Shop until You Drop in Air-Conditioned Splendor in Bangkok



While everyone goes to the mall to shop, or at least window shop, in Bangkok, going to the mall is a full on activity. While the heat and humidity outside make wandering the city downright oppressive at times, the shopping malls are a complete contrast, offering plenty of cool air, and lots of places to sit and relax. It's not only shopping that goes on in these spots, but world class spa treatments, eating, drinking, and all of the best designer shops, not to mention cinemaplexes, ice rinks, gyms, and plenty more. Check out the city's latest opulent offering, IconSiam, which might even outdo the snazzy EmQuartier (which features a waterfall, some of the highest end shops in town, and even an entire set of floors dedicated to fine dining). Or perhaps try Central Embassy, which features one of the city's most upscale cinemas, the Embassy Diplomat, along with great restaurants to go with all the high end brand shops. It's worth coming here just to gape at the architecture. Other stalwarts like Siam Paragon, Terminal 21, and CentralWorld also all have luxury theaters, tons of dining options, and plenty to do other than just shop. For more specific items you'll need to head to specific malls. For electronics needs, make a beeline for Pantip Plaza, for mobile phones, head to MBK, and for high end designer goods, Gaysorn is a fine choice. All of the Central Malls, from CentralWorld to Central Chidlom, are renowned for their gourmet markets with food and drink from around the world. From the cool air spots to beat the heat to finding a rainy day escape, Bangkok's malls are pretty much unrivalled. 



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Before there was Siam Paragon, before there was Terminal 21, there was the Emporium. While maybe not as famous, the Emporium is one of the original upscale shopping malls of Bangkok, and remains a very pleasant spot to while away an afternoon or two. Premium fashions and international brands are on display here with plenty of celebrities and high rollers coming in to put their cash to work in the Emporiums well stocked offerings that include designer items, home furnishings, and hi tech gadgets. For those who want more than shopping, the mall boasts an excellent food court and plenty of restaurants up on the 5th floor, while the 6th floor is home to a multiplex cinema as well as the innovative Thailand Creative Design Center, where you can surf the web, read a book, or just sprawl out on a couch in complete peace, enjoying the views of Benjasiri Park below


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Ratchathewi


 

Bangkok's number one high tech mall. Anything you want or need having to do with computers, cameras, and any electronics, this is the place to come. While there is plenty of decent and legit hardware and software, the market is also notorious for pirated goods, but appears to have had a real facelift as of late, with few offers for copied software or porn like there used to be. The second floor food court in Pantip has an extensive array of eats if you need a break,and remember to try bargaining in many of the shops, even if the price is "fixed." It also pays to shop around, as the prices really do vary from stall to stall in this labyrinth of a shopping center.


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Maboonkrong, more commonly known as MBK, may not be as fancy as its neighbors Siam Paragon or Central World, but it is certainly as popular. Probably best known as the place to buy a mobile phone in Bangkok, this is actually just one floor of this large shopping mall that houses an excellent collection of clothing, shoes, department stores, restaurants, as well as a multiplex cinema. MBK tends to have big sales going on all the time, and the prices are far lower than its nearby designer counterparts. Due to this, it can be a rather crowded and confusing place to wander through, but don't let this deter you. The ethnic food court upstairs has a range of cuisine from around the world, and the mall is noted for various performances that go on outside in the big plaza, including the Japanese Cosplay Festival as well as the colorful Bangkok Tattoo Festival, both of which are annual events. Camera enthusiasts should head to FotoFile, one of Bangkok's best camera shops, with two locations in MBK.


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Bangkok's newest opulent luxury mall doesn't disappoint. Named after the former British embassy gardens upon which it sits, this futuristically designed building is made out of shimmering aluminium tiles and seeks to pay homage to Thai temple design while at the same time merging a podium and tower into one coiled structure. Inside, you'll find some of the most elite brand names in Bangkok all at some of the highest prices to be found in town as well, letting you know just what kind of real estate you are sitting on. In addition to the luxury shopping, there are plenty of great eating options, led by renowned names like Din Tai Fung (Shanghai dumplings), the Water Library, and Sonboom Seafod. There is also a hi tech cinemaplex, and construction is on the way for a new 6 star hotel that will be one of Bangkok's finest. The latest opening here is an open plan area up on the top floor which features a beautiful art book shop, surrounded by pleasant places to sit and eat and drink. Called Open Space, it's a very relaxing and well designed spot to linger in on hot or rainy afternoons.


