This is Part I of a two part series for the Men’s Guide to Shopping in Bangkok. Click here for Part II.
Having trawled through the plethora of travel blogs about Bangkok, I can safely say that there are usually 3 categories of posts :
- Food blogs that recommend the best food places in Bangkok. They might recommend expensive cafes for hipsters who wish to cafe hop and instagram, or they’ll wax lyrical about the amazing street food Bangkok has to offer.
- Blogs that recommend the best places for girls to shop.
- Blogs that generally don’t care about the food and about shopping. They just want to soak in the culture.
You’ll notice that there is very little, in fact literally nothing for guys. No one ever bothers to do a blog post for guys to shop because the assumption is that guys don’t like to shop. So here’s me doing my bro duty for the guys out there. After walking around Bangkok extensively, I’ve narrowed down a few places that guys must visit to arm themselves with new threads. This will be somewhat of an idiot’s guide to Bangkok for guys so it’ll include some generic information that would be applicable to anyone interested.
Preliminary Information :
Find a good travel buddy
When I was in Bangkok, I overheard this girl’s revelation that when one travels, he/she needs to find the correct people to travel with. That is absolutely true. So make sure you find someone who is able to either match your crazy stamina for shopping, or would rather chill and relax, find a nice cafe to sit and stare at the world go by. So thankful for this army buddy of mine for chionging with me for the entire 5 days without complaining or whining. On one particular day we actually shopped from 7am – 1am. #hardcore #butworthit So a word to the wise : Usually when you’re traveling with someone you thought you were close to, you either become better friends, or hate each other after the trip. Try your best to fall in the former rather than the latter. Lol.
What to do when you land in Bangkok
If I had to choose my best purchase throughout my entire trip in Bangkok, it would be the data plan. 7 days unlimited data plan for 290 baht. Everyone should get this. For those landing in Don Meaung Airport, there will be a store right before the taxi stand selling the data plan. After you’ve cleared the customs, go down from the escalator and turn left. There’ll be this cute Thai lady yelling :”Tian Hua Ka” (sim card). Tell them what phone you’re using (so they know what kind of sim card you need) and they’ll set everything up for you. Fuss-free.
Getting from the Airport to the City
There are 2 sane ways of getting yourself to the city if you’re landing in Don Meaung Airport. Starting from September, most of the budget airlines from Singapore (mainly AirAsia and Scoot) will land here so you may safely assume that this is the airport you’ll be landing as well.
- Take a cab to your destination. When taking a cab in Bangkok, make sure you ask for the driver to charge by the meter. There is a queue for the taxi at the airport. A staff will hand you a piece of paper which will inform you of an additional 50 baht charge for the taxi driver because he picked you up from the airport. Based on my estimation, if you are heading anywhere near Siam, be prepared to spend around 200-250 baht for the trip.
- Take a cab to Mo Chit BTS station and take the BTS to your destination. This way, you won’t be worried about traffic jams. It takes the taxi about 15 minutes to reach the Mo Chit BTS Station.
For those who land in Sukhumvit Airport, there is an MRT at the airport which takes you directly into the city.
Choosing Your Hotel
The last time I chose a hotel in Bangkok, it was one that was a 15 minute walk away from the BTS. Big mistake. Sure, the hotel was cheap, good and a real value for money, but it’s a pain to walk to and fro from the hotel. You can’t just decide to go back to the hotel to leave your stuff, rest for a while and head out again because making a trip back to the hotel is already such a chore. My advice : choose a hotel that is near a BTS, preferably one that is 2-3 stations away from Siam / Chitlom. The hotel that I stayed is the Holiday Inn Express Siam and it is awesome. 2 minutes walk from the hotel to National Stadium BTS. If you wish to work off some guilt, it is a 20-25 minutes walk from the hotel to Siam.
Getting Around the City
Most of the people would tell you “Take a cab” to get around the city. My advice is to take the BTS – the Bangkok equivalent of our MRT. It is ridiculously convenient, clean, and cheap. I was so surprised at how courteous the Thais were when it came to public transport. They will line up properly before doors open, and wait for everyone to alight before moving in. There is no need to buy a stored value card to take the BTS because there is no difference in price between buying a single-trip ticket and using the stored value card. You pay for the ticket using coins. If you don’t have coins, fret not. Just queue up at the station control counter and they’ll change any note you have for 10baht coins. Use that to pay for your ticket. It would be useful for you to download a map of the BTS, but even if you didn’t, fret not. At the back of every ticket is the map of the BTS.
