3 alternative spots for shopping during Bangkok shutdown 10


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This post would have been written from a hotel in Bangkok, but unfortunately it was completed back home in Sunny Singapore instead. I was supposed to head up with some friends to Bangkok over the weekend of 18-20 Jan for a quick shopping and food – but the Bangkok Shutdown protests had restarted with new fervor that week, with streets being closed off and traffic blocked, and the occasional news of drive-by shootings and violence; the afternoon before we flew off, news of a bombing injuring over 20 people emerged.

Bangkok Protests

Look at the crowds gathered in front of Central Mall for Bangkok Shutdown! Image Source – Prachatai

That was what made us decide to postpone the trip to a later date – we were going to stay and intended to go to many of the areas which were prime protest areas, and we wanted to avoid the unpredictability and possible escalation as the 2 February election dates drew nearer. While the Thais were careful to ensure tourists did not get too embroiled in their politics, a grenade isn’t going to make that sort of distinction.You can read more about my dilemma here.

I was lucky that my airline and hotel were willing to push my dates with minimal penalty, but not everyone has that same flexibility with their trip to Thailand. Also, word from the ground is that while the protest sites and certain areas are potential danger hotspots filled with protestors, most of the city does remain unhindered by the fuss, with many learning quite quickly how to avoid the major areas. So I’m not letting my experience and research go to waste – I’ve been up to Bangkok a good 4-5 times in less tumultuous times, so for travelers headed up to Bangkok and looking for cheap, good and interesting shopping, here are some tips on shopping places out of these main protest areas:

Chaktuchak

For cheap weekend shopping

Bangkok Shopping Chaktuchak

The iconic clock tower is one useful landmark to navigate this huge market – Image Source Roger Price

The old stalwart of cheap Bangkok shopping, this sprawling outdoor market Chaktuchak or JJ market has just about anything you can think of. It’s a veritable maze, so if you see something you like, don’t think about doubling back later because it’s unlikely you’ll be able to find it again! Take a map from any of the tourist booths to get a rough idea of the layout – the furniture section is pretty interesting, and the pet section will break your heart with its adorable selection of animals you wish you could bring home with you. Grab cheap drinks or snacks to stay fueled from the food section or the carts lined along the main road within the market.

It gets hot and crowded, so dress light, keep an eye on your wallet, and have a little patience and some bargaining gumption and you’ll come away tired and sweaty, but satisfied. My tip for those who want more trendy local fashion beyond the Chang beer singlets, head over to Section 3, listed in maps as the ‘plants and gardening section’ at the Kamphaeng Phet MRT station exit next to near toilet 6, which is actually a long stretch of cute little stores, a number of whom actually have branches in other popular malls.

Getting there: Take the MRT to Kamphaeng Phet station (nearest) or to Chaktuchak Park station, or the BTS skytrain to Mo Chit station. It’s a pretty well known place so cab drivers shouldn’t have any trouble getting there either. Note that Lad Phrao intersection in the Northern part of Chaktuchak is a designated Bangkok Shutdown protest area, but so far the market itself remains unaffected. The main market is ppen only on weekends 6am – 6pm.

 

Asiatique

For a cool night out

Bangkok Shopping - Asiatique

Complete with Ferris Wheel! Image Source – Michael Saechang

Asiatique is a large new night market located along the Chao Phraya river. Only open in 2012, it used to be an old factory and port area, and now houses over 1,500 shops in four districts from 5pm to midnight. There’s something for every budget here in Asiatique, whether you’re looking for the cheap souvenirs or higher-end local Thai designer wares. There are sit-down restaurants as well as an open food court, so come in the evening for an early dinner and spend the rest of your night wandering around the place.

If you’re tired of walking around all day, you could also check out two classic Thai shows – the Joe Louis Puppet Theatre features traditional Thai stories through puppetry, while the long-running Calypso Cabaret brings you fabulous transgender Thai artistes in a colorful song and dance show. Or enjoy the view from the Asiatique Sky ferris wheel, or just take a long stroll on the boardwalk by the riverside.