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While not the biggest or glitziest, Terminal 21 is many visitor's top choice for its design and layout. Each floor is named after a different part of the world, complete with local icons, and one can visit the Caribbean, San Francisco, Tokyo, Rome, Paris, and London merely by riding up an escalator. There are all the usual designer brand chains, as well as 44 outlets featuring local Thai designed products. There is a dazzling array of eating possibilities, from Mexican to Japanese, and the 35 baht food court has truly excellent local food. Perhaps best of all are the space age toilets, complete with bidets and heated seat covers, all the more reason to shop, eat, take in a movie, and use the privy!


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Perhaps Bangkok's most luxurious and upscale mall, Gaysorn sits across the street from Central World and houses a collection of the most high end fashion brands and designs. Luis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci, and all the most noted names are represented here, as well as Thailand's top creative designers such as Sretsis and Senada Theory. Gaysorn is an opulent mall, full of white marble, and far easier to navigate and less crowded than the malls surrounding it, and there are plenty of chic cafes and quiet niches in which to take a break from the chaos of the busy Ratchaprasong Junction outside.


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Siam Paragon is all about big. One of Asia's biggest malls, featuring a 15 theater multiplex cinema which includes Asia's largest screen, the Siam Ocean World, which is Southeast Asia's largest aquarium, a bowling alley, a concert hall, and of course the gigantic multi-floor mall that is home to hundreds of luxury brand retail shops, car dealers, food court, and perhaps the best gourmet market in the kingdom. You can buy virtually any type of food here, from fresh imported seafood to gelato to fine wines from around the globe. The upstairs cinema includes an IMAX theater and stays open well past the mall closing hours.


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Once known as the World Trade Center, the CentralWorld Plaza is the third largest shopping complex in Asia, and even with the opening of nearby Siam Paragon, still remains one of the top shopping draws in Thailand. The outside of the mall is thronged with visitors praying at the local female fertility shrine, as well as enjoying the daily changing exhibits and festivals that take place in the large open space fronting the complex. Inside, 8 floors host just about every shopping label in Thailand, bookstores, musical instrument shops, and much more. The 7th floor has a wide selection of excellent eateries of different cuisines, plus a gourmet supermarket stocked with goodies, and the 8th floor is home to the 15 screen SF Cinema City movie complex. They have an excellent array of Christmas lights, live bands, and even outdoor beer gardens during the cool season winter months.


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The EmQuartier is Bangkok's newest and perhaps most luxury shopping mall. Built as part of an expansion to the already existing Emporium, the EmDistrict will feature several malls, of which the EmQuartier is the latest. Hundreds of worldwide name brands in fashion and beauty can be found here, from Luis Vuitton to Issey Miyake to Diane Von Furstenburg, Jimmy Choo, and much much more. At Xmas time they are having a lot of sales here, and there's always a festive atmosphere with music playing and colorful lights flashing. Additionally, the mall has a Helix Zone filled with every restaurant imaginable, from Mexican to New England seafood, to tons of Japanese, Chinese, Korean, and Thai options, and there is also an inexpensive food court. In addition to shopping, the mall has a luxury fitness center, a multiplex cinema and IMAX theater, a gourmet food market, and even a waterfall. The Virgin Active Fitness gym here boasts an altitude training room and the highest state of the art training facilities should you need to burn more calories after shopping. Shopaholics should be sated for years to come.


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Thonburi


 

Bangkok's latest mall has to be seen to be believed. It's truly an endless string of superlatives, with over 500,000 square meters of space and some 50 billion baht spent on creating Bangkok's most impressive shopping space, it is an absolute mecca for shopping visitors.

The mall features a seven-story Takashimaya Japanese department store, two luxury condominium towers, an endless array of restaurants and eateries, fitness clubs, and even an indoor floating market, paying homage to the traditional Thai way of commerce. Thailand's first Apple store can be found here, and if you tire of shopping, you can even get a dose of culture at the National Heritage Gallery museum which is also housed inside the complex! There is also a 3,000 seat cinema and concert hall, and pretty much round the clock light and fountain show outside.

You'll be hard pressed to find anything more extravagant in Bangkok, so plan to spend the day here, it's certainly the glitziest thing the Thonburi side of the river has ever seen.


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Meet Dave Stamboulis

Dave Stamboulis is a travel writer/photographer based in Bangkok. Born in Athens, Greece and growing up in the U.S., Dave first discovered Bangkok while on a 45,000-kilometer bicycle trip and...  More About Dave

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