Spending a little holiday time shopping on a stopover in Bangkok just gets easier all the time, especially with direct connections from the city's sky train right into retail heaven. Come rain or shine you can hop between the top malls in the Thai capital without the need to face the city's notorious traffic.
Even with a host of shopping options on or at least a short drive from your doorstep on Thai islands like Phuket and Samui, many visitors still plan in at least a night or two in Bangkok to buy everything from souvenirs, electronics and jewellery to spa products and clothes. The Thai capital is famous for its sprawling markets and shiny shopping malls; perhaps even more so for the value for money you can still enjoy on a holiday spending spree.
Every month seems to bring news of a new shopping centre soon to open in the city's main districts and each one claims to be bigger, better and more convenient than the last one. Not long ago, however, it was not quite as easy to get to these temples to the gods of retail as it was to spend your money in them. Until that is, the developers came up with the idea of direct connections to the city's new sky train system.
Now you can "hop and shop" around Bangkok to your heart's content with some of the best shopping malls in Asia just a short, covered stroll from any one of the central area Sky Train (BTS) stations. Walk out of the air-conditioned train, straight into retail heaven.
Here are 5 (plus 3) of the best connected shopping malls in Bangkok.
BTS Siam – Paragon Shopping Mall
One of the largest shopping malls in Asia, Siam Paragon is packed with top brand retail outlets, as well as a department store full of well known names, quality restaurants, and a huge cineplex with no less than 15 screens. You can buy everything from a silk shirt to a Rolls Royce in the sparkling stores and there's a fascination fresh food market on the lower floor, which is great place to try some local specialities.
BTS National Stadium – MBK
Considerably less sophisticated and certainly more crowded than many of the more upmarket shopping malls in Bangkok; MBK is nevertheless a must-visit if your looking for cheap (often not authentic) electronics and clothes for young fashion victims. There's also plenty of food on offer from local flavours to fast food favourites. The chaos may be a little too much for some people but MBK definitely provides a retail rush.
BTS Chidlom -- Central Chidlom, Amarin Plaza, Gaysorn Plaza, Central World
Yes, four shopping malls can all be accessed on foot directly from one Bangkok sky train station thanks mainly to a covered "skywalk" that follows the main road beneath it allowing for relaxed (outside rush hour) pedestrian wanderings between a whole host of shopping alternatives with walkways connecting right into the heart of retail heaven. Central Chidlom is a well stocked, varied, and professionally run department store with all the brands and more; Amarin Plaza hosts regular sales and bargain basement offerings; Gaysorn Plaza is distinctly upmarket with high-brand names and hand crafted extravagances. Then, of course there's Central World, one of the biggest lifestyle shopping malls in the world, designed to attract 150,000 customers every day with 6 different shopping zones, each with unique design and ambiance accessed through 18 different entrances and exits and some of the largest specialty retail stores in Thailand.
BTS Phrom Phong -- Emporium
Another of the city's more refined shopping experiences, Emporium Mall nevertheless offers regular sales and promotions and its Department Store is one of the best in the city for quality apparel. Other outlets include a large bookstore fully stocked with English language titles and magazines, global high street fashion outlets like Zara, M&G and a well laid out supermarket with deli counters and imported specialities. There's a multiplex cinema on the upper floor and Emporium is also home to the Thailand Creative and Design Centre (TCDC), which hosts rotating exhibitions and also an extensive design library for creative minds. A larger, sister property is soon to open directly opposite Emporium with yet more options to spread some wealth.
BTS Asoke / MRT Sukhumvit -- Terminal 21
One of the newer Shopping malls in Bangkok, Terminal 21 introduced themed shopping experiences to the Thai capital. The building is designed as an airport terminal but with each floor dedicated to a different country and styled to reflect that location. An impressive list of themed designs – which even extends to the bathrooms – includes Rome, London, Tokyo, Istanbul and San Francisco. Each of the floors also offers a range of different products displayed in a quaint, street market style but without the headaches of traffic, heat and heaving crowds. With the ubiquitous dining options to complete the convenience, Terminal, as its known, offers a fun family day out as well as a real shopping spectacle.
by Wayne Hue