Category Archives: shopping

Rod Fai Market

Rod Fai Market (Train Market) is in a way the opposite of Patpong Market. Whereas the latter has a vast array of fake goods, Rod Fai Market has a bewildering array of original goods and vintage goods. For anyone looking for something unique and not mass produced and corny this is the place to head.

A wide variety of things are sold at the Rod Fai market

A wide variety of things are sold at the Rod Fai market

The Rod Fai Market Has Moved

Originally the market was next to the railway lines at Chatuchak Market but in 2013 the market was closed because of the BTS sky train expansion. That was not the end of Rod Fai Market. It was moved to the suburb area of Srinakarin. At this location it is open 17.00 to midnight at the weekend.

And Another Second Similar Market has Also Opened

In January 2015 another vintage market along the lines of the original Train Market opened at Ratchada at a more central location that can be easily reached by the MRT (alight at Thailand Cultural Center station).

What is Different About the Rod Fai Market?

So what is at the Rod Fai Market? Well virtually anything that people collect, the stuff some people think are cool from leather jackets to 1950s Cadillacs. There are Japanese action dolls, French chandeliers, film cameras, replica guns, vintage jeans, coins, ceramics, stamps, coca cola bottles, Hawaiian dresses, odd bric-a-brac. This market is the closest you will get to Ebay. It is a cornucopia of the weird and unusual. It is stuff that has a value because it is not currently mass-produced; it is not main stream.

If you are looking for a special souvenir; for a quirky birthday present; for a home-moving present; for a gift for a loved one; for a killer club wear item then head to Rod Fai Mai.

A Night Out As Well As A Place To Shop

What really suits this market is that it is a night market. It is a place where you visit to hang out, have some food and soak up the atmosphere. In this way it is like Patpong – it is a night out. You could just as easily check out some great little eateries and hang out at little bar soaking up the atmosphere, admiring the devotion of collectors and otaku types.

rod fai market

There are collectables for sale at the Fod Fai Market

Location Of The Original Rod Fai Market

  • Srinakarin Soi 51, just behind Seacon Square Shopping Mall

Location of the New Fod Fai Market

  • Ratchada, near Thailand Cultural Center MRT Underground Station, behind Esplanade Shopping Mall.

Photos from: https://isaacloo.wordpress.com

Next read about Chatuchak Weekend Market

Boutique Shopping Suggestions

MBK-tuk-tuk
Boutique shopping is difficult to exactly define. It could be shopping in small shops (boutique means ‘small shop’ in French). It could be a shopping experience that is personalized. And finally it could mean visiting shops that are stylish and unique. No doubt, boutique shopping in Bangkok contains some of all three types of experience.

There are plenty of one-off shops in all shapes and sizes – uber cool, antique old, indoors, outdoors, big and small.

There are the smart fashion shops and tech shops in Siam Square. In Chinatown there are crowded backstreets filled with the weird and wonderful for sale. Night markets such as Patpong, Pratunam and Khao San offer lots of opportunity for those looking to browse: there is a glittering array of clothes, souvenirs, jewellery, watches, tablets, DVDs and bric-brac.

Shopping Malls generally aren’t thought of as boutique as they are big and give a standardized context to big brand shops. It is an experience designed to be monotonous, and slightly depressing in its drabness. Not so in Bangkok. Shopping Malls in Bangkok are full of life and exuberance, each with its own personality.

Each of the major shopping malls in Bangkok are geared to slightly different consumer profiles. It is thus a chance to personalize your shopping time. In general, Siam Paragon is a luxury mall with fashion boutiques, high-tech gadgets and expensive sports cars. They also have the biggest aquarium in the country, ‘Siam Ocean World’.

Central World, also in Siam, appeals to the younger set. There’s an ice skating rink. The shops sell Timberland, Izzue and Gap. There’s plenty here to hold the attention of 20 and 30 somethings.

MBK is for those looking for a bargain on just about anything. It is like an indoor mega-market with over 2,000 shops selling everything. If you are looking for something particular that is hard to find, MBK is a good place to start.

