Shopping along parts of the Suhumvit and Silom areas of Bangkok can be a serious affair for some people – with a number of patrons getting decked out in their finest. And of course there are always a number of dressed down camera toting tourists, expats and those people watching. It is not hard to shop till you drop in this town – although you won’t be dropping from the heat and humidity that this town is known for – as all the malls have excellent central air conditioning!
Shopping malls as with much of the other infrastructure in Bangkok constantly change retailers and department stores rotate brands almost faster than you can say Sawatdee Krap. As a result we often revisit some of the shopping areas listed below and provide updates to this section as necessary.
Note that Bangkok’s major shopping region is located in the Ratchaprason District located along parts of Sukhumvit Road. An elevated Skytrain walkway services several of the malls in this part of town. Visit: www.ratchaprasong.org for more information.
Note that the major malls listed below all have their own security and metal detectors that you walk through. If you have large bags you may be required to open them to show the security guard. Also note that most of the malls listed below have their own “food courts”. During holidays or other special events – often the malls will have interesting decor inside or other on site entertainment.
And lastly, while somewhat rare based on all the time we have spent shopping in Bangkok sometimes we have been approached by strangers either in the shopping malls or near the malls (sometime in the vicinity of the skytrain) with the intent on scamming us. Their stories have ranged from creating an elaborate hoax about just being robbed and needing money to those telling us they moved to Thailand to seek asylum – and are in desperate need of money.
Also visit our Jewelry Shopping section here
All Seasons Place is a prominent business center that is home to condominiums, offices, the Conrad Hotel and a three story shopping center – located on the lower floors of the tallest and most central building in this complex. All Seasons Place is located at 87 Wireless Road, Phatumwan – about a 10 minute walk from the closest skytrain stop of Ploen Chit.
This is a very clean part of Bangkok with less pedestrians then closer to the main shopping malls along Sukhumvit. A number of embassies are within close walking distance of this center. Shops here are not your most prominent name brands but offer a wide variety of items include gems, shoes, clothing and a few small restaurants. An Asia Books branch is also located here (for your in English reading needs). For more information visit: www.allseasonsplace.net/en/shopping-center
Amarin Plaza is a five story mall best accessed from the Siam or Chitlom stops on the Skytrain. An elevated Skytrain walk connects you to this and several of the other nearby malls. This is a very eclectic mall (easily recognized on the outside by its distinctive white columns) containing a variety of mostly non name brand hops ranging from tailors, a rare book store, clothing, a food court and a yoga/Pilates studio.
A decent food court is located on the 4th floor – as with other mall food courts you need to pay for coupons at the coupon booth. S&P maintains a small eatery/drink bar just outside the food court. Features over 300 shops including a variety of Thai arts and souvenirs in the Thai Crafts Market located on the third floor. Visit: www.amarinplaza.com
Central Chidlom focuses on mid level products rather than budget or luxury shopping. Not to be confused with the much newer Central Embassy. As far as Bangkok shopping centers/stores goes, this one is ancient – having first opened in 1973. Great selection of more affordably priced clothing than some of the more name brand nearby malls. Features a very good food hall (called the Food Loft) with both Thai and International cuisine – where you can watch chefs cook. Live music is often located in the Food Loft on Saturday evenings (7th floor, the top floor).
Skytrain stop: Phloen Chit (there is an entrance directly from the raised skytrain so you do not need to walk down to the street level). Over the years we have purchased a number of quality yet fairly affordable clothes here. Like nearby malls their primary hours are from 10am until 10pm – although during the end of the year holiday season they may stay open later. Visit: www.central.co.th/en/store/locations/central-chidlom/index.aspx
Central Embassy is a massive shopping center easily access from the closest Skytrain stop, Ploen Chit. There is a walkway directly connecting this shopping center with the skytrain, so you do no need to walk down the skytrain steps to the street level. Like other major malls in the area, they are open from 10am until 10pm daily.
The building itself is architecturally pleasing with its matte (sometimes gleaming) metallic exterior. The building is 37 stories of which 8 stories are dedicated to the retail shops. The Hyatt takes up the upper stories in this building. The inside is just as sleek looking as the outside, with its modern appeal. Approximately 150 high end shops are located inside as well as some specialty markets and dining options. For more information visit: www.centralembassy.com
Central World Plaza formerly known as The World Trade Center is located in Bangkok’s major shopping hub – just down the street from Siam Paragon & MBK. It is a shopping experience halfway between MBK and Siam Paragon (both listed below). By this we mean it is upscale, but not as much as Siam Paragon but its shops are more upscale than MBK which appeals to mass crowds. This major shopping complex is one of the largest in all of SE Asia – it underwent a major renovation in 2006. It is larger than the recently built Siam Paragon shopping center near the MBK mall.