Whoever said that Bangkok had nothing for guys, didn’t know where to shop. After only spending 4 days, I’ve nearly burst my budget for shopping, as well as the weight limit for the baggage. Relatively speaking, the number of shops for girls outweighs the shops for guys approximately 7:1. But there are still many shops for guys. It’s just a crazy hell lot more for girls.
Pro-tip : Bargaining is not really a thing in Bangkok anymore. You may attempt to bargain, but most of the time, their prices would be fixed. The only way to get it cheaper is if you ask for wholesale price. Usually, that means buying 3 pieces of anything from the same store. The price difference between a single piece item and wholesale price and be about 50-100baht. So far, the only place I found bargaining to be useful was in ChatukChak and that was only for a few stores. Trying on Clothes : Most of the shops won’t have a changing room. I say “most” but I actually mean all. Lol. So if guys want to try out bottoms (and I strongly suggest that you do because you’ll realise that sometimes Thais can be very flexible with numbers and sizes), you’d have to do it in the store. They’ll hand you this skirt-like thing, and you basically lift up the skirt to your chest level, use your arms to tension the thing out and then perform amazing acrobatic moves to try out the bottoms. I kid. It’s not that difficult and actually quite easy.
Siam Night Market
Where is it? : The street opposite Siam Paragon / Siam Centre
How to get there? : Take the BTS to Siam and exit on the side opposite of Siam Paragon.
When does it open : It opens daily from 5pm – 11pm except on Mondays.
This place is by far, my favourite place to shop in Bangkok. The whole entire street is laden with food and clothes. It’s not very big, but it is chockfull with goodies. One night in the night market and I’ve filled up my entire hotel bed with purchases. The Siam Night Market has a good mix of guys and girls clothes, so the ratio is quite fair. Most of the clothes are Korean-inspired, so I believe it’ll appeal to many Asian guys. The price is quite cheap. I managed to buy shirts and shorts for 100-200 baht each. Better quality stuff range from 250baht to 350baht. Considering that that means it’s around $13SGD, I’d say that is quite a bargain.
Don’t miss out on the various street food they have as well! They sell BBQ pork, to Fried Chicken (My favourite), Crepes, Mango Sticky Rice, Pad Thai, freshly squeezed orange juice / pomegranate juice etc. If you intend to spend the night at Siam Night Market, don’t bother looking for a place to have dinner. Just stop by every food cart and get something and I promise you, you’ll be full by the end of the night.
Platinum Shopping Mall
How to get there? : Take the BTS to Chitlom or Siam and take the sheltered walkway to Central World. From there, walk through Central World towards Novotel. Platinum is right underneath the hotel.
When does it open : Daily from 1000hrs – 2200hrs. The 2200hrs is fake though. You’ll notice stores start to close at 2030hrs.
Platinum Shopping Mall is the most famous place to shop in Bangkok for guys and girls alike. You’ll see people dragging their trolleys there filling it up because things there are incredibly cheap, and in style. Level 4 of Platinum is dedicated to men fashion, so I suggest guys start there first. There are three “blocks” of stores on each level in Platinum, separated by 2 escalators in between. Try to walk in an organized fashion so that you won’t miss out on any store.What I did was to walk lane by lane within a block before moving on to the next. You can find all sorts of fashion in Platinum : Street Style, Korean Fashion, Preppy, Grunge etc.
Pro tip : Look out for shops with racks at the store front. These are usually clothes going for an incredibly cheap price without having to buy multiple pieces for the wholesale price. Note that you shouldn’t just confine yourself to Level 4. There are usually guys shops spread throughout the first four floors of Platinum. You just need to have the patience to walk through it all. For the other three levels, brisk walk through all the female shops. You’ll definitely chance upon a few male shops selling pretty decent stuff. In fact, about half of my stuff from Platinum was bought from shops other than on Level 4. Some of the shops sell really nice unisex stuff as well so don’t give that a miss.