That is unless it is digital. The home of digital is Pantip Plaza. It is a mega mall just for computers, IT, cameras and all things digital. You can find computer parts in buckets and build yourself a computer for just a few dollars if you know what you are looking for. There is also lots of rare photography equipment to be found at Pantip. The experience is made more bewildering and somehow cool by the noticeable presence of monks testing their Buddhist resolve against alluring smart phones.

If you like outdoor crowds the ultimate Bangkok shopping experience is a visit to the Weekend Market at Chatuchak. It covers 27 acres and is one of the world’s biggest weekend markets. It is a maze of fascinating little shops selling textiles, carved wares, lighting, home décor, antiques, plants, art work and pets. It can be frustrating to try and go back to a shop you had visited before. Such is the souk like feel of the place. Around the outside of the market is a festival atmosphere of bars, musicians, food vendors and cafes.

For those looking for a more sedate shopping experience there are several good department stores in Bangkok. Robinsons is charmingly old-fashioned but has good prices and a very handy attached supermarket popular with ex-pats. There is also the Japanese department store, Zen. They have trendy brands and high prices but great for a girl’s splurge. You can also find promotions on some top brands. The prices at Zen guarantee a quiet and exclusive shopping experience.

From the above it is clear that you can find a wonderful cornucopia of shops in Bangkok; something for everyone. Doing your research before you leave your hotel can make your boutique shopping experience fun. However, just stepping out and heading down Siam can lead to some great discoveries.

And of course when you have had enough of boutique shopping there is always dinner destinations to consider.

Jim Thompson House

Jim Thompson House

Not the biggest attraction in Bangkok, but to my mind one of the best.

The Jim Thompson House is a wonderful example of Thai architecture right in the centre of commercial Bangkok. The house is made up of a collection of traditional Thai teak wood buildings lovingly reconstructed on the canalside near Siam Square. The 6 structures each come from different parts of Thailand with the oldest building dating back to the early 19th Century.

The house was created by American businessman Jim Thompson in the 1950s. The project owes much to Jim’s early career as a New York architect. When the Second World War broke out Jim embarked on a new career in the service of the Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the CIA, undertaking intelligence activities all over the world. When the war ended Jim ended up in Bangkok and after a stint redesigning the Oriental Hotel he started a business exporting Thai Silk. He is credited with turning Thai silk into an international brand and the Jim Thompson Company remains today a major exporter of Thai silk products around the world. There is a shop at the Jim Thompson House where you can buy high quality silk products.

During his time in Bangkok, Jim Thompson was a major player in the local social scene. The house was built as a setting for his famous dinner parties attended by the rich and famous, great and good, as they passed through Bangkok. The house is a major throwback to the romance of colonial Indo-China. It is now a museum kept in pretty much the same state as when Jim left it. He disappeared under mysterious circumstances in the Malaysian jungle in 1967 adding to the legend of Jim Thompson.

Jim Thompson was a voracious collector of art and antiquities and they adorn the house. He also gave careful thought to the garden which I can only describe as being uniquely Asian and jungle-like.

There is a pretty good restaurant at the Jim Thompson House as well,which is fitting considering his preoccupation with throwing dinner parties. It’s open for lunch from 11am to 5pm and dinner from 7pm to 11pm. You have a choice of sitting inside or on the verandah by the pond.

To get to the Jim Thompson House take the sky train to National Stadium BTS station. It’s a short walk from there. The address is 6 Soi Kaseman 2, Rama 1 Road. It’s open from 9am to 5pm and costs 100 Thai Baht for adults ($3.3) and 50 Thai Baht for children and students.

If you fancy seeing some nice Thai architecture, and fulfilling your dreams of experiencing the glamour of colonial Indo-China, it’s well worth the trip.

Pantip Plaza


If you are looking for an interesting cultural experience while you are in Bangkok and you feel you have done enough of temples and museums it might be worth your while making your way to Pantip Plaza (also spelt ‘Panthip Plaza’) on New Phetchaburi Road.

