Bangkok is well-known to be a shopping paradise for all kinds of stuff from clothes, accessories to even IT products – not only can you get whatever you want here but you can also get it at a cheap price (if you know how to bargain well). For some tips on bargaining, our previous post on “how to bargain in Hong Kong” also applies here.
To enjoy a holiday with the ultimate shopping experience in Bangkok, there are 3 key shopping areas to note:
- Pratunam Shopping Area;
- Chinatown (Sampeng Lane) Shopping Area; and
- Chatuchak (Jatujak) Weekend Market
We will cover just Pratunam and Chinatown in this post. The Pratunam area is well-known for its many shopping centres, open-air market and clothing wholesale distribution centres. Depending on your preference, you can get a wide range of stuff at different prices with very different shopping experiences all within walking distance of each other. Simply take a look at the map below and check out the number of ‘S’ symbols (which stands for shopping malls/markets).
Pratunam Wholesale Market
Located at the intersection of Ratchaprop and Petchburi roads, the Pratunam Wholesale Market is one of Bangkok’s major markets which sells clothes, shoes and fashion accessories at wholesale prices. This market is open as early as 8am and the busy periods when most shops are open and also when the crowds come in are usually from 11am to 2pm. This market is not for the claustrophobic as the shops are lined along small alleys – just when you thought that’s it for this market, another small alley comes up right around the corner offering more clothes and shoes.
You will find all kinds of clothes here from winter jackets, working attire, suits to even outrageous dancing sequined *bling bling* costumes. You can also pick up wallets, belts at reasonable prices – just don’t expect Armani, Gucci quality (even though the brand name seems to indicate so). The Pratunam Wholesale Market is located just beside Amari Watergate Hotel where Paul’s Fashion is located.
Platinum Fashion Mall
If you prefer shopping in brightly lit air-conditioned malls, just cross the Petchburi road – follow the locals when crossing the road as the cars and motorcycles don’t observe the zebra crossing – and you will find the relatively new shopping centre: Platinum Fashion Mall (most shops open at 11am). Here you will find mainly women’s clothing and fashion accessories spread out across 6 floors (Male fashion take up just one floor). The fashion sense here is quite updated and you might even find clothes here that have yet to make it to the blogshops in Singapore; blogshops are also known to source their clothes from here. This is a wholesale mall so don’t be surprised by the large number of shoppers who bring along huge trolley bags stuffed full with clothes from various outlets in the mall.
You can also get items at very reasonable prices – provided you buy in bulk, usually three items and up. The price you pay will be about 30% lower per piece. Some shops allow you to mix different types of items, for example, purses and bags, shirts and trousers. You will sometimes find 2 price tags on the same item – the lower one is the wholesale price; check with the shop assistants on what’s the wholesale price, how many items do you have to buy to enjoy this discounted price and can you mix different items to make up the numbers.
There are just 3 golden rules to note when shopping here and it is practised in almost 90% of the shops here:
- No Trying – you are not allowed to try on the clothes; The clothes might be stretched or soiled with multiple trying by walk-in customers; since the bulk of their business is retailers buying in bulk, such stretched clothings will not be “sell-able”.
- No Change – Same principle as above
- No Refund – As above. If you can’t even swap for another item, don’t bother about refunds.
If you are hungry or thirsty after a whole day of shopping, pop by the cafes located at the basement or the food court on Level 5 for a quick bite before continuing your shopping adventure in Platinum Fashion Mall. If you are planning to take a taxi from Platinum Fashion Mall, ignore the taxi stand and just hail a taxi off the road – the taxi queues are usually very long and you will be constantly pestered by taxi and tuk tuk touts waiting by the roadside. The metered taxi fare from VIE Hotel Bangkok to Platinum Mall or Pratunam Wholesale Market is only about 40 Baht.
Just a few metres away from Platinum Fashion Mall, you will also find Pantip Plaza which is well-known for its cheap IT accessories and counterfeit versions of software and DVDs. If you are looking for thumbdrives, DVDs, wireless mouse and keyboard, compare prices across different shops and bargain hard for the best deal.
Chinatown Sampeng Lane
Right across town on the other side of Bangkok lies Chinatown – another shopping + food paradise. It will cost about 160 baht (metered fare with no traffic jam) for a taxi ride from Platinum Fashion Mall to Chinatown Sampeng Lane. Here you will find all kinds of fashion accessories e.g. hair bands, scrunchies, clips at wholesale prices (but you will have to buy in bulk – 3 or more pieces). Not all shops here cater to walk-in customers and they usually have minimum orders for 50 or more pieces so unless you have plans to buy 50 hair bands, it’s best to stay away. Shops here close at 6pm so after a busy shopping day in Chinatown, you can check out the many roadside stalls offering seafood and Thai food at reasonable prices.
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