This complex is an absolute “zoo” during holidays – the front of the complex is a great place to watch the fireworks on New Year’s Eve as well as listen to live music (sometimes by well-known Thai performers), & enjoy the beer gardens! Neat decorations grace the inside of the tall main section during specific holidays. In other words, it is a great place for crowds!
On the whole, Central World Plaza has a reputation for being a little more fancy than MBK. As a result, the prices here are generally higher than you will find at nearby MBK, but the quality of the items are typically higher.
Looking for a higher end alternative to the tourist, souvenir filled Paco MBK? A number of art and higher end shops featuring Thai products are scattered among the various floors and are a refreshing alternative to the nearby MBK souvenir shopping experience.
The upper floor features an impressive and dizzying array of food and is well worth visiting for the restaurants, fresh produce and a major supermarket featuring many International items.
An ice skating arena is open on the lower level – this is a nice place to sit down and escape the heat and humidity of the outdoors all the while listening to music and watching people circle the rink.
For more information about Central World Plaza visit: www.centralworld.co.th and view photos below:
Chamchuri Square is located at 319 Phaya Thai Road, with the closest public transportation stop, the Sam Yan metro stop located directly in front of the entrance to the shopping center (and directly connected to the shopping center). Chamchuri Square is a bit unique in that it is owned by Chulalongkorn University. It features an office tower, residential building and the shopping plaza.
As you enter the shopping plaza look for the digital directory – it is touch screen which makes locating various businesses quite easy. All shopping centers should have touch screen directories!
Features four stories of shopping, numerous retail shops, multiple bookstores including one from the university, several phone shops and many restaurants. For more information, visit: www.chamchuri-square.com
Emporium is located directly next to the Thong Lo Skytrain stop across from the EMQuartier shopping center. Because of both shopping centers proximity to each other – it is easy to visit each shopping center with a stop here.
This shopping center features upscale shops as well as a significant gourmet market and small adjoining restaurants. The focus of the food court here is not on Thai food but rather other Asian foods. Skytrain Stop: Thong Lo Visit: www.theemdistrict.com
EMQuartier is located directly next to the Thong Lo BTS skytrain stop and focuses on name brand luxury shops. This massive shopping center includes the main shopping center (12 stories) and a separate Imax theatre in a building next door.
The food court in the shopping building is located on the bottom floor – and features mostly Japanese foods rather than Thai foods as well as several dessert shops and drink stalls.
During holidays the area near the entrance to the EMQuartier shopping building often features displays and attractions and plenty of people milling about taking photos.
Skytrain Stop: Thong Lo Visit: www.theemdistrict.com
Erawan Bangkok a small luxury mall (compared to some of the nearby malls) and is connected via an elevated Skytrain bridge from either the Siam or Chitlom Sktytrain stops. It is also connected to the nearby Amarin Plaza via another elevated walkway. This mall focuses on a few shops containing Fashion & Accessories with a Wellness & Beauty Center and an Urban Kitchen. For more information visit: www.erawanbangkok.com
Esplanade Shopping Center is located directly next to the new Rod Fai Night Market. This is a seven story mall located directly above the Cultural Centre Metro (MRT) station. Come here in the evening for the indoor shopping and diversity of attractions and then pop on over to the next door night market for more shopping and eating.
Inside is contained an ice skating rink, a 26-lane bowling alley, a 12-screen theatre, and a 1,500 seat theatre for various musical performances (Ratchadalai Theatre). At over 100,000 square meters, not to big and not to small – really the perfect sized mall. The interior was designed by the same designer who was responsible for the work on the Emporium and Siam Paragon malls.
Gateway Ekkamai is a sizable shopping and entertainment center located directly next to the Ekkamai BTS Station. In fact there is a walkway directly connecting the shopping center with the BTS station. Often in the afternoons, that walkway will be filled with various outdoor vendors selling a variety of products – all lined up on the edges of the walkway.
Decorated with a somewhat Japan feel (faux cherry trees, Japanese restaurants) this unique center features some 6+ levels of shopping and some interesting features. Highlights include an IT zone, the Food Street (plenty of small restaurants) and Snow Town (for those who have never experienced snow, come here and play in the white stuff produced from a machine or rent skis or sleds – great for young kids and those who have never been exposed to snow before). Also Kidzoona at Molly Fantasy on the 5th floor offers a number of bouncy things, slides and other play toys for young children.