It is a place that is famous for all the wrong reasons. There is a famous Thai pop song where the chorus is ‘I don’t want to go to Pantip’. It’s a love song and the male singer repeats these words to his lover because his ex-girlfriend works in the infamous plaza. The real infamy of Panthip Plaza comes from the fact that much of the giant indoor shopping mall is devoted to selling illegal copies of copyrighted material. There are not only DVDs, CDs, computer games and software but also incredibly cheap iPods, smart phones, tablet computers and lots of other gadgets in the giant indoor mall on offer. It is all available for purchase at very cheap prices. There are also cheap computers made by people such as Acer. Any software program can be added for a few dollars. Pantip is undoubtedly a place that exists due to the hacking abilities of Thais and the genius of Chinese reverse engineering.

The morality of such a place is very much open to debate. It is very curious to observe the Thai authorities persistent blind eye to the money making plaza.

However, it is not the illegality of Pantip Plaza that makes me find the place fascinating. Rather it is the experience of wandering down the rows taking in the sight of buckets filled with computer parts. Any part for any type of computer can be found in Pantip Plaza. If you searched hard enough you could probably find a ZX81.

In hundreds of tiny workshops are to be found Thais dismantling computers, building computers and repairing computers. Much of their work seems to be data retrieval from damaged hard drives. They work methodically as the customers watch in hope that their photos, music collections and other valuable data can be recovered.

In another section it is great to stroll through the stalls that sell mobile phones and spy on saffron robed monks that are studiously looking at the phones. Although these men have sworn an oath to shun materialism they are obviously seduced by new touchscreen technology.

If you need a business card, a brochure printed, a T-shirt designed or any other type of printed media the stalls in Pantip Plaza offer great value for money. Care, however, should be taken as quality dramatically varies from shop to shop.

For anyone remotely interested in technology, seeing another side of Buddhism or in need of the latest version of Photoshop, Pantip Plaza is the place to go. Unlike the singer in the song I am more than happy to spend a few hours taking in the sites of Pantip Plaza.

Siam Paragon – Bangkok shopping centre

Siam Paragon is the luxury shopping centre in Bangkok. With a retail space of over 400,000 sqm and over 270 shops Siam Paragon will satisfy the cravings of the most demanding shopper. More than that Siam Paragon boasts a large number of leisure activities for people of all ages. Think of Siam Paragon as a full day out in itself in a clean comfortable air-conditioned environment – just the thing for a hot summer’s day.

Siam Paragon is conveniently located in the centre of Bangkok’s main shopping district: Siam Square. It is surrounded by several other shopping cnetres such as MBK and Centralworld. The nearest public transport stop is Siam Square BTS (sky train) which is connected to the centre by a link bridge. Opening hours are 10am to 10pm.

The main attractions are Siam Ocean World (the largest aquarium in South East Asia), the 15 theater cineplex with English language movies, the Gourmet market (8,000 sqm international food market), the Department Store, the luxury car showrooms, and the 5,000 seater concert hall. In addition to this there are lots of restaurants, including international brands like McDonald’s and KFC.

Broken down by floor, Siam Paragon contains the following:

Basement Floor: Siam Ocean World (Aquarium)

Ground Floor: Gourmet Market

Main Floor: Luxury products

1st Floor: Fashion

2nd Floor: Lifestyle & Leisure

3rd Floor: Living & Technology

4th Floor: IT

5th Floor: Entertainment zone

Siam Paragon is not the place to go to buy fakes. They sell only genuine products here. Ferrari, Lamborghini, Maserati, Rolex, Gucci, Louis Vuitton and just about every other luxury brand you can think of have branches here. If you want more affordable items to buy then head across the road to MBK. However, Siam Paragon offers great window shopping if you don’t have mega bucks to spend.

Pak Klong Talat (Bangkok Flower Market)

Video courtesy of TENFACE hotel.

Pak Klong Talat is Bangkok’s largest flower market. It is located near the river in Chinatown, just South of Wat Pho on the Chak Phet Road. The easiest way to get there, unless you take a taxi, is to go by the Chao Phraya Express boat which you can pick up from Sathorn Pier by the Saphan Taksin BTS (sky train) station. The closest stop to the market is Rajinee Pier. Be sure to take the ‘no flag’ boat, as the other boats with green or blue flags don’t stop at Rajinee Pier.

