. For instance, here, you will find CentralWorld, which is the third largest shopping mall in the world. Just a stone's throw away, you will find Siam Paragon, that is almost as big, and next to that, you will find Siam Center, and Siam Discovery and ...
Besides the many malls, you will find several markets. Pratunam Market offers cheap clothes not far from CentralWorld. A bit from the city centre, you will find the Chinatown Market, which can be quite an experience, and further away, you will find Chatuchak Weekend Market, one of the biggest weekend markets in the world.
You can read more about the different shopping options below. However, please notice that I only mention the largest and most interesting of them. There are many more shopping malls and markets in the area around CentralWorld as well as in the rest of Bangkok.
The stores in most of the malls have fixed prices for the goods. However, if there are no price tags on the goods, it is a sign that the prices should be haggled. Read more in the article How to Haggle.
At the end of this article, you will find a map of the malls and markets I mention in the article.
You will find plenty of eateries in all the malls. However, they may not be like the ones you know from home. In many places, you will find so-called food courts. Typically, a food court consists of many small kitchens with a common dining area. Instead of paying with the kitchen with cash, you pay with a voucher that you buy beforehand at a counter.
In most places, the voucher is an electronic plastic card filled up with the amount you choose. Make sure you have enough money on the voucher for the food you want to buy; otherwise, you will be sent back to fill it up while your food gets cold.
Once you have eaten, you can get the remaining money on the voucher back at the counter. Please be aware that in some places, the voucher is only valid for one day; in other places, the voucher is valid for a week or more.
Many of the big shopping malls are near a Metro or a Skytrain station; thus, you can get there without being stuck in the traffic. However, it may not be convenient to use public transportation back to your hotel if you have many bulging shopping bags to carry. In that case, you can enjoy the cheap taxis that you find in front of the shopping malls.
If you take a taxi, be sure that the driver is using the taximeter. Many drivers will suggest a fixed price, which will be two to four times more expensive than the meter. If you do not want to get scammed, insist on the meter and take the next taxi if the driver refuses.
Most of the shopping malls are open from 9 or 10 (AM) to 21 or 22 (9 or 10 PM) every day. However, please check the opening hours at their websites if you want to be sure. You will find links to their websites below. One note about the websites: Generally, Thai websites are not very informative. Some malls and markets don't even have a website, others may have websites in Thai only or mostly in Thai, and navigating the sites can be cumbersome.
Please be aware that a well-known scam amongst taxis and tuk-tuks is them telling you that the mall you want to visit is closed; instead, they will offer to take you to "a much better place" – a place that pays the driver a commission for bringing you. If the driver suggests another place, I will recommend that you instead take the next taxi or tuk-tuk with a, hopefully, more honest driver.
Shopping Malls and Markets
Here, you will find an overview of the largest and most important shopping malls and markets in Bangkok.
- Siam Paragon
- Siam Center/Siam Discovery
- Platinum Fashion Mall
- Pratunam Market
- Indra Square
- Palladium Square
- Pantip Plaza
- Digital Gateway
- Chinatown Market
- Chatuchak Weekend Market
- Terminal 21
At the end of this article, you will find a map of the malls and markets as wells as transportation with the Metro and the Skytrain.
CentralWorld is the world's third largest shopping mall. Here, you will find 600 stores and a state-of-the-art cinema spread over eight floors.
The mall has a total retail area of 550,000 square metres (5.9 million square feet). If you include office space and the associated hotel, CentralWorld is more than 1,000,000 square metres (10.7 million square feet)!
Read more at CentralWorld's website. Opening hours 10 to 22 (10 AM to 10 PM).
Siam Paragon is just a short walk from CentralWorld and is almost as large with its 270 stores in more than 400,000 square metres (4.3 million square feet).
Siam Paragon is not only worth a visit for shopping. Like most other major centres, it has a cinema, and in this case, it is the largest cinema in Asia.
Furthermore, in the basement, you will find the Bangkok Sealife Ocean World aquarium. It is one of the largest aquariums in Southeast Asia with its 10,000 square metres (107,000 square feet).
The owners of Siam Paragon also own Siam Center and Siam Discovery (see below), they offer a mutual tourist card giving you up to 30 percent discount.
Read more at Siam Paragon's website. The aquarium has its own website: Bangkok Sealife Ocean World. Opening hours for the mall is 10 to 22 (10 AM to 10 PM), the aquarium is open from 10 to 21 (10 AM to 9 PM) – last entry at 20 (8 PM).
Siam Center & Siam Discovery
Built in 1973, and renovated several times, Siam Center is one of the oldest shopping malls in Bangkok. Today, the mall appears somewhat artsy with moderns sculptures spread around. In 1997 the mall got a new neighbour, the six-story Siam Discovery, the two malls are interconnected and owned by the same group of people that also owns Siam Paragon. The three malls offer a mutual tourist card giving you up to 30 percent discount.
