To say that there is a lot of shopping in Bangkok would be an absurd understatement. From street markets and stalls with designer knock-offs and tourist paraphernalia, to enormous malls featuring a wide range of designers and brands, this city has it all. The only problem is knowing where to go to get what you need.
When you first move into your apartment, visits to large supercenters like Big C or Tesco, as well as trips to grocery stores, will be a good starting point to pick up basic necessities such as toiletries, cleaning supplies and household items, and as you begin to settle in, you will undoubtedly begin to discover your own favorite stores and malls. Depending on the type of shopping experience you enjoy, you will want to explore different parts of the city.
Similar to WalMart (USA) or Marks & Spencers (UK), both have a wide selection of products and can be seen as a one stop shop. Though they are mostly geared towards locals, many staples can be bought for lower prices and they offer to deliver directly to your door.
- Big C (closest branch: Rama IV, Fortune Plaza and throughout town)
- Tesco Lotus (closest branch: BTS On Nut, Rama IV, Fortune Plaza and throughout town)
Smaller than the supercenters, these supermarkets are more boutique and were Bangkok’s answer to meet the demand for international supermarkets when the only option was open air markets. They cater mainly to expats and stock many imported goods and will have seasonal items such as turkeys for thanksgiving. They will also deliver to your home except for Gourmet Market & Foodland, though the latter has an 24 hour onsite diner .
- Villa Market (Sukhumvit Soi 11 & Sukhumvit Soi 33/1)
- Tops (Sukhumvit Soi 19, in the basement of Robinson’s and on Sukhumvit Soi 41) – Also found in all Central owned shopping malls
- Foodland (Sukhumvit Soi 5 & 16)
- Gourmet Market (Sukhumvit Soi 19, in the basement of Terminal 21) – Also found in The Mall owned shopping malls (Emporium, Emquartier, Paragon)
Home furnishings and supplies
- Ikea The world famous Swedish design center can truly be considered a one stop shop as they have almost everything you can think of. It is located a fair distance away near Mega Bangna so a day trip is advisable.
- Index Living Mall (Two relatively easy-to-reach locations near the school: one at BTS National Stadium in MBK Center and one at Ekkamai BTS about mid-way down soi 63)
- Central Department Store Chidlom branch (BTS Chidlom Exit 5)
- HomePro (BTS Ploenchit) – Good for hardware (light switches, light fixtures, lamps, door knobs, paint, etc.) and other DIY materials, but also has a selection of furniture, organizers and electronics.
Local Food Markets
Klong Toey market is the closest wet market where you can pick up fruit, vegetables, etc. at the cheapest rates. You can get there using the MRT (Khlong Toey station) and it is where many of your housekeepers will do your shopping for you if you ask them to.
Chatuchak Weekend Market (also called JJ Market as it is pronounced “Jatujak” in Thai) is arguably Bangkok’s most famous market. Recommended for the experience in and of itself as well as for its variety of cheap clothes, Thai handicraft, paintings, furniture, etc. This weekend market is located on Vibhavadi-Rangsit Road. Be aware that Chatuchak is usually very crowded and can also get very hot, so please beware of your valuables and be sure to stay hydrated. Go early in the morning to avoid the crowds!
- Asia Books has any branches throughout the city as well as a good stock of English language books.
- Kinokuniya Many branches throughout the city, including Emporium and Siam Paragon, with good stock of English language books (often much better stocked than AsiaBooks just because the stores are much larger)
- Books@53 – Sukhumvit Soi 53Approximately 150 yards from the corner, just past Bangkok Prep School. This book store hosts a monthly book club on the last Wednesday of the month Books@53 has a good selection of children’s book and a large selection of educational books (although the later cater to the British curriculum). The staff will happily order any in print books from overseas at your request.
Shopping Recommendations from Staff members:
- Sky & Jonathon (from UK – both Toni & Guy trained and good prices) Soi Ekamai, 0895053795
- Franck, Soi 31 02 258 7306 (BTS: Phrom Phong)
- Toni and Guy, Siam Discovery (BTS: Siam)
- Sachai, Soi 26 02 260 9213
- Vivo, On Sukhumvit, corner of Soi 12 next to Leader Price, 02 6532928 (BTS: Asok)
- Johnny Live, Soi 23, 07 105 1614 – you can enjoy a cold beer while he cuts your hair (BTS: Asok)
Mr. Sook at New Universal Jewelry is a little out of the way (over by the Oriental Hotel) but certainly worth a mention due to the fact he has made some great jewelry to specification for a number of NIST staff. The shop is completely unassuming and it is only when you go in and ask that you will be taken to a room at the back and explain what you are looking for and he will create at a very reasonable price.
