Bangkok, the vibrant capital of Thailand, has some wonderful mega shopping centres, ranging from knock off bargain markets where you can haggle for a good price, to the ultra-luxurious designer shopping centre where you can buy everything from Jimmy Choo shoes to a Ferrari, right off the floor. They are very large, and it is easy for the meandering tourist to get lost, thus wasting valuable shopping time in trying to work out where you are. The staff at our hotel told us that the two best, close by, shopping malls for us were MBK Centre, and Siam Paragon Centre.
So, armed with plenty of Thai Baht and a long shopping list, we set off in a taxi to go and shop, shop, shop!
MBK Centre is seven floors of shopping, entertainment, and restaurants. You need a map, and even then, you will get lost. Trust me. We entered MBK through the Tokyu Department Store, a very western department store reminiscent of Myer or David Jones. We were looking for something a little more ‘Thai’, and our budget was more aimed at bargains than standard items we could get back home.
We exited Tokyu through a back door, and entered the labyrinth that is MBK. Luckily, we entered on Floor 3, stumbling upon the area where real bargains and good quality goods can be bought. This area is called The Image, and is made up of market stalls selling very cheap clothing, footwear, bags and jewellery. The stallholders in this area are more than happy to bargain, although some of the prices were so cheap that there was really no point. The conversion rate between Thai Baht and the Australian Dollar was 1 THB equals 31cents Australian. In other words, a polo shirt selling for 99 THB was only $A3. I found some fabulous clothes for my grandchildren, really nice, really cheap.
The stallholders here are happy, not pushy, and you get an extra discount if you happen to be their first customer of the day. I loved the way they would take your money, then go and touch it on all their goods in the shop. Apparently it brings good luck to them if they do this when you are the first customer. My travelling companion bought some really good quality designer shorts that he can’t get in Australia for a good price, satin Thai Boxer shorts, shirts, Calvin Klein and Dolce and Gabbana jocks. I managed to get a lined Abercrombie and Fitch hoodie for my daughter for about $40 Australian.
We eventually tore ourselves away and went to level four which is a massive floor of electronics, cameras, mobile phones. All the big brands. I am not sure of how good the deals were as I had not researched the prices in Australia, but I did buy a great set of headphones for $A20. There are designer shops, bespoke hand carved furniture stores, exquisite jewellery stores. We explored every floor, but our feet and legs were crying out in pain.
- Work out what you want and research the prices at home before you leave
- Get onto the web site and become familiar with the layout of the place
- When you first arrive, go to one of the Information booths and get yourself an MBK Tourist Discount Card for even better deals (you’ll need your Passport), and you can also get a free welcome drink of Thai Iced Tea on Floor 5
- Take a backpack or something to carry all your purchases (they get heavy after a while), although there is a bag deposit on Floor 6 where you can unload some of the weight
- When bargaining, ask how much, then offer half price, and negotiate a price up from there
- Put a currency converter App on your smartphone. Makes it so much easier to work out if you have a bargain or not
- Finally, wear comfortable footwear and take a bottle of water. It’s hard work shopping!
Siam Paragon Centre is a magnificent, opulent centre which has all the designer stores anyone could want. With seven levels, this Centre needs at least one full day, possibly two, to explore it properly.
|You could run into absolutely ANYBODY at Siam Paragon Centre - my friend Brittany Spears|
At Basement level, you will find the Siam Ocean World, an underwater fantasy that would rival anything Disneyworld could offer. Next level is totally dedicated to gourmet food! The Main Floor at street level is where you will find the luxury stores such as Cartier, Bvulgari, Burberry, Chanel, Hermes, Armani – oh the list is endless. Go to their website and have a look.
The Siam Paragon Centre is probably the most glamorous and luxurious shopping centre I have ever seen. Alas, we didn’t buy anything here, just window shopped, so not sure if there is any bargaining to be had. I doubt it. But the prices would still be a lot cheaper than at home. There is also an Imax Cinema complex, restaurants, Madam Tussaud's Waxworks, and family entertainment. Check it out!
Chatuchak Weekend Market is the largest weekend market in Asia and is easily accessed by public transport, including the Bangkok Skytrain. Next time I visit Bangkok I will make sure I am there on a weekend, as it was disappointing that I didn’t get to visit this trip.
With 15,000 stalls spread over a huge 27 acres, Chatuchak Markets boast that it is the place where you can find absolutely everything. Bargaining for the best price is expected, and they say that tourists will be given ‘local’ price. Worth testing.
The markets are open from 6am to 6pm on Saturdays and Sundays.
We felt we bought some real bargains and have decided it would be worth visiting Bangkok annually to stock up on new clothes. The prices are just unbeatable, and the quality very high. Shopping therapy at its very best!