On the fifth floor of Siam Discovery, you will find Madame Tussauds where you can get close to the stars – or at least wax models of the stars.
Read more at Siam Center's website, at Siam Discovery's website, and at Madame Tussauds's website. Opening hours for the two malls are 10 to 22 (10 AM to 10 PM). Madame Tussauds's opening hours are 10 to 20 (10 AM to 8 PM).
If you need accessories for your mobile phone or even a new one, MBK is the place to go. In addition to the many usual shops with clothing and Thai handicrafts, there are a ton of small shops with mobile phones and equipment for them. MBK offers 2000 shops on its eight floors.
Please keep in mind that the mall is notorious for its many shops with pirated goods and that the pirated goods may not be cheaper than the originals. Please also note that while buying accessories for your mobile phone can be fine, buying a new mobile phone may not be the best idea as you may experience problems with warranty, language settings, region blocking, etc.
Read more at MBK's website. Opening hours are 10 to 22 (10 AM to 10 PM).
If money is no object while the brand is very much an object, then Gaysorn is for you. Here, you will find more than 100 stores with expensive branded clothing and jewellery such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, Givenchy, La Perla, Christian Dior, Loewe, Fendi, Tag Heuer and Hugo Boss. If you are looking for a T-shirt for 100 baht or if you want to haggle the prices, don't bother to come here.
Read more at Gaysorn's website. Opening hours are 10 to 20 (10 AM to 8 PM).
Erawan is one of the smaller malls in the area of CentralWorld. Here you will find luxury items, a wellness and beauty centre, and eateries, including the Erawan Tea Room, which is one of the fives best restaurants in Asia according to the Miele Guide and mentioned in The Michelin Guide as well. From the Erawan Tea Room, you have a great view of the Erawan Shrine.
Read more at Erawan's website. Opening hours for the shops are 10 to 21 (10 AM to 9 PM), the restaurants are open from 8 to 24 (8 AM to midnight).
Amarin, also known as Amarin Plaza, is a five-floor shopping mall that offers 300 shops. Here, you can buy clothing, jewellery, Thai handicrafts, cosmetics and other beauty products; in addition, the mall contains a spa.
Read more at Amarin's website. Opening hours are 10 to 21 (10 AM to 9 PM).
Platinum Fashion Mall
Platinum Fashion Mall has approximately 2800 small clothing stores that sell both retail and wholesale. You do not need to have a business to get wholesale prices it's only a matter of how much you buy.
The goods are not that different from what you can find at Pratunam Market on the other side of the road. However, Platinum Fashion Mall is not as crowded as the market is and here, you have air conditioning. On the other hand, typically, the goods are more expensive here.
Read more at Platinum Fashion Mall's website. Opening hours Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday are 8 to 20 (8 AM to 8 PM); Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday 9 to 20 (9 AM to 8 PM).
Pratunam Market consists of a many small shops in a myriad of small alleyways. The stores sell both retail and wholesale.
The goods are not unlike what you find in Platinum Fashion Mall next to the market; however, here, the prices are lower – if you can haggle. On the other hand, there is no air conditioning in the market, it can be crowded, and it can be hard to find your way around.
Pratunam Market does not have a website. Typically, the opening hours are between 10 and 21 (10 AM and 9 PM); however, the individual stores may have other opening hours.
Indra Square has many small shops, mainly clothing stores. It operates more like a market than as a mall; you are supposed to haggle here. Usually, there are no price tags on the goods; thus, you have to ask for a price. Typically, the price you get as a tourist is two or even three times higher than where you can end after haggling.
Often, you can get a better deal in the small shops in the adjacent Pratunam Market, but here you have air conditioning.
Indra Square does not have a website; however, they are on Facebook. The opening hours are 10 to 21 (10 AM to 9 PM), although not all the shops adhere to the official opening hours, many close earlier.
Palladium Square (Pratunam Center)
Previously known as Pratunam Center, the mall reopened as Palladium Square in 2011 after a refurbishment and renovation.
According to plan, the mall should have both retail and wholesale on its seven floors. One floor was for jewellery, one for souvenirs, one for mobile phones and equipment, and there should be clothing shops and eateries on the other floors. However, when I visited a few months after the opening, many of the shops were empty. Since then I have visited three times more years apart, and it was still somewhat dead. They even closed the mall's website.
There are some jewellery shops here, and some massage parlours, offering cheap massages; however, if you want to buy anything but jewellery, you may prefer the marked stalls in front of the mall. Opening hours for the mall are 10 to 21 (10 AM to 9 PM).