Flight Enthusiasts take note of the Flight Experience – a rather expensive offering which allows visitor’s to get behind the wheel of a flight simulator (various flight memorabilia are also sold here). Visit: www.facebook.com/gatewayekamai
Gaysorn Plaza is best accessed from the Siam or Chitlom stops on the Skytrain. An elevated Skytrain walk connects you to this and several of the other malls. Gaysorn is a luxury mall located across from the huge Central World Shopping area.
This is the heart of shopping in Bangkok and is one of only a number of large malls in the area. Name brands such as Gucci, Armani, Porsche Design and much more. We have been known to frequent several of the high end sunglass shops here! Very clean and fancy bathrooms as one would expect for a shopping center of this caliber. For more information visit: www.gaysorn.com
Mahboonkrong Center (MBK) is a very large modern shopping center in the heart of Bangkok. It is centrally located next to Siam Square and the National Stadium. There are many modern stores and restaurants located inside this covered shopping center. You can eat at Pizza Hut, Thai fast food restaurants as well as in the Thai food court which serves authentic good tasting Thai food. To experience the most crowds possible visit MBK on a Saturday night! MBK closes around 9:30pm most nights.The food court is well worth visiting even though the western stereotype about food courts in malls doesn’t exactly conjure up images of tasty food.
This stereotype is not justified for the MBK food court. Here you can sample authentic delicious Thai food from a variety of vendors. Some of the soups here are just as good if not better than what you will find from a typical street side vendor in Bangkok. If you like fruit shakes be sure to sample some in the food court. There are only one or two vendors that serve shakes, but you can mix and match and come up with an exotic array of fruit. Did I mention the prices for these are under a $1? Nice.
A more recently installed international cuisine section of MBK is located on the 5th floor. This is typically not nearly as crowded as the Thai food court but offers additional selection including western, Italian and Japanese food. The prices are much higher than the Thai food court. We’ve eaten here also several times and the food is excellent, even the Greek Restaurant! Unlike the coupons you buy at the Thai food court, you enter this food court and are given a plastic card. when you make a purchase the vendor scans the amount owed to this card and you present the card at checkout for payment. Live music sometimes plays here. Note there is “kids zone” and a pool table in the back of this food section.
There is one section of MBK – mostly on the 4th floor where there are what seems like hundreds of small cell phone vendors. Its always interesting to walk through here, especially if you are in the market for a cell phone. Scattered about are supposedly “illegal” DVD vendors. Lately they will only display empty cases of DVD movies – and if you buy one, they will tell you to come back in 20 or 30 minutes while they burn it for you. I’m not sure how this really evades the authorities who sometimes frequent MBK.
Some of the cheapest prices for good quality Thai crafts and handi-works in Bangkok are available on the 6th floor of MBK at Paco MBK. Paco MBK was recently expanded and now the number and variety of stores has greatly increased. It is ok to bargain here at some of the stores – the prices are not set in stone and you will be surprised how much lower you can purchase an item from its original list price. If you have the time and are interested in certain items, shop around to find out what the lowest price the vendors will give you.
A large movie theatre is located on the top floor. Usually only major American movies are played here (movies that are already at least 2-3 months old in the USA). A salute to the King is played after about 30 minutes of commercials before the movie. At this point it is appropriate to stand. Good high speed Internet access is also available on this floor – on the opposite side of the floor – across the “central open space” that extends up through all the levels in this big mall.
One experience I had in MBK that you should be aware of in case it happens to you anywhere is the following: I was approached by what appeared to be a mother and her child. She spoke passable English and started telling me a story, all the while speaking quite rapidly. Without mentioning all the details of her story, she told me she was robbed of all her money, her passport, credit cards and all of her other important documents. She was unable to contact her embassy to get a new passport and she needed money for a plane trip back home. After listening for 10 minutes she finally pleaded with me to give her money so that she could buy a plane ticket back home. Something about the way she and her daughter acted and looked tipped me off that this might have been a falsified story and that this was a situation of “fabricated begging”. I’m not saying that this couldn’t have been a real story, but I’ve heard about people doing this to tourists just to try and get money.
A good central meeting place at MBK is on the silver metal colored bridge connecting the Tokyu Department store and the National Stadium Skytrain stop. This is the “god” of all urban meeting places in BKK and its where Dave and friends usually gather before traveling somewhere else or diving into the bowels of MBK. Be sure to meet near the Tokyu entrance so that you gain full advantage of their great air conditioning spilling out of the open doors. Also pick up the MBK magazine usually available near this entrance – coupons, info and other discounts to MBK stores.
