Not many can dispute Bangkok’s recent meteoric rise as a top shopping destination in South East Asia. This assertion can be qualified by the numerous emerging shopping centres that dot the Bangkok skyline today.
Popular shopping complexes that I have managed to visit, include the ever packed MBK Centre,CentralWorld,Siam Paragon,Future Park,Fashion Island and Mega Bangna. The MBK Centre in particular has curved out a niche as being the ideal centre for many tourists seeking bargains in clothing and electronics.
Despite the presence of globally recognized brands at MBK Centre,such as McDonald’s,Starbucks,many have argued the infiltration of cheap copy items of such brands as Jimmy Choo,Prada,Louis Vuitton to mention a few.
To the ever budget conscious traveller and local resident, two ‘open air markets’ are particularly popular (The ‘open air’ setup, is more of individual single unit stalls,not congregated in one particular building). There is the Pratunam Market located a 10 minutes drive from the CentralWorld and the Jajtujak/Chatuchak market located close to the last BTS station along the Sukhumvit Line,referred to as Mo-Chit.
The latter market is open only on weekends from 9.00 am till late afternoon(not sure on particular hour).This is in particular a good choice for items one would wish to pick in bulk and at negotiable price. One is advised to make it the market early,due to the crowds that are sure to swell up later in the day.
I have been informed of several night markets,in reference to similar ‘open air markets’ that open for business in the evening, till late hours of the night. I managed to visit one in an area called Sala Daeng, found it quite intriguing really,with stalls opening and setting up for business at around 6.00 p.m. I managed to pick only a few items in a rush,my mind seemed to find it hard to reconcile,that one can shop late at night,despite assurance of security in the vicinity.
The mainstream shopping centres are quite impressive. What with adequate security,working elevators and escalators,presence and clearly marked fire exit door ways,clean washrooms…yes I can never fail to overemphasize the need to have clean toilets,with smiling and quick-to-action staff.
The tenant mix and positioning is quite outstanding – from coffee shops,department stores,shoe shops,supermarket,one can not fail to notice the thought process in achieving a successful shopping centre.
Food courts are also a significant addition to any successful mall in Bangkok;be sure to acquaint yourself with process of picking a food voucher,card or paper voucher, prior to heading to a particular food vendor.
An interesting addition worth mentioning is the number of slim and make up centres in a majority of the centres. Weight and physical matters seem to be taken very seriously in Bangkok. This is obviously an opportunity that has been seized by a number of players in the industry.
Finally,another significant factor I believe that is contributing to a successful shopping culture, is infrastructure and in particular the mass transit systems ,the rapid elevated train service commonly known as the sky train or BTS*(Bangkok Transit System) as well as the Underground MRT system
The hordes of people who disembark from the trains are testament of success stories in conveniently and rapidly connecting a ready market to willing service providers.
So,when in Bangkok, be sure to visit the places mentioned above and share your experiences. If I have missed out on something,for you frequent Bangkok traveller,feel free to chip in…