Not all the malls in Bangkok offer clothes and Thai handicrafts; you will not find those in Pantip Plaza. Instead, Pantip Plaza dedicates its five floors to computers, electronic devices, and accessories. Most of the shops offer new goods, a few offer second-hand goods and a few offer repairs.
The prices are reasonable on the accessories; however, you will probably not save much on computers, gaming machines etc. compared to the prices at home. In addition, you may experience problems with warranties, and some of the shops sell counterfeit and pirated items. In some of the shops, you can haggle the prices.
Pantip Plaza has a website, although it hasn’t been updated since 2016. The official opening hours are from 10 to 21 (10 AM to 9 PM); however, the mall does not enforce the opening hours, thus, the shops open and close as it suits them. If you come in the afternoon, usually, they are all open.
At Digital Gateway, you will find games for computers and gaming devices, cameras and other electronic gadgets. The mall is not as big as Pantip Plaza; however, it is more upscale, and, generally, you can trust that the shops do not sell counterfeit and pirated items.
The above photo shows the rear entrance, directly from the Siam Skytrain station. Here is the main entrance from Siam Square:
Digital Gateway does not have a website. The opening hours for the mall are from 10 to 22 (10 AM to 10 PM), although the individual shops may have other opening hours.
Claustrophobic, exciting, lively, cheap, long, and hot. That is a few of the words that describe Chinatown Market. The market is located in the narrow and almost 1-kilometre (0.6 miles) long alley Soi Wanit from where it scatters into the crossing streets. Soi Wanit is also known as Sampeng Lane.
Here, you will fight with other people for every metre you move, and often the fight will include scooters and trolleys overloaded with goods.
Most of the shops sell wholesale; however, in almost all of them, it is possible to buy only one item of the goods, although at a higher price. Still, the prices are much lower than elsewhere in Bangkok.
Even if you do not want to buy anything, Chinatown Market is worth a visit. Check out this video to get an impression of the market.
For now, the closest train station is Hua Lamphong on the blue Metro line; from there it is a 1-kilometre (0.6 miles) walk to the Chinatown Market, which can be a bit too much for most people due to the heat. Taking a taxi will probably be the better choice; typically, a taxi will drop you off at Yaowarat Road, which runs parallel to Soi Wanit.
August 2019, the blue Metro line extends beyond Hua Lamphong, and the new station Wat Mangkon will be closer to the Chinatown Market, 350 metres (0.2 miles).
Chinatown Market does not have a website. The marked is opened 9 to 18 (9 AM to 6 PM). Please note that unlike the big malls, the market usually close on Thai holidays.
Chatuchak Weekend Market (JJ Market)
Chatuchak Weekend Market, often shortened to JJ Market (the name is pronounced Ja-dtu-jak), is Bangkok's biggest market, and one of the world's biggest weekend markets. The market spans an area of 11 hectares (27 acres) and contains more than 15,000 stalls and shops.
Here, you can buy almost anything your heart desire, be it clothes, Thai handicrafts, pirated goods, furniture, and even animals. The prices are reasonable, that is, if you do not accept the first giving price. Haggling is the name of the game here.
As the name suggests, Chatuchak Weekend Market is a weekend market; however, some parts of the market open all week. Friday is wholesale day, while on Wednesday and Thursday, you can buy plants and flowers. The opening hours are 6 to 18 (6 AM to 6 PM), although some stalls and shops don't open until 9 or 10.
Here's a video to give you an impression of the market:
Read more at Chatuchak Weekend Market's website. At the website, you can find a map which may help you find your way around the market; otherwise, if you get lost, you can aim for the clock tower which is visible from most of the area.
Terminal 21 is a 9-story mall with an airport theme; each floor represents a big city or a place with various well-known attractions. Here, you will find Rome with statues and fountains and London with a double-decker bus and a telephone booth. On other floors, you will find Paris, Istanbul, Tokyo, the Caribbean and Hollywood, while San Francisco gets two floors with Pier 21 and the Golden Gate Bridge.
With 450,000 square metres (4.8 million square feet) and more than 600 shops, Terminal 21 is one of the largest shopping malls in Bangkok. Located a bit from the other malls mentioned here, Terminal 21 is nonetheless easy to get to as a skywalk connects it with the Skytrain Station Asok. The Metro station Sukhumvit is across the street.
Read more at Terminal 21's website. Opening hours are 10 to 22 (10 AM to 10 PM).
Map of the malls and the markets
I have made a map at Google Maps locating the malls and the markets mentioned in this article. The map includes stations for the Metro and the Skytrain as wells as the piers used by the river buses and the canal buses. Below you can see the main shopping area in Bangkok; however, you will probably prefer to view a bigger version at Google Maps.