Note: Bathrooms at MBK cost 1baht regardless of sex, however the department store Tokyu has their own free bathroom (much nicer than then ones in MBK). A good phrase to learn right off the bat for Thai travel is “hong nam yoo tee nai” which means, Where is the bathroom? Usually pointing will suffice for getting you moving in the right direction and then you can repeat the phrase again if you do not find the bathroom right away. Unlike other Thai phrases which are dependent on the tone of voice you use, in the author’s experience this phrase is readily understood by most Thai people. For more information about MBK visit their informative website: www.mbk-center.co.th
Pantip Plaza is usually extremely crowded and is located on Petchburi Road just down the street from the Embassy of Indonesia and the First House (not to be confused with The First House Hotel). If you are taking the Sky Train get off at the Ratchathewi Station on the Sukhumvit Line. This center is 5 stories full of computer vendors selling everything from computers, computer components, DVD’s, VCD’s and other computer hardware.
A word of caution: Be sure you know what you are really purchasing before you actually purchase it here. For example some DVD’s will not work on in certain computers. In the past, Thai Prime Ministers have cracked down on vendors selling illegal copies of movies, and software – so you may not find these sold here anymore. However when there is such a demand for such items its hard to squelch the flow. You can find many of these illegal items still for sale in the Pat Pong area near all of the strip clubs. I’m sure these items are also for sale in many other areas of Bangkok. Pantip Plaza just happened to be the most well known area for these items.
Also you may run into individuals offering drugs to the “farang” (Thai word for foreigners) in the back of the center on several of the upper floors. They were harmless – all you had to do was so “no” or in Thai, “mai ow.” At last check there was only one Internet Cafe in this center – located on the second floor. Internet access was about 30 baht per 1/2 hour.
The Computer Center is also located just down the street from Pantip Plaza and also sells computers and computer accessories.
Platinum Fashion Mall is located near Pantip Plaza at 542/21-22 Petchburi Road. 5 levels of shops, a huge food court and a parking garage make this a wholesome shopping experience. Compared to other major malls (Siam Paragon, MBK), mostly Thai’s shop here. There are over 1500 small shops and they sell wholesale and retail. Most of the shops are clothing related but there are some souvenir shops towards the upper levels.
The food court is rather extensive and fairly well priced. As with other area malls you first have to purchase coupons as each of the food vendors do not accept money directly. Platinum is also quite centrally located. Getting off at the Ratchathewi Station on the Sukhumvit Line of the Skytrain will get you within walking distance of this mall. Note that if you are with a shopaholic and you are not into shopping there are not many places to sit down in this mall – sometimes you can find some seating near the escalators on each level. Phone 02-656-5999 Visit: www.bangkokshoppingcenter.com
River City Bangkok is located along the banks of the Chayo Praya River (coming from the river, get off at Si Phraya Pier). The several numbered piers in front of the shopping center are the home to several dinner cruise ship companies. This shopping center contains a number of art stores – with some 60% of the tenants focusing on art and antiques.
Gleaming golden in the setting rays of the falling sun over the Chayo Praya River this shopping temple to arts and culture is certainly noticeable from the outside. Equally as impressive inside is the modern look and feel complemented by all of the art galleries. Features multiple levels of shopping. Dining can and should also be part of the experience of visiting; several restaurants and cafes located outside along the river walk serve a diversity of food. Also there is rooftop dining with excellent views of the river – both are happening places to be in the late afternoon and evening. See and be seen here for ultimate satisfaction.
The well regarded Co van Kessel Bangkok Tours is located on the back side of the shopping center (away from the river). well known for offering local bike tours.
A prestigious art and antiques auction is held once a month on site – their auction site is: www.riversideauctionhouse.co.th and for more information about the shopping center, visit: www.rivercitybangkok.com Plenty of parking on site in a multistory adjacent parking garage.
Riverside Plaza is a fairly new shopping center (opened in 2015) located near the Rama III Bridge, just down and across the river from Asiatique. The closest BTS Skytrain stop is Talat Phlu (a short taxi or motorbike ride from this Skytrain stop). The plaza is home to three levels of shopping and two luxury brand hotels, the Anantara Bangkok Riverside Resort & Spa and AVANI Bangkok Riverside. The shopping center is well laid out, clean and modern. Note the KIds Zone is located on the 3rd floor.
