While I’m on vacation, I admit that shopping is not one of my favorite pastimes. I would rather spend my time working out in the gym, running some laps around the park or reading a sexy novel while sunning myself out on the pool deck. For me, shopping is sort of a job and I only do it out of necessity, although I admit to enjoy looking at the latest books and english language magazines in the local bookstore. I don’t want to sound like a chauvinist, but shopping is primarily a lady’s pastime. That being said, I will relate to you some of my experience with shopping and shopping malls in Bangkok, Thailand.
Shopping seems to be the most popular pastime in this large Asian metropolis; and on the weekends especially, it seems that everybody who has had a paycheck (and their mother) is out shopping. In Bangkok, there is more square footage of shopping malls per square mile than anywhere else I’ve ever been. Most of the shopping malls are large multistoried structures that seemingly occupy several city blocks as opposed to the low-rise two level affairs that I am accustomed to in Northern California. I admit to have visited a few, namely the jigsaw puzzle known as Siam Center, the humongous but rather homely MBK, the ultra-chic Emporium and the huge, tacky electronic bazaar of Panthip Plaza.
In addition to the traditional shopping malls, there is the Night Bazaar, sort of an indoor flea market that it is only open at night and Chatuchak Market, an immense, sprawling market (most of the concessions are indoors), where you’ll find everything under the sun for sale from flowers, handicrafts, wood carvings, tourist souvenirs and T-shirts to furniture, tea sets, ceramics, jewelry and beads, live dogs, cats and snakes. Open from Friday afternoon thru Sunday, Chatuchak is so huge that it is so very easy to get lost. You’ll definitely need a map of the whole complex, though even with a map, you may still lose your orientation. On the weekends, JJ , as Chatuchak is affectionately known by the locals, is like “a sea of humanity” as it seems that all of Bangkok is there. I know that’s physically impossible, but at least 50% of Bangkokians are there, while the other 50% are shopping at MBK (short for Mah Boon Krong) or some of the other shopping centers. MBK is probably the least glamorous of all the shopping malls in Bangkok but for the savvy shopper this is the place to go if looking for some real good bargains. An eight story marbled structure with over 2500 shops and concessions, MBK is like a self contained city. It’s a monstrousity! One time, I went to MBK Center on a Saturday to visit the Pathuwan Princess Hotel (which adjoins MBK). The place was so congested with shoppers, I had to weave in and out of ‘the human zoo” like a darting halfback (football running back) in order to make it to the hotel located at the far end of plaza. Touchdown!
In addition to the shopping malls, the Night Bazaar and JJ, everywhere on the streets of Bangkok, there are a whole slew of vendors selling a diverse potpourri of goods including sunglasses, watches that don’t work, pirated CDS’s, cell phones, knockoff jeans, tourist knickknacks, T-shirts, belts, sandals, scarves, flowers, costume jewelry etc, etc
The Emporium, located on the Upper Sukhumvit in the heart of the Tourist Zone (and adjoining the BTS Skytrain at the Phrom Phong station) is perhaps the most gaudy and upscale shopping mall in Bangkok. Laid out like caracole (snail), navigating in this multistoried shopping plaza can sometimes be very confusing especially if you’re trying to find the exit out onto the street or to the Skytrain. There are many highbrow stores inside selling fancy western clothes and accessories at somewhat outrageous prices, overpriced coffee shops and art deco restaurants as well as specialty stores selling electronic goods, women’s cosmetics and perfume. Hint - If you’re looking for an affordable place to eat, try the Food Court at the Emporium. Prices aren’t too bad and they have a decent selection of Thai and Asian specialties as well as pizza, hamburgers, hot dogs, french fries and other western dishes. In the middle of the mall, there is even an Internet café. It seems that whenever I go there, there is always some loud, thumping disco or hip-hop music playing and it drives me crazy. The only redeeming quality about the Emporium, in my humble opinion, is that it is a great place to go watch the girls go by. There are some real stunners who shop there and some of the salesgirls are real eye candy. Coming up next, my shopping ordeal at Panthip Plaza.
Sphere: Related Content