In the Land of Smiles, shopping winners are grinners. In one of the best cities on the planet for shopping from high-end boutiques to dusty flea markets, Bangkok is ready to relieve you of your baht.
When you want to visit a bustling Thai night market, but you want it to be clean, air-conditioned and fun for the whole family, check out Asiatique The Riverfront. A combination of a traditional night bazaar and a modern mall, sleek Asiatique offers shopping, dining, live entertainment, rides for kids and Bangkok’s version of the London Eye, Sky Asiatique. Located directly on the river, the complex has become a popular destination for tourists and locals who turn a visit into a leisurely night out. Look out for stalls selling Thai-made spa and beauty products, many of them made with coconut oil and fragrant Asian flowers. There are several spots where you can indulge in a foot massage or facial if shopping fatigue sets in.
There is no shortage of good food at Asiatique, but for a different perspective hop on the AVANI Riverside Bangkok hotel’s long tail boat at the Asiatique pier. Head to the hotel’s glamorous rooftop bar and restaurant, Attitude, where you’ll enjoy dreamy river views and an inspired cocktail list.
Pray for cool-ish weather if you’re headed out to Chatuchak Weekend Market. Open Saturday and Sunday, this sprawling covered market of 8,000 stalls is not air-conditioned and the heat really builds as the afternoon wears on. Go early and bring plenty of cash to buy all the things you never knew you needed. Clothes, shoes, bags, homewares, cosmetics, kitchen goods, pets, jewellery... if you can think of it, they probably sell it here, at lower prices than you’ll find at other markets in the city.
Easily reached by public transport, Chatuchak is very popular with locals. We think the original art section is worth seeking out to support the artists and take home a one-of-a-kind souvenir.
Cafes in the market sell overpriced, mediocre food to tourists. Instead, head to nearby Chamlong Asoke’s Vegetarian Club, one of the best vegetarian food courts in Bangkok. Here you’ll find Thai fruit shakes, faux meat skewers and Thai staples including fried rice and stir-fried noodles.
It’s A Mall World
It’s easy to see why millions of tourists fly to Bangkok each year to spend days wandering the city’s network of modern malls. Designed to entice you in and keep you wanting more, the malls are multi-level temples of temptation, with a wide array of international brands and local designer stores. For convenience, start in the Sukhumvit neighbourhood, where Terminal 21 pays homage to great cities of the world over themed levels of shops and restaurants.
Next wander to massive MBK, one of Bangkok’s older malls, where clothes and electronics are cheap and cheerful. You’re well-placed then to check out the three faces of Siam: Siam Center, Siam Discovery and Siam Paragon, modern shopping centres with global appeal. There’s no better time to visit than during the Amazing Thailand Grand Sale season, 15 June-15 August. Expect to see prices slashed by up to 80 per cent, as the citywide sales take effect.
Bangkok mall food courts are a symphony of scrumptiousness, a global feast of tasty bites from the pan-Asian kitchen and beyond. Many of them operate on a cashless system, meaning you pre-load a swipe card with cash before making your fresh selections. Ten bucks goes a long way.
Antiques And Art
A Bangkok shopping expedition in search of antiques, art and religious artifacts once involved fossicking through dank old shopfronts in Chinatown to turn up items of dubious provenance. Praise then to the developers who have brought us River City, a swanky shopping complex on the Chao Phraya River, where respected antiques dealers and artists display their wares under one roof. While not yet at full capacity (read: there are several retail spaces awaiting tenants), River City does what it does well, with quality art and relics from the South East Asia region. This is the place to buy antique Buddha statuettes, Japanese scrolls, Tibetan prayer beads and decorative masks from northern Myanmar. Offering premium items with price tags to match, River City attracts a well-heeled crowd of collectors. Antiques auctions are held here monthly. The best way to arrive is by boat to the complex’s own riverfront jetty: several hotels, including The Siam, offer a complimentary water shuttle service for guests.
Keep your shopping game strong with a caffeine hit from one of the coffee shops within the complex. Or sit back and enjoy the views over a delicious meal at one of the waterfront restaurants with outdoor terraces.
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