I promised you all a Bangkok Shopping guide based on my trip in January, and here is part 2! I spent one week in Bangkok in January 2015 and went shopping every single day I was there. I know Bangkok is often just a quick stopover rather than a final destination for many travellers, so it’s best to be organised if you are wanting to shop to get the most out of it. Today I’m going to give you a breakdown of the lower end malls and stores around central Bangkok, as well as the ever popular Chatuchak Markets.
♥ Lower end malls/stores
Just round the corner from the Siam area is the MBK Center – this mall claims to be the most visited in Bangkok and has seven floors packed with stalls and shops. Although each floor is supposed to have a theme e.g. fashion, electronics, it is still all a bit of a jumble. I strongly recommend the use of a map and taking note of where the escalators are. This is the perfect spot if you are looking for some little nick-nacks, replica handbags, souvenir t-shirts, cellphone accessories and about a billion other things because there is seriously so much stuff here. Although it’s a mall setting, MBK has a bit of a messy junk store feel to it on some levels and things can start to look all a bit the same. However it is definitely worth a look as long as you have time to cruise around the little hidden corners. People here are keen to sell and will always offer you a bargain/discount if your buying more than one thing from them.
Watsons is a pharmacy/chemist store which has a lot of beauty products at super affordable prices. These stores are almost as common as 7/11’s in Thailand, so it won’t be long before you come across one. Here you will find a great range of drugstore makeup and beauty products. I picked up a few of the Watsons brand products, including the pore strips you can see in the photo below and they are so insanely good – they also cost me less than a NZ dollar! Check out my Thailand beauty haul here!
The markets and mini shopping areas around the streets are great places to find a deal. The stall owners are friendly and they are really keen to make a sale. This is the place where you want to be bargaining before you buy, but don’t be a dick about it. Think of it as a bit of friendly banter and don’t get hard out into bargaining if you don’t even intend to buy it anyways – that’s considered rude. Over my Thailand holiday we bought a range of different things from stalls along the streets and little market places including souvenirs, soap, socks, snacks and other little bits and bobs.
The Chatuchak Markets are one of the world’s largest weekend markets, it’s 27 acres large and holds over 15000 booths. This place is insane! I highly recommend going early before it gets really hot and crowded. Also make sure you grab a map and take note of a landmark from where you have started so you know when you’ve done a loop of the outer circle. The markets are divided into different sections however it is pretty difficult to navigate your way around once you’re in the thick of it. I did a lot less shopping here than I expected, in my opinion it’s more of a cultural experience than a place for shopping.
Check out the “genuine replica” handbags, stalls stacked with second hand high top sneakers and get a cheap pair of full length fisherman’s pants – these are perfect if you are needing some lightweight modest pants for visiting the temples in the hot weather (most temples require you to have at least your knees and shoulders covered). My favourite and least favourite part of the Chatuchak Markets is the pet section. Although a lot of the underground animal selling has been stomped out (and for very good reason, sticky, hot and crowed markets are not the place for little puppy’s) there are still some cute animals to see and some amazing pet accessories. Never seen 30 squirrels sticking on a log wearing handmade knitted hats? Now’s your chance – No I’m not joking.
♥ Food courts and eating
One of my favourite food courts in Bangkok is inside MBK. Food island is a small food court that has small individual booths selling food from all over the world. You can grab sushi with a side of nann bread, a giant Chang beer and then have french crepes for dessert. It’s not super cheap considering street food prices in Bangkok, but it is still really reasonably priced.
People all have their own opinions on street food – for me, if I could watch it being cooked throughly in front of me then I had no concerns. Some of the most delicious food I had was straight off the grill out on the streets. Just use your common sense – if it’s been sitting there for hours don’t touch it. If you are avoiding ice watch out for fruit being stored in containers full of ice and go for the cut up fresh fruit protected in little plastic bags.
♥ Random tips
♥ No, that isn’t the latest Naked palette. For the love of god don’t buy makeup from stalls on the streets – it’s all copies and it’s all not good for your skin or your health.
♥ Use a little common sense when heading out to the markets. You need to have a bottle of water with you and make sure your money is put away carefully.
♥ Make an effort and say “hello” and “thanks” in Thai – it makes the world of difference to the local people and it’s really fun to get into.
I’d love to know about your experiences shopping in Thailand and your favourite market spots! Share them below!