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Money and Shopping in Bangkok


Money and Shopping in Bangkok

Individual listings can be found in Bangkok's district articles
Racks of clothing at Siam Square
Racks of clothing at Siam Square
Dump a teenager in Siam Square with a few thousand baht and she'll stay occupied for the rest of the week! Siam Square is the place to shop in Bangkok; the small sois of Siam Square have dozens of small designer boutiques. MBK Center and Siam Center are the most popular shopping malls, as they sell fashion well below Western rates. Siam Paragon and the shopping plazas at Ratchaprasong feel even larger, but are much quieter, as most local Thais cannot afford the Guccis and Louis Vuittons on sale there. Ladies will also feel well at home in the Emporium in Sukhumvit. Just take a few steps out of your hotel and Bangkok feels like a huge street market. Sukhumvit has the usual souvenirs, t-shirts and other tacky tourist junk. Browsing Khao San Road's roadside stalls is particularly good for clothing and accessories, many of them for a bargain. While many of these stalls still cater to the traditional hippie crowd, they have been slowly gentrifying to appeal a broader audience. The nearby Banglamphu Market sells cheap knock-offs of everything, just like the night markets in Silom and Rattanakosin. In the weekends, the Chatuchak Weekend Market in Phahonyothin is a must as its 8,000 stalls together form the largest market in Southeast Asia. Shoppers can buy just about everything from clothing to potted plants and everything in between — it is a paradise for browsers and bargain-hunters alike. A weekday alternative is Pratunam, one of the city's renowned garment markets. Clothes shopping here goes on wholesale, and you're even cheaper off if you buy in bulk. At Pantip Plaza you can buy computer-related stuff from branded laptops to pirated DVDs. Yaowarat and Phahurat give a more authentic experience, although many stores sell the cheap teen accessories found elsewhere as well. Just sitting at a plastic chair and watching daily commerce evolve is a fun activity in itself. Phahurat is the best destination for fabrics, available in all colours and sizes. Pak Khlong Talat is a surprisingly fun wholesale market for all kinds of cut flowers and vegetables. If you're a morning person, visit it around 03:00, when new flowers from upcountry arrive and the marketplace is beautifully illuminated. Thonburi, being one of the least developed areas of Bangkok, is the best place to experience what the city used to be like. A must is the weekends-only Taling Chan Floating Market, which feels at least somewhat authentic as it blends a rural market with the canal side way of life. Wang Lang Market is an undiscovered gem with strictly local prices. The other side of the river, Rattanakosin, has everything a good Buddhist would need, be it amulets, monk bowls or human-sized Buddha statues. For antiques, Silom is the place to go, as most potential buyers stay there in expensive hotels. River City in Yaowarat is the largest antique mall of the city, and priced to match. Gold and gems are popular buys, but be extremely wary as many tourists buy worthless pieces of cut glass believing it to be valuable gems. Never let a tuk-tuk driver convince you into a gem store, as more often than not, you're being ripped off. The same rule goes for tailoring shops; you can get a custom-made suit for amazingly cheap prices, but you have to know where to go, as many tailors provide bad quality — see the box for advice on finding a good tailor. Browsing second hand English-language books can best be done on Khao San Road. For new releases, there are plenty of chain stores in shopping plazas, including Asia Books, B2S, Bookazine and Kinokuniya. There's a particularly wide array of books on Asian culture and history; some have a good selection of foreign newspapers and magazines as well. Getting money in Bangkok is relatively easy; credit cards are widely accepted and ATMs are spread all over the city, especially in downtown areas. All banks charge a 150 baht commission for using foreign cards, Aeon Bank being the sole exception to this. Two of the most conveniently located Aeon ATMs can be found in the central part of the second floor of MBK Center in Siam Square and at the first floor of Central Department Store at Silom Complex in Silom.

The Most Frequently Asked Travel Questions about Bangkok

Tailoring tips

Bangkok is particularly well-known for its plethora of tailoring shops; here you can get a custom-made suit for amazingly low prices compared to the West. Choosing a tailor is tricky though. Tailors in the middle of tourist areas, such as Khao San Road or Nana Plaza, generally provide poor quality and often quote silly prices. Avoid any tailor recommended by touts or tuk-tuk drivers as they cannot be trusted and you'll have to pay their commission; also avoid super-cheap packages or anything done in 24 hours, as the quality will suffer accordingly. The most important rule for getting a good tailor: do research. Don't just walk in the first tailor shop you see, but ask fellow travellers and look online for (user) reviews. In general, the best tailors are slightly off the tourist track in Silom and Sukhumvit.

It will help considerably if you know fabrics and what style you want (bring along a sample or at least a picture), and can spare the time for at least three sessions for a suit (measurement, fitting and final adjustment). Prices obviously depend on the tailor's skill and the materials used, but expect to pay at least 7,000 baht for a two-piece suit. When picking the materials, you're best off with Italian or English cloth as local fabrics are often of poor quality (with the exception of silk). Insist on two fittings for suits. Give the tailor a lot of detail and give yourself time, so you'll get the exact suit you're looking for.


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Bangkok Travel Guide from Wikitravel. Many thanks to all Wikitravel contributors. Text is available under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0, images are available under various licenses, see each image for details.

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