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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

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: For a great selection of high end goods, the Emporium is one of Bangkok's best.

Dave's expert tip: There is a Skytrain exit directly into the 2nd floor of the Emporium from the Phrom Pong Station, making it ever so easy to come here. Look for the grand opening of the new Emporium malls, even more upscale choices in several new locations right by this one.

Read more about Emporium →


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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.

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: For the greatest collection of IT products under one roof, Pantip Plaza is a Bangkok institution.

Dave's expert tip: Remember to get the forms correctly filled out for the VAT refund (7%), which must be done properly in advance to be able to get the refund on the way out of the country. Some shops in Pantip won't give the VAT on certain items, these are usually grey market items, perfectly legit, but the price is already substantially lower than if you bought the product elsewhere with the VAT.

Read more about Pantip Plaza →




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.

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: For mobile phones, MBK is the prime mall choice in Bangkok

Dave's expert tip: MBK is accessed directly from the National Stadium Skytrain station, but as this is the last stop on the Silom line, it is almost more enjoyable and preferable to get off at Siam and make the leisurely stroll on the traffic free Skywalk that runs down from Chidlom past Central World and Siam Paragon, stopping as you need to shop.

Read more about Mah Boon Krong (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.

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: For upscale and chic luxury, Central Embassy is Bangkok's latest and finest.

Dave's expert tip: Easiest way to get here is to take the BTS Skytrain to Ploenchit and use the direct walkway from the station exit into the mall.

Read more about Central Embassy →




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!

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: For central location and great interior decor, Terminal 21 is a cool mall

Dave's expert tip: Avoid the food court like a plague between 12-1, as thousands of workers descend on every seat. Terminal 21 can be walked straight into from the Asok BTS Skytrain station.

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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.

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: for upscale fashion on the highest end, Gaysorn is right at the top of the mall scene

Dave's expert tip: The Chidlom BTS Skytrain station has a convenient exit directly into the mall, making it easy to go almost from air con to air con.

Read more about Gaysorn Plaza →




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.

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: With its Gourmet Market and Food Court and fancy multiplex cinema, Siam Paragon is a Bangkok standout.

Dave's expert tip: Take the BTS Skytrain to Siam, and there is an entrance right into the mall.

Read more about Siam Paragon →




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.

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: For central location, array of shops, restaurants, and its great multiplex cinema, CentralWorld is a great shopping mall choice.

Dave's expert tip: It is well worth checking the Central website to see what events are on. They often have Chinese New Year performances, sumo tournaments, and the outside beer gardens open in the winter feature live musical groups each night. The Christmas lights and festivities are also most noteworthy.

Read more about CentralWorld →




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.

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: For Eastern Bangkok's most premium mall, the EmQuartier is at the top.

Dave's expert tip: Easiest way to get here is to take the BTS skytrain to Phrom Phong and use the direct entrance into the mall from here.

Read more about EmQuartier →


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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.

Recommended for Shopping Malls and Centers because: For the latest and glitziest, IconSiam is the mall of all malls!

Dave's expert tip: Take the BTS Skytrain across the river to the Taksin Hospital Station, or else you can take a cross-river ferry to the mall.

Read more about ICONSIAM →


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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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