Getting there: Asiatique is located at Charoenkrung Road – road traffic there is a little hellish because there’s only one main thoroughfare leading to the place, and parking is another nightmare in itself. Another option is to take the Skytrain to Saphan Taksin and then take a free river ferry shuttle (runs from 5pm – 11pm).

 

Talad Rot Fai

For unusual vintage finds

Bangkok Shopping Talad Rot Fai

Old is new again at this relocated vintage train market. Image Source – Mark Fischer

Not as big as either Chaktuchak or Asiatique, it makes up for its small size with its vintage theme, with many stores decked out with nostalgic memorabilia. Not everything is vintage, but stuff in general is less mass-produced than the stuff you’ll get in the other markets, and remains cheap and affordable. There are also a number of food stalls as well for those who get hungry. I haven’t been here myself,  but am definitely going to check this out when I do head up to Bangkok in the future.

Getting there: the market moved in 2013 from its old location next to train tracks close to Chaktuchak to a new location behind Seacon Square on Srinagarindra Road, Soi 51, Prawet, close to the Bangkok Racing Circuit. It’s not the most convenient though – you’ll need to take the BTS to either Udon Suk or On Nut station and then a taxi from there. The outdoor market is open on Friday to Sunday from 5pm to midnight.

 

I’ve got a couple of other shopping suggestions for those who really want to do some hardcore shopping, so hit me up in the comments if you want more recommendations!


About Jaclynn Seah

Jaclynn Seah is The Occasional Traveller, a deskbound wanderluster with a full-time job and loves to travel... when she can get the time off. She hopes to remind other working professionals like herself to get out and travel more and not be bogged down by the ennui of daily routines. Hailing from Singapore, you'll hear all the good (and not-so-great) things about her home country, as well as stories from her visits to neighbouring Asian countries where she often goes to get a quick travel fix. Avid scuba diver, chocolate ice cream lover and fond of the occasional salsa dance, her motto in life is to try anything and everything at least once! You can find her travel journals and wanderlust inspirations over at theoccasionaltraveller.com, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for the latest updates.

10 thoughts on “3 alternative spots for shopping during Bangkok shutdown

  • Lori Carruthers

    Yeah – would love additional suggestions … lived in Bangkok during the demonstrations in 2010 — shopping was the best part of living in BKK

    • Jaclynn Seah Post author

      Hi Lori, 2 more suggestions for you:

      Terminal 21 in Asoke is a pretty fancy new mall – it’s got a whole international theme running through it, with each floor named for a different city, and really fancy/specialized toilets to match! The rest of the mall is themed after an airport. I liked the women’s shopping there, there are some good local Thai designer brands on the first level.

      Platinum mall in Pratunam is also filled with women’s clothing, lots of little shops, quite cheap and the best part is its indoors/air-conditioned so you don’t have to suffer the heat and crowds of Pratunam market.

      hope that helps! any tips from you since you lived there for a bit?

  • Arianwen

    It’s great to see you found things to do despite all the mayhem. When I was there, there were protests outside the mall too, and this was many years ago now.

    • Jaclynn Seah Post author

      I’ve never encountered protests in the past, so hopefully I won’t have to in future! Maybe the later part of the year will be a little less fraught with tension… hopefully!

  • Michael

    We are on our way to Thailand as part of our Asia Tour in a couple of months. Really hope it settles down by then!

    Thanks for the advice on the shopping/markets 🙂

    • Jac

      apparently it’s pretty safe overall as long as you keep clear of the protests (and probably any of the political leaders and their houses!) – have a good and safe trip!

  • Kim Vergara

    I really miss the old Suan Lum Night Market. I’ve only been to Bangkok on 3 short trips, the last time being an extended layover of 2 nights for our honeymoon. My husband and I wanted to go back, this time to bring our little toddler. I guess we’ll postpone until things settle down.

    • Jac

      Yeah Suan Lum was one of my old favourite haunts – apparently Asiatique absorbed a number of the stores from there and is supposed to ‘replace’ Suan Lum! I’m not sure how settled things will get given their political situation, but here’s hoping for everyone’s sake they don’t get any worse!

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