If there is a phrase that fits Bangkok shopping it has to be: Shop Till You Drop! It’s that good for professional shoppers and even better if you’re looking for a bargain.
Keep in mind that Bangkok’s shopping centers include the very finest in brand names and Bangkok’s outdoor shopping districts have everything under the sun, and sellers willing to haggle.
Bangkok is a manufacturing hub for many textile products and cheap cloths can be had for an easy price. Shirts, trousers, hats, shoes, dresses, blouses, bras, panties, underwear, casual wear, formal wear, sports apparel, scarves, gloves and any other western style fashions you desire are here to be purchased and taken home. And that’s not including all the Thai style products available for purchase, which include silk; as well as shirts and dresses made of silk; hand crafts, including wood carvings, paintings and sculpture; consumer products, including sundry products of every variety, watches, clocks, board games, sunglasses, cutlery, luggage; and Thailand is also an excellent to shop for every nick-knack known to man.
But there is more to find buy in Bangkok. An antique market has grown up in recent years and many specialty shops are devoted to rare and hard to find items. Also, gems, gold and jewelry can be purchased at competitive prices in Bangkok. But here, please beware. Scams of every variety center around the precious stones market and buyers are vigorously cautioned to please know what you are buying before you pull out your cash or credit card!
OTOP – One Tambon, One Product
Thailand has fashioned much of its craft style manufacturing into sections. The goal is to encourage tambons or villages to join together on one product. The OTOP, or One Tambon, One Product system is the manifestation of that idea. Villages produce their one product, which is sold locally in their provinces and shipped to larger cities and even around the world. OTOP shops pull all these products together under one roof. OTOP shops can be found throughout Bangkok and throughout the country. It’s an easy destination for visitors who want to shop for Thai style products under one roof.
Street Bargaining Tips
Now, before heading to one of the premier shopping malls in the very heart of Thailand’s capital, walk right down the streets of Bangkok and see what the sellers are offering. You might just find everything you need at a price you, yourself, name!
But first remember these of tips on curbside haggling. The first quoted price you get will undoubtedly be at least double what the seller will take and sometimes many times more than that. Tourists are often an easy mark for experienced street sellers and so the prices start high. If you sense a little gouging, don’t take it seriously. The trick to getting your price is patience and a cool demeanor. Thais respect a cool, friendly persona. When counter offering, remember to smile. But if you know the value of the products that have your interest, stand firm and be willing to walk. If your price is fair, you’ll most certainly get it as you walk away.
Bangkok shopping can easily be broken into two categories: indoor shopping and outdoor shopping. The difference, though not always, is that at outdoor markets the prices are not set. That being the case, let your ability to strike a bargain guide you on “how much.” Please note the above tips noted in the previous section.
Instead of providing a laundry list of outdoor markets, let us guide you through what you can expect from these type of shopping destinations.
First, it’s gonna be hot. Bangkok is hot and when you are outdoors, you’ll be hot right along with the city. The key is arriving early in the morning or, going to those markets open at night. For example, the Chatuchak Weekend Market is open early on the weekends, so if you’re serious about making purchases before the crowds and heat settle, go early. However, at Chatuchak, much of the market is covered by awnings and tarps, so direct sunlight may not always be a problem. But keep the heat in mind. Now, along the lower areas of Soi Sukhumvit, near Nana Plaza, evening shopping is the ticket. Along either side of the wide Boulevard, sellers market their wares through the evening, some until midnight and beyond. It’s much cooler and so the bargaining can proceed at a more leisurely pace.
The outdoor market scene is also a great place to watch the blending of cultures and ethnicities. Everyone is looking for a bargain, so everyone makes it to the outdoor markets to find one. They get crowded in the hustle and bustle. Be prepared for a little jostling as you make your way through the endless stalls of products.
Also, take note that where people come to shop, people come to eat and there’s always something to nibble on. Foods of all varieties are cooked, packaged and sold. Cold water and soft drinks are always within easy reach.
Bangkok has really become a premier shopping destination in Asia, and not just for the street side bargains. High end shopping malls have sprouted into the mix, giving those seeking designer brand names a place to spread around their cash. The newest addition is the grand mall called Siam Paragon. Fashioned with every expensive taste in mind, Siam Paragon’s cool confines host a who’s who of top end brands. It also is home to a spectacular Aquarium. Other shopping malls abound, many just off the Sky Train. The include MBK, The Emporium, Siam Discovery Center, and Ekamai Mall. Not all of these are on the grand scale of Siam Paragon, but they may be more in your budget. Many feature complete grocery stores as well as hugely popular food courts with countless dishes.
For the tech head, head to Pantip Plaza. This shopping joint is one big technological warehouse, featuring computer products, electronics, gadgets, DVDs, CDs, and a host of odds and ends to fill your home or office.
For more on shopping in Bangkok, check out this link to the Bangkok section of Thaivisa.com.