Why I love shopping in Bangkok

Catchy store display. Siam Center houses the RTW boutiques of the popular Thai designers.

First, and most importantly, there is something you can take home (or even hoard on) whatever your budget is. The price tags of the goods on the racks and shelves of the boutiques in Thailand can be friendly to both the thrifty shopper and the extravagant one, depending on which shop you step into.

Fashionistas and shopaholics will feast in the Big Mango. The city, and I will state with fearless conviction, is the go-to place for best (and the cheapest, again, depending on your preference) shopping in Southeast Asia (even if it dropped heavily down on the list of the World’s Fashion Capitals “due to the decline of civil order” the country went through). The offerings are wide, from the trendy clothes to quirky accessories, and the Thai fashion is updated and the designers, very talented and competitive.

Go to Siam Paragon, Emporium, Erawan, Zen in Central World, Gaysorn, a new mall called Central Embassy, to feed on your appetite for luxury brands and fashion labels. From Hermes to Louis Vuitton, Givenchy to Martin Margiela, Comme des Garcon to Roberto Cavalli, your designers of choice from across the globe are in this city.

Hermes show window at the Siam Paragon

For Thai designer finds, it will be on another level of almost all of the popular malls around Bangkok. Siam Center houses the RTW boutiques of the popular Thai designers and Terminal 21 is said to be where the budding designers kick off their fashion career, which may eventually land them a spot in the bigger playing field.

Club 21 Men is an upscale multi-brand store at Erawan

And, for the friendliest-on-your pocket fashion pieces, head to Pratunam. Platinum Mall is a byword for “prudent” shopping as well as the neighboring stores and pop up stalls in the vicinity that allow the shopper to amass on the season’s trend. Chatuchak is another popular destination. It’s where both locals and tourists enjoy the shopping spree on weekends, although there are several more shopping centers cropping up round the city like Asiatique and other night markets found on both sides of the Chao Phraya River.

Pratunam paradise. Platinum Mall across Glow Hotel is a popular spot for affordable fashion.
Platinum Mall shopping directory

Surprise finds inside Platinum Mall—Issey Miyake’s Bao Bao Bag knock-off.
A maze of fun. Get lost in Pratunam for great finds.
A new addition to Pratunam’s shopping choices.

I love the visual aesthetics of the Thais. It encourages everyone to shop. Teasers and season updates aren’t just posted in and by the stores, it lures in the shoppers via the humongous billboards—tarps and electronic— along highways and BTS Skytrain’s path, as well the pedestrian walkways. Chic set-ups and messages (from the subtle to screaming) send signals that “you want this” more than “you need this,” and “need” is a lot of times misconstrued with “want.” Go ask a junkie.

Visual merchandising along the Sky Walk.

And the junkies can’t rest because Bangkok is one fabulous host of fashion fairs. All year long, there is something always something brewing in some retail center—a promotion, sale, etc., that it can be unfair on your wallet.

Seen in one of Pratunam shopping halls

Accessibility is to all these destinations is A1. Thailand’s moneymaker is in its tourism industry and making sure the tourists part with their moolah, the city provides a good transportation system that can take the shoppers from one point to another with ease.

The BTS Skytrain is fast and the best way to go around the Big Mango avoiding the horrendous road traffic the city is known for, and not to mention, a cool escape from the Bangkok heat, short the ride to your destination may be. Furthermore, and along Sukhumvit Road, the elevated walkway between the train stations also links most of the best shopping malls in Bangkok. But if you prefer to move about on road level, hail for a tuktuk or a motorcycle taxi (be sure you know the on going rates or at least, fair), it can weave through the traffic and take alternate routes cutting travel time to a minimum.

The BTS Skytrain is the fastest way around Bangkok

Now, the places to stay while on your shopping trip, there are hundreds of hotels to choose from in Bangkok. Depending on what your needs dictate—budget, amenities, location, etc, there will be surely be several that’ll catch your fancy. Agoda.com, which I call my travel bible, lists numerous hotels from luxurious to budget accommodations and provides a good search engine to narrow down your choices.

In the recent visit to the Bangkok, I stayed at the Glow Hotel in the shopping mecca of Pratunam. The hotel sits atop the Shibuya shopping mall and across Platinum Mall making it convenient for shopping bags to be transported to home base, and it’s a short walk to Central World and Gaysorn malls.

Glow hotel sits atop the Shibuya shopping mall
The view from Glow Hotel’s suite– The Pratunam maze (above) & Platinum Mall (below)

Ad Lib, a homey yet modern boutique hotel, found a cozy and tranquil nook amid the bustling district of Sukhumvit. It’s near the Ploenchit and Nana BTS stations (complimentary Tuk-Tuk service available) and a nice place to “come home” to after chasing the great deals across Bangkok.

Ad Lib Hotel’s “public hall”

Search for Hotel Muse as well, a stylish mix of old world opulence with modern amenities in the affluent neighborhood of Langsuan (free tuktuk ride to the BTS Chidlom station); W Bangkok along the prestigious Embassy row is the epitome of modern Asian chic (walking distance to Chong Nonsi BTS station); and the legendary Mandarin Oriental, Bangkok by the Chao Phraya River where staying is an experience in itself (free houseboat ride to Saphan Tak Sin BTS Station).

Mandarin Oriental Bangkok

Muse Hotel

W Hotel

Last but not the least, pack little in a big suitcase and take a carry on luggage as well. For sure, you’ll be filling both to its capacity when you exit Bangkok.

From Davao to Bangkok, connecting flights are available via Philippine Airlines and Cebu Pacific Air. Choose the airline you feel comfortable traveling with.

For more travel & lifestyle stories, visit http://jeepneyjinggoy.blogspot.com/ and http://apples-and-lemons.blogspot.com/

Published in the Sun.Star Davao newspaper on September 06, 2014.



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