1144-46 New Road (Chareonkrung), Near General Post Office, Bangrak, Bangkok, 10500
Tel: 02343514/ 02336206
Linen is really expensive in the department stores (even when in the sales). So here is two options advice:
- Green Cotton is a shop located on the first floor of the Ploenchit centre (which is found next to Sukhumvit Soi 2). There is also now one on the 2nd Floor in the Amarin Plaza (on Ploenchit Road found in between BTS Chitlom and Siam stations). These are cotton sheets made without chemicals – they are not dyed so are a nice light cream colour. They feel lovely are good value for money I have received many recommendations.
- There is also a lady (Khun Jun) at Chatachuk (JJ) Market who will make sheets to order in a range of colours at a great value for money.
Born Bed Sheet – Section 14 Chatachuk (JJ) Market (On the Nancy Chandler map this corresponds with the word Jackets). Telephone 0832936601/ 0813417820. She will also come over to your house to show the selection and measure sizes.
Hieng Yoo Huat Fabric Store, Sukhumvit Soi 16 (corner of Asok), 02 229 4544-6
Chinatown – Yaowarat Road and Sampeng Lane
Additional Shopping Recommendation from Pia
There is a shopping mall called “Seacon Square” where pretty much the whole 3rd floor is filled with furniture stores. All kinds of styles mixed, big and small stores and decently priced (I bought a huge lounge chair for 12,000 Baht). I think a lot of the stuff is made to order, this is definitely the case with wooden furniture at Podium, so that you can actually change measurements and designs if you want to.
Easiest way to get there is to take the BTS to On Nut and get into a taxi (costs about 100 Baht to get there). My taxi driver new Seacon Square, it is located on Sarinkarin (or something very similar) Rd.
Bangkok boasts an astounding number of shopping centers, ranging from small boutique malls to sprawling complexes that feature the latest fashions and high-end sports cars. While the greatest concentration of these malls are along Sukhumvit, many others can be found throughout the city, including the tourist-oriented MBK Center, the IT heaven Pantip Plaza, the luxurious Esplanade, the side-by-side rivals Paradise Park and Seacon Square, and the appropriately named Mega Bangna.
Most NIST teachers choose to live in close vicinity to the school, giving them easy access to several of the most famous shopping centers along the BTS line.
Siam Paragon is one of Asia’s most famous malls and was even the world’s most photographed location on Instagram in 2013. In addition to numerous brand-name stores, it features a large cinema, Bangkok Sea Life Ocean World (the largest aquarium in Southeast Asia), a Gourmet Market branch and much more. As the central BTS station, linking the existing lines, it is in close proximity to other malls, including Siam Center, Siam Discovery Center, CentralWorld and MBK Center.
Central World, the largest shopping mall in Thailand and one of the largest in the world, can be a maze for first-time visitors…and even for those who have been to it before! Two major department stores, Zen Mega Store and Isetan, have branches in it, and hundreds of other stores, shops and restaurants are spread throughout its eight stories. Like Siam Paragon, it also has a large cinema, the sprawling Central Food Hall grocery store, an ice skating rink and numerous other themed areas.
Terminal 21, immediately adjacent to the BTS station, is not as large as Siam Paragon or Central World. However, it has its own distinctive flair, with each floor designed to represent a particular area of the world such as Rome and San Francisco. Several of its areas also cater to boutique shoppers rather than focusing solely on name brands. Like most of the other malls, Terminal 21 does have a large cinema and a somewhat smaller Gourmet Market branch with a limited number of imported products.
Emporium is the older and smaller member of the new EM District, a group of shopping malls and attractions at the Phrom Phong BTS Station. Similar to Siam Paragon, and owned by the same company, it fits in the luxury niche and features numerous name brands. A small, lavish cinema and Gourmet Market branch occupy the top floors along with many restaurants, and other shops are spread throughout the mall.
As the newest member of the EM District, at least until the EmSphere opens in 2017, the EmQuartier is one of the most lavish malls in Asia. Divided into various districts, it towers above the surrounding area and includes a cinema with various speciality screens, a large Gourmet Market Branch, and a large range of shops and restaurants. Even the mall’s design is intended to impress and features a full waterfall cascading between the districts.
Significantly smaller than its counterparts higher along Sukhumvit, Gateway Ekamai is a niche mall focused on the Japanese market. It manages to distinguish itself in several ways with Snow Town (complete with artificial snow), a flight simulator, and the interactive live game Ticket to Mystery. Combined with a quieter atmosphere, it offers a different experience to the luxury malls.