Whether you’re a luxury shopper or a bargain babe, this quick, handy, and more importantly, local guide, might just help you how to navigate around the shopper’s paradise that is Bangkok.
By Zipporah Gene.
A trip to Bangkok, often described as the “Shoppers Shangri-La,” always inevitably ends with one or two (or three) steals tucked away in your suitcase. With an endless array of stalls, malls, and market halls catering for all tastes and needs, you’ll find the perfect mix of luxe and local, high-society and bargain bins here.
Whether you’re shopping for mementos, splashing out on something decadent, or stocking up your larder with some exotic homegrown produce, there’s definitely a never-ending stream of night-markets, pop-ups, and mega-malls to please and appease. With so much on offer it’s not surprising then, that to the untrained eye, it can all prove to be just a little overwhelming.
Here’s a quick, handy, and more importantly, local guide, by a seasoned shop-a-holic on just how to navigate this concrete paradise.
1. Know Your Terrain
Do you know the best way to get around? The difference between Siam and Sala daeng? Your BTS from your MRT? Lack of planning can lay waste to any endeavor and as any experienced local shopper knows, to find the best bargains, you need to get to as many places as possible. If the proof is in the pudding, then let’s just say that Bangkok’s is a sticky, congested, traffic-laden tiramisu of malls and automotive mayhem – don’t get caught out!
Knowing how to beat the gridlock means you can cram more sights in trip.
The best ways to avoid the traffic are the sky train (BTS), underground (MRT). Most of the best places to shop are either at the BTS/MRT stops, or are simply a walkable distance. For everything else there’s still always taxi, motorcycle taxi, uber, etc.
Tips for the luxury shopper: If you’re new and strapped for time, start at the heart. Bangkok’s Siam Paragon (1 991/1 Rama I Rd) is centrally located and the perfect place to start browsing. Open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., this mall — one of Asia’s biggest–has everything you need by way of the big fashion houses. There’s even a state-of-the-art cinema, aquarium, and an impressive food court all worth the waltz.
Tips for the bargain babe: If perfectly manicured concessions aren’t your thing, then simply walk across Siam BTS station to MBK Center (444 Phayathai Rd, Pathumwan). Crammed to the teeth with over 2,000 stalls you can find everything here from souvenirs, second-hand cameras to surf gear and best of all – it’s at bargain prices. Best of all they are open to a little bit of friendly haggling.
2. Be Patient
Just because you can’t find what you want doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Although the language barrier can be a hindrance on occasion, Thai shop assistants (for the most part) seem to posses an inexhaustible storehouse of patience; you’ll be surprised at the lengths they’re willing to go to help you.
Tip: Every mall, pavement and side road, has one or two vendors selling coconut juice. For this not-quite used to the heat, Bangkok can take its toll on both the body and the brain; staying hydrated is a must and can be the difference between flustered and full blown meltdown.
You’ll regret leaving without trying the local Thai iced tea (cha dum yen), brewed to perfection and served cold, it really does the trick.
3. Size Up
Now before you go loopy from the bargains be sure to check that the items actually fit you properly. Not many people realize this but Thai sizes are comparatively different. Just because a shoe says 41 on it, does not necessarily mean it is an EU 41. Nothing’s worse than returning home, to find that all that you’ve bought has to now be ‘gifted’ away. Luckily, all of the high-end malls and stores have changing rooms, however the lower end stalls don’t; so be very sure before you purchase anything.
Tips for the luxury shopper: Many of the stores actually offer an alteration service; so if you find what you want, but it doesn’t quite fit, simply ask for it to be altered. This may take one or two days and may or may not incur an additional fee (depending on the store).
Tips for the bargain babe: Most stall owners, especially if they make all the clothes themselves, carry a measuring tape – religiously. Rather than risking it by sight alone, ask them to measure both you and the piece of clothing.
4. Haggle versus Hassle
Whatever your stance on the subject matter, there’s no denying the fact that – everyone likes a good bargain. The satisfaction of getting what you want, at a cheaper price is a rush like no other. Even though the major stores don’t allow for haggling, there are plenty of incentives available, and most are happy to tell you as soon as you walk in. Just in case, there’s the duty free rebate, visitor’s offer off, store event offer – basically, you’d regret not inquiring.
When dealing with stalls and the like, the trick is to always purchase more than one item. When doing so, ask for the wholesale price and you’re sure to snag something even cheaper than you expected.
Tips: Fortune favors the bold so do some research beforehand and arm yourself with some knowledge of store events. The major malls like: Centralworld, Siam Paragon, Emporium and Terminal 21, host tons of events all-year-round sometimes with added benefits like nibbles or product sampling.
5. Eat, Pray, Shop… and Relax
Whatever you decide, remember to have fun and enjoy the moment. If you have time, head to Emquartier (651 Sukhumvit Rd/02 269 1188). This futuristic, multi-million baht complex stands just opposite the popular Emporium shopping mall.
Accessible from Phrom Phong BTS station, just to view this impressive design is worth the visit alone. Hosting all the usual names in luxury retail, the mall is home to dozens of restaurants, cafes, offices and even houses an atrium, complete with a working waterfall. You can spend days here, wining, dining and still barely only scratching the surface. It’s currently the hottest place in town, so why not head there yourself and make your mind up.
Known for watches that have been the top choice in the market, Thailand now introduces Fossil bags for men and women. Well-tailored and stylish in design, Fossil handbags and backpacks for 2016 summer collection are made to match with the watches.
More info: 02 613 1190 or visit the store at CentralWorld, 1st oor, Atrium Zone.