With plenty of markets, malls, and shopping complexes, Bangkok can hold its own among Southeast Asia’s mall-endowed capitals. You’re going to need a lot of stamina (and plenty of self control) to be able to lift your suitcase later.
Rather than trying to visit all the shopping hot spots in one trip, do as the locals do: Duck inside a mall or two to escape the afternoon heat. Shopping in Bangkok is an ideal way to enhance a couple days of sightseeing before heading farther afield, and these top shopping spots are well worth a visit.
Often called just the Weekend Market, Chatuchak is a confusing, 25-acre labyrinth of over 15,000 stalls. Yes, that sounds overwhelming, but what else would you expect from the world’s largest weekend market?
For finding cheap souvenirs, Chatuchak is hard to beat. But you’ll need to get there early and plan to do a little friendly haggling to get good deals. You’ll also need a map to get around—it’s that big. If you need a caffeine break, Bangkok's hip Ari neighborhood has plenty of cafes nearby.
The Chatuchak Weekend Market is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays. Take the BTS Skytrain to Mo Chit then walk 15 minutes to the market.
Situated on the Chao Phraya River, the two malls, riverfront park, and indoor floating market at IconSIAM are beautiful to behold. The development was completed in 2018 at a cost of over $1.5 billion and Thailand’s first authorized Apple store inside is worth a visit just to gawk at the store's design.
As expected, prices at IconSIAM are high and you’ll recognize plenty of famous European brands. No matter your shopping mission, you’ll find over 100 places to eat inside. It’s worth grabbing the free ferry across the river just to see the park and cultural displays at the floating market.
Get to IconSiam by river taxi or take the BTS Skytrain to Saphan Taksin Station then take the IconSIAM boat.
Until IconSIAM opened in 2018, CentralWorld was the largest mall in Thailand. While it's now second place in Thailand, it is still one of the largest malls in the world. CentralWorld Square (the largest outdoor square in the city) is used for massive gatherings such as the New Year’s Eve countdown.
With almost 500 stores, CentralWorld has a nice mix of shops for all budgets, though most target mid-range shoppers. The H&M and Uniqlo at CentralWorld are the largest in Southeast Asia. The mall is also home to an ice skating rink and the most luxurious cinema in Thailand.
CentralWorld is so big, you can’t miss it. Just take the BTS Skytrain to Chit Lom and then look for the towering hotel. Check out the Erawan sidewalk shrine at the corner while you're there.
Both loved and hated by budget travelers, MBK Center is Bangkok’s budget shopping mall. If the Chatuchak Weekend Market isn’t open, MBK Center is your best bet for affordable gifts and souvenirs to take home. But with over 100,000 daily visitors fighting for space in 2,000 shops, you’re going to need a lot of patience.
MBK Center is awash with fake merchandise and there are plenty of scammers in the area, but for cheap gifts, clothing, and trinkets, it’s hard to beat. Think of MBK as a mall with an indoor street market on the upper floors.
Get to MBK Center by taking the BTS Skytrain to National Stadium. You can also walk there from Siam Station.
Terminal 21 is Bangkok’s fun, mid-range, travel-themed mall. Each of the nine levels represents some exciting destination in the world like the Caribbean, Istanbul, or Rome. The food court on the fifth floor is a popular, inexpensive place to eat in the Sukhumvit area. Head to the fourth floor, themed after San Francisco, to see a scale model of the Golden Gate Bridge.
Terminal 21 is right next to the BTS Skytrain Asok station.
With over 4 million square feet of floor space, Siam Paragon is one of the top 15 largest malls in the world. Its central location, nice mix of shops, and dining options make it a popular shopping destination in Bangkok. Siam Paragon definitely leans upscale; Aston Martin and Lotus even have car showrooms inside.
For an indoor activity on a monsoon season day, Siam Paragon is home to Southeast Asia’s largest indoor aquarium. You’ll also find an IMAX theater.
As the name implies, Siam Paragon is adjacent to Siam Station, the heart of the Bangkok Mass Transit System.
After renovations in 2016, Siam Discovery is completely different from other malls in the area. The decidedly Japanese, minimalist interior is beautiful to behold and clothing is displayed artistically and tastefully. The Loft store on the third floor is full of fun Japanese gadgets and products.
Siam Discovery is located next door to Siam Paragon.
Like its Siam-named neighbors, Siam Center trends toward popular, high end brands, but it isn’t necessarily a hub for luxury shopping. Although it’s one of the oldest malls in Bangkok, you would never know. The wooden interior is well done and easy on the eyes. The upper floors showcase fashions from local Thai designers.
Siam Center is squeezed between Siam Discovery and Siam Paragon at the Siam BTS station.
Although Bangkok’s backpacker area is fraught with its fair share of scams, it’s also a great area to search for bargains. Street merchants sell trinkets, gifts, and souvenirs from carts. The part of Soi Rambuttri across Chakrabongse (the main road) is a better bet for more rigorous shopping.
You’ll have to taxi to Khao San Road. You can also take a river taxi to Phra Arthit Pier and walk.
Central Embassy is Bangkok’s spacious hub for the most luxurious Western brands. Aside from the slightly out-of-place Zara, you’ll find only the most exclusive brands such as Prada, Versace, Paul Smith, and Gucci.
Get to Central Embassy from either the Phloen Chit or Chit Lom BTS stations.
If you’re into technology, your head will probably pop off during your first visit to Pantip Plaza. Even if you don't know anything about computers or smartphones, your head will still probably pop off. Pantip Plaza is five floors of electronics, gadgets, electronic parts, and young hackers eager to show off their skills.
Beware: Much of that pirated software for sale comes loaded with malware or other nefarious ways to steal your identity.
Get to Pantip Plaza by taking the BTS Skytrain to Ratchathewi then walking 10 minutes east.
Platinum Fashion Mall
Although Platinum Fashion Mall is dated and busy, it's where locals go for bargains on clothing. If your shopping in Bangkok is more about scoring deals than strolling lavish malls, this is the place to go. Haggling is expected here, so be ready.
The Platinum Fashion Mall is a 15-minute walk from Ratchathewi Station.