ChatuChak Weekend Market
How to get there? : Take the BTS to Mo Chit. Find the exit towards Chatuchak Weekend Market.
When does it open : Saturdays and Sundays, 09:00 – 18:00, and Fridays 18:00 – 24:00. My suggestion – Don’t bother going on Friday because most of the stores won’t be open yet. Go on the weekends.
Pro-tip : Before going to Chatuchak, download this map. You can also get a physical copy of this map from the information counter. This map will be a life-saver. Chatuchak is the biggest weekend market in Bangkok, and is a must-go for any tourist. It is chockful of amazing street food and clothes. Chatuchak divides itself into sections. That’s why it’s a good idea to get a physical map so that you can navigate yourself to the sections that you are interested in. If you are running out of time, give sections like “Pets” or “Arts & Craft” a miss. In terms of clothes, Singaporean guys might find the variety here a little disappointing. The men fashion in Chatuchak mostly cater to the Westerners, so you’ll see a lot of cargo shorts, big sports-tees, or the Harley Davidson-ish fashion (ie. big bold animal prints on black shirts etc). What Chatuchak is good for though, are peripherals. Cloth bags, sandals, accessories etc. Even if you don’t come here for the shopping, come for the experience. For girls on the other hand, it is heaven. If you are not that picky about the quality and love to mix up your wardrobe a little bit with funky pieces, you’ll find them here. Go crazy.
Note : Most people would tell you to bring a bottle of water to Chatuchak because of the heat, but really, why bother? Just get yourself the amazing Thai Iced Milk Tea / Coconut Ice Cream that you can find everywhere in Chatuchak. I drank 2-3 cups of Iced Tea while walking around. It’s that good.
How to get there? : Take the MRT to Phahon Yothin and take Exit 5 towards Union Mall. The mall is right next to the exit.
When does it open : Daily from 1000hrs – 2100hrs. But don’t go early in the morning. Most of the stores would still be in the midst of setting up.
This place is a shopping centre that is one stop away from Chatuchak Park MRT station. Most people come here to escape from the ridiculous heat in Chatuchak. There are quite a number of men shops here with more in-trend fashion than those you would find in Chatuchak. Prices here are a little more expensive, but the quality is also better. What I would suggest is for you guys to go to Chatuchak in the morning, and then hop over to Union Mall in the afternoon when the sun gets too unbearable.
Pratunam Morning Market (for girls)
How to get there? : Take a taxi to Baiyoke Sky Hotel. The Pratunam morning market is near the hotel. Alternatively if you are going to the weekend market when the BTS is operating, take the BTS to Chitlom or Siam and walk towards Platinum. From Platinum, cross the overhead bridge and turn left. You’ll be walking towards Shibuya Glow Hotel. Once you reach the first alley, turn right and walk straight all the way. You’ll reach the morning market. When does it open : Daily from 0500hrs – 0900hrs. I’ve read rave reviews about this market, mostly from female bloggers. Honestly, it was rather disappointing because I didn’t really find that there was a huge variety of any sort, even for girls’ clothes. I might have went down a tad too late though. Reached at 0800hrs. For the more adventurous lot, go down at 0500hrs and see if the stuff is better. You can read more about the Pratunam Morning Market here.
You actually have to try really hard to get a bad meal in Bangkok. The street food at every corner is amazing. Bee Hoon Soup / Iced Coffee / Iced Milk Tea / Crepes / Fried Chicken Wings / Fried Drumsticks – someone stop me I’m literally drooling right now. Most of the time I don’t actively look for a particular place to eat because, well, everywhere is good. But here’s some of the places / food that you should try to look out for in particular. Pro-tip : Avoid planning your food hunts on Monday. Monday is Bangkok’s Street Cleaning Day so street hawkers are not allowed to operate.
Sabx2 Wanton Mee / Pig Trotters Rice
How to get there? : Take the BTS to Chitlom / Siam and walk towards Platinum. From Platinum, cross the overhead bridge towards Pratunam and turn left. Walk towards Shibuya Glow Hotel and turn right at the first alley. Walk along the alley and look out for this store on your right. You can’t miss it.
When does it open : Daily from 0900hrs – 1500hrs except Mondays
This is one of the more famous wanton mee in Bangkok. Everyone that I’ve asked for food advice has directed me here. To be honest, it’s rather meh, but you have to try it at least once to decide for yourself.
