Hailed as one of the greatest travel destinations in Asia—and some say the world—Thailand bustles with a myriad of sights and smells to savour. It is also home to one of the most celebrated cuisines in the world, and is famous for its Pad Thai, boat noodles, Tom Yum Goong and Pad Ka Prow.
Luxury Malls and Shopping Districts
In the heart of Bangkok lies hundreds of megamalls and other wholesale fashion malls, all of which cater to different interests and preferences.
For first-timers, some of the more popular luxury malls include Siam Paragon, The EMquartier and Siam Discovery Bangkok. They house an array of brands ranging from international luxury labels to trendy local brands that are popular with Thai “It” girls and fashion bloggers.
If you’re shopping with kids, some of the malls contain attractions to keep them entertained. For example, Siam Paragon boasts Siam Ocean World, one of the largest aquariums in Southeast Asia and home to over 30,000 sea creatures.
Wholesale retail shopping can be done at the Pratunam Fashion Hub Association. Other value-for-money malls include Platinum Fashion Mall, Krungthong Plaza and Shibuya 19. These malls offer a greater variety of local and indie brands, many of which are more affordable than their counterparts in luxury malls.
Most notable is the legendary bargain fashion hub Mah Boon Krong (also known as MBK), which remains a long-time favourite amongst tourists and locals. The mall sells tons of items, from fashion and traditional arts and crafts to video games and consoles for cheap. There are also many shops selling traditional Thai snacks that make ideal souvenirs.
Niche and Indie Shopping Areas
If you’re looking for something more unique, there are a number of chic places in Bangkok that offer great shopping and dining. Asiatique, The Riverfront is Bangkok’s first large-scale riverside project that combines shopping, dining and sightseeing. What differentiates Asiatique is its historical element, as the area has been refurbished from architecture dating to the early 20th century.
Alternatively, there are shopping alleys in Thong Lo and Ekamai, with a few main shopping malls such as Market Place Thong Lo and J Avenue.
Shop in the upmarket districts of Bangkok and enjoy a cup of coffee with a delicate cake in one of the quiet cafes along these streets. Hidden Place @ Ekamai 22 is a restaurant operated in a two-storey house that has rooms with retro and vintage décor.
There is also a fashion store in-house, and patrons may lounge on the beanbags or watch the stars on the rooftop at night.
Enjoy a trip to Chatuchak Weekend Market for a mind-boggling variety of bargains and deals. Although it is sweltering hot in the daytime, the trip is well worth the weather and there are many street foods to keep you cool in the heat, such as the market’s famous coconut ice cream.
Chatuchak is home to hundreds of small shops selling clothes, handicrafts, antiques, furniture and accessories, all at bargain prices. For the adventurous, there are many zones to explore, including an exotic pets zone where one can check out animals such as snakes, hermit crabs and colourful birds for sale.
As for cultural hubs, there are niche areas catering to the different communities residing in Bangkok. Japanese Town has many Japanese grocery shops, beauty parlours, household product outlets as well as restaurants. The Korean Town in the middle of BTS Nana and Asoke stations is a four-storey building that has everything Korean under one roof.
Exploring the Rich Culture and History of Thailand
To get in touch with the historical side of Bangkok, you may opt to visit the various tourist hotspots around Bangkok. The famous Floating Markets, home to the much-acclaimed boat noodles, are dotted around Bangkok. There are three main floating markets to check out at your convenience: Khlong Lat Mayom Floating Market, Damnoen Floating Market and Amphawa Floating Market.
You may also visit the Four-Faced Buddha and the six shrines dedicated to deities around the Ratchaprasong Zone.
In addition, the newly established Yodpiman River Walk along the Chao Phraya River has fantastic scenery and intricate colonial style architecture. The Yodpiman Flower Market and the Pak Khlong Market sell wholesale fresh flowers along the riverside too.
Travelling Out to Hua Hin
Located about 230 kilometres from Bangkok, Hua Hin is a popular destination frequented by locals and tourists alike. It is well-known for its pristine beaches and sumptuous seafood fare.
Visitors can spend the day at the Vana Nava Water Jungle, a gargantuan water theme park with 19 rides. Kids and adults alike can have fun with rides like the Abyss, Freefall and Boomerango.
The Cicada Market (available Fridays to Sundays) is a popular hotspot to buy cheap gifts, clothes and accessories. As Hua Hin is more of a laidback beach town, there very few shopping complexes, one of which is Hua Hin Market Village. Otherwise, visitors can also opt to visit Plearnwan for food and shopping. Plearnwan is another cultural heritage site as memories of days past are preserved in its architecture.
An European-style farm in Thailand? Yes, the Swiss Sheep Farm located in Cha-am, Hua Hin is a replica of a Swiss farm and a great place for kids! The farm offers sheep feeding, pony riding, horse-cart rides and plenty of photo-taking opportunities with its windmill, sheep, and transformer figurines. Located near the farm is Santorini Park—a Greek-inspired amusement park lined with shops, restaurants, as well as interactive rides and games. Its whitewashed buildings and colourful painted windows are a perfect photo opportunity for visitors.