Friday, June 09, 2006

Let's go shopping! - Bangkok - Thailand

Thailand and Bangkok have developed into one of the best and most popular shopping locations in Asia, and with good reason. Prices are low, quality generally high and the range and variety is pretty amazing - silks, gemstones, tailor-made clothes and traditional handicrafts are all highlights of Bangkok shopping. Most shops seem to be open 10.00am to 10.00pm everyday of the week, and nightmarkets carry on even after this time - all very convenient in being able to go shopping at basically any time you want. BANGKOK is no slouch when it comes to shopping – or bargains. Whether you're looking for pricey brands or street-side kitsch, the Thai capital has it all. If you survive the smog and car exhaust – though things are decidedly improving – do remember that if it does not have a VAT tag (the tax), there will be no guarantee of quality. That's easy enough. If you don't care about this minor quibble, get your hands dirty and jump right in.



MBK Shopping Mall [Mah Boon Krong]

This is a very popular shopping mall for locals. Located just across from Siam Square, it is most popular with the younger set, lots of trendy school girls here every evening. Plenty of restaurants and all manner of goods from cars to furniture. If you are looking for electronic goods such as Mini-Disc and CD walkmen, this is the place. All the goods of this nature are smuggled in and do not have VAT and local tax making MBK by far the cheapest place for Panasonic, Sony, Aiwa, etc. A good selection of copied video CDs, DVDs, and the premier place for PlayStation game copies from below 40 Baht each.


The Siam Paragon

It is the largest development of its kind in Thailand, on a massive 21 acres of prime central Bangkok land. The Paragon has moved the Emporium firmly into second place The Paragon has car showrooms, an aquarium, high class food court (not the one on the ground floor!), fountains, in fact the whole concept has been designed to eclipse similar projects in neighbouring countries and make Thailand a shopping destination similar to Hong Kong or Singapore. All the top name brands are there, along with a first class hotel, serviced apartments, cinemas, restaurants, aquarium, and a hall for grand events.

Weekend Market - Jattujak

A place you can bargain! Any serious Bangkok shopping binge, however, has to start at the sprawling and sweaty Jattujak (Kampaengpet Road) weekend market which hasn't slowed down at all. Wildly popular among locals and expats alike, the market is packed each weekend with everything you could possibly need (if you're patient enough). Jattujak is a riot and will assail the senses. Be prepared and bring along a bottle of water. You’ll need it. Haggle your way through the warren of shops selling trinkets, funky lights, candles, lacquerware, statues, fake antiques, pillowcases, silk bedspreads, cushion-covers, chopsticks, dining plates and a lot more. Yes, you can buy roosters, cats, dogs and even pythons but this may raise eyebrows as cabin baggage. Set aside at least half a day, if not more, for this expedition. Fortunately, there are a few shops selling snacks, meals, ice-cream, soft drinks and mineral water. Surprisingly, Jattujak’s “streets” are numbered, so note your route mentally and leave a breadcrumb trail as it’s easy to get lost in the press. The best time to drop in is 10-11am, on weekends. Take the BTS SkyTrain and hop off at the last station, Mochit. Or tube it underground by the new Metro. There’s a station for Jattujak. The exchange rate is roughly US$1=Bt40. On to more shops. Take a peek at the sexy but elegant G-strings (39 baht, US$0.9, per piece, or Bt100 for three) at No's Bra (Jattujak Section 24, Soi 1 tel: [66-1] 331-9823). Aspiring art collectors will find affordable acrylic paintings on canvas (Bt5,500, US$129) at Jakkrit Ridswaeng (Jattujak Section 2, tel: [66-2] 618-4080). This is a tiny gallery specializing in Buddha faces. Close by, in the same section, you'll spot an array of shops that sell everything from home decorations to hip ready-to-wear.

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