Pro-tip : You have to “tiao wei” for everything you eat in Thailand. Basically what this means is that you’ll get a bland bowl of something, and it’s up to you to decide how flavourful you want your food to be. They’ll usually give you condiments such as chilli powder, fish sauce, green chilli, sugar etc. Watch how the locals do it and try to follow. For Sabx2, try to get there early. Things tend to get sold out pretty fast. Also, order the big bowl. Because it’s really small. And sadly for me, I never got the opportunity to try their pig trotters rice / noodles but I heard it’s to die for so if you happen to try to let me know how it tastes!
MK Restaurant Wanton Mee
How to get there? : MK Restaurant is a famous food chain in Bangkok. You’ll be able to find it almost anywhere ie. Siam Paragon
Now this Wanton Mee I like. The sauce is awesome, the noodles were springy and the Char Siew is sweet and tender. Alternatively you can order the duck meat as well. Equally good. Make sure you order the green noodle.
Mango Tango Sticky Rice
How to get there? : For this particular branch in Siam, take the BTS to Siam and alight at the exit opposite of Siam Paragon. Turn in at Siam Square Soi 3 and lookout for an airconditioned container box. That’s Mango Tango
When does it open : Daily from 1130hrs – 2200hrs but try to go early to avoid the disappointed “sold out” sign.
The last time I came to Bangkok and hunted down for Mango Tango, they were sold out. So naturally this time I made it a point to try their mango sticky rice once. I tried mango sticky rice before and didn’t like it, but I wanted to give it one more chance. My verdict : it’s nice, but not really my thing. I could have had the mango alone without the sticky rice and would have loved it. But everyone should give this a try. It’s rather pricey for Bangkok standards but you’d be a fool not to have Mango Tango’s sticky rice at least once when you’re in Bangkok.
Ratchaprasong Thai Food (Street Hawker)
How to get there? : This place is on the street in between Central World and Platinum Mall.
When does it open : Daily from 1730hrs – 2300hrs except Mondays.
This place is an absolute must go. I am so sad that I missed out this place. You have have have have have to get your ass here, plonk it down and have the best dinner of your life. The Grilled Salted Fish is amazing, and it says a lot about how awesome it is coming from someone who generally hates fish. I’m currently craving for it right now. Order the roast chicken as well because why not. It’s good, but really the main star of the dinner would be the fish. Since I didn’t manage to have it this time, I didn’t have any pictures. The ones above are taken from my last trip to Bangkok. For a more in-depth review of how amazing this place is, check out this review.
There is only one place in Bangkok that I’d recommend for leisure with a good mix of food and shopping : Talad Rot Fai
The New Talad Rot Fai / Srinakarin Train Market
How to get there? : Take the BTS to Udom Suk. From there, take a taxi to Seacon Square. It’ll cost about 150baht. When you alight, walk behind Seacon Square to reach the train market. The entrance to the train market is on the right of the shopping mall. Spot the huge ship, and you’re golden.
When does it open : Friday to Sunday from 1700hrs – 0000hrs
For those keeping up with the latest Bangkok news, you’d know that the old Talad Rot Fai has closed, and moved to this new location. So make sure any posts you read about Talad Rot Fai reflects its current location. It might be more apt to call it the Srinakarin Train Market now. This place is the place for youngsters to be. It has a good mix of places to chill and have a cold one, go for some light shopping and some good ol’ street food. The place is filled with pubs that have live bands playing, vintage shops selling old antiques etc. My suggestion : come to Rot Fai for the atmosphere rather than the shopping. Walk around for a bit, then settle down at a pub for some drinks and enjoy the cool night air. Yes, cool night air. Srinakarin Train Market is pretty far out from the city so the air is actually enjoyably cooler. The stalls are also a lot more spaced out so you’ll feel less claustrophobic.
That’s all I have for a beginner’s guide to Bangkok! No doubt there will be places that I’ve missed but my intention for this post was never to be an exhaustive guide to Bangkok. Rather, it’s for people who don’t really have a clue about what to do in Bangkok looking for some kind of guidance. Hope this helps, and have a blast, get fat, spend more. Enjoy your holiday Bangkok Style =D
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