After you’ve done a bit of shopping head up to the rooftop bar and lounge on top of the AVANI. Great views of the Chao Praya River and Bangkok spread out along both her shores. Can be a bit breezier/slightly cooler then below to the height of the building.
For more information visit: www.riverside-plaza.com
Seacon Square is a massive shopping center (one of South East Asia’s largest) that encompasses over 180,000 square meters over seven levels – it includes more then 400 shops (both name brand as well as less-knowns stores) as well as entertainment options. Lots of IT shops (think Pantip Plaza – with computers and accessories galore) and an indoor amusement park. Also a mini-golf course, and a 14-theatre cinema. Not located in central Bangkok but rather closer to Suvarnabhumi Airport.
Plenty of clothing and fashion options as well. The 4th floor is a dedicated food court. Around 2 million visitors come here annually. Visit: www.seaconsquare.com
Siam Paragon – is a major shopping center focusing on current fashions and latest name brands – it is a sophisticated shopping center which opened in late 2005. They bill themselves as Thailand’s only “Mega Shopping Complex” and when you visit this huge massive mall you will quickly see why. International well-known shops, dining areas, Theatres, a gourmet market, Royal Paragon Hall, and Siam Ocean world are contained under one roof. Siam Ocean world is the largest aquarium in the Southern Hemisphere. For more information on this amazing attraction in its own right visit: www.siamparagon.co.th
Royal Paragon Hall is a gigantic exhibition and convention center – www.royalparagonhall.com
Often well-known chefs will be at Siam Paragon on the weekends offering classes and cooking tips. Siam Paragon is right next to the huge Siam Discovery Center. ( www.siampiwat.com )
You can walk from MBK (as mentioned above) – takes about 10 minutes – part of the walk is on the raised BTS Skytrain walkway. If you take the Skytrain to get here, get off at the busy Siam stop. For more information visit www.siamparagon.co.th
Siam Square One opened in 2014 and features a number of shops and restaurants including one of the popular Somboon Seafood restaurants (well hidden on the back of the 4th floor – although probably our least favorite of the Somboon Seafood branches in town). The layout of this shopping center isn’t as friendly as some of the other major centers in town and it has been slow to attract shoppers compared to when other major malls opened.
The center features six floors, four of which are named after the seasons of the year. A Starbucks is conveniently located close and on the same level as the skytrain. The closest BTS Station is Siam – there is a connecting walkway from this stop to the shops – or you can enter from the street level. It seems like it is always crowded in the vicinity of this mall, both on the street and in and around the Siam Square skytrain stop. For more information visit: www.siamsquareone.com
Times Square Office Tower is conveniently located on Sukhumivt between Soi 12 and the Asok BTS Station next to the Sheraton Grande Sukhumvit. A walkway from the station conveniently connects to this shopping center. Features four levels of shopping. Also a number of language schools here.
The Boots Pharmacy on site is quite popular. Features a few shops and restaurants – not nearly as visited as one of the more modern malls in the area.
Terminal 21 is located along Sukhumvit and is one of Bangkok’s newest and certainly premium shopping and fashion destinations. With more than 600 shops to choose from even the most hard core shoppers will find something intriguing here! Each floor is modeled after a major city on the globe including Rome, Paris, Tokyo, London, Istanbul, San Francisco and Hollywood.
Hey, with all the International competition, California is actually represented two times – not a bad showing! The San Francisco floor has all the restaurants and the Hollywood floor – of course contains a movie theater. Exit number one at Skytrain stop Asoke on the Sukhumvit line. There is a walkwalk directly from the Skytrain into this shopping center. And food lovers take note, the food court is one of the best in all of the malls in Bangkok – like other area mall food courts you exchange money for coupons and then give the coupons as payment. There is a huge diversity of Thai as well as international cuisines available here. Visit: www.terminal21.co.th
Yodpiman River Walk is a lengthy narrow complex of shops located right next to the Chao Praya River that opened in 2014. Conveniently located within walking distance of numerous attractions including the Grand Palace and Wat Po (about a 10-15 minute walk from Wat Po – we’ve made this walk several times).
Features two floors – the first level which is covered – numerous shops (Thai handicrafts and some fashion from Thai designers) and eateries and the well worth visiting open-air second floor with views looking across the river at Wat Arun. Like the rooftop at somewhat nearby River City happening place to be in the late afternoon and evening especially around sunset.
Located next to the Bangkok Flower Market (Talad Pak Klong) – you cannot miss seeing all the vendors lined up along both sides of the street here selling a diversity of flowers. This is Bangkok’s largest fresh-flower market. For more information visit: www.yodpimanriverwalk.com