The market is open 24 hours a day, every day except Mondays. For the very dedicated the best time to visit is between 3am and 4am when the deliveries come in.

Pak Klong Talat means ‘Mouth of the canal market’ in Thai. The first market on this site, in the reign of Rama I (1782 – 1809), was a floating market literally in the mouth of the canal. Over time the market migrated to the banks of the river where the main product for sale became fish. By the 1950s the fish wholesale business had moved to a market on the outskirts of the City and the market changed to a centre for flowers and vegetables.

The market is a wonderful, vibrant and colorful place to visit. It is by no means a tourist attraction – this a busy functioning market frequented by florist, purchasers from the hotels, housewives through to the poor of Bangkok who come here to buy garlands for sale on the street.

The majority of the market, which spans across several streets, is wholesale flower stalls erupting in vivid colours. There are also shops selling flower related items like vases and imitation floral displays. In addition there is an amazing variety of fruit and vegetables on sale. Everything here is generally sold for a very cheap fixed cost – great for those weary of bargaining.

Visitors will enjoy going to the market for as much of a cultural experience as for the shopping. Flowers play an important part in Thai culture. At the market you will find all kinds of arrangements for everything from weddings to funerals to other religious ceremonies. There are designs from different parts of Thailand and designs from different strata in society, including some ‘royal’ designs. The range of products is bewildering as are their different meanings. If you can find a helpful Thai person to take you around and explain all these different purposes and meanings this will give you a fascinating insight into Thai culture.

River City

River City is a four storey shopping centre on the banks of the Chao Phraya river. This is the place in Bangkok to buy art and antiquities, with the largest collection in South East Asia. As well as the antiques and art, not to mention other luxury products, this is a place to come and enjoy riverside dining and drinking. It also serves as a pier for no fewer than 8 different cruise boats.

Shopping

There are 180 shops in River City, around 100 focusing on art and antiques. This is a good place if you want to find everything under one roof. The five floors contain the following:

1st Floor: Coffee shops, Thai and French restaurants, Jewelry shops, Leather shops, Silk shops, Tailors and Souvenir shops.

2nd Floor: River view restaurant, Jewelry shops, Silk shops, Tailors, Antiques

3rd Floor: Antiques, Art shops and decor

4th Floor: Antique & Auction house

5th Floor (roof top): River view cocktail bar (Balco Bar) and 1,000 sqm River City Bar-B-Que Corner

A word of warning in respect of the antique shops – not everything here is genuine. Some of the products on sale are reproductions and some of the items on sale are highly overpriced. Be careful before you part with your money and remember to bargain, even if a fixed price is advertised. Walk around and look at what is on offer before you make a purchasing decision. There are some really good items on offer but you need to search them out.

If you are a serious purchaser of art and antiques then the place to go is the 4th floor auction house. Auctions are held the first Saturday of every month. The items on sale are independently verified (no fakes here) and the auction house has a very good reputation: it has been in operation for over 25 years and more than 300 auctions have been held.

River Cruises

There are lots of different cruises on offer, at different times of the day. They start at 7.30am and departures run through to 8pm in the evening. The cruises range in duration from the evening dinner cruises of 2 hours to full day trips of 8 hours, such as the day cruise to Ayutthaya for 1,500 Thai Baht ($50).

Getting There

River City is situated on Chareon Krung Road (soi 24) in China Town. The nearest mass transit stop is Hualampong MRT (metro) station. You could walk it in about 30 minutes to River City but there are a lot of roads to cross and the walk isn’t that scenic. I have done it and it wasn’t that pleasant.

A better way to get there is by boat. You can get the Chao Phraya Express Boat, the stop is Si Phraya Pier. You can also take the free River City shuttle boat. The shuttle boat makes the following stops: Sathron Pier (by Saphan Taksin skytrain stop), Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Shangri-La Hotel, Peninsula Hotel, Millenium Hilton Hotel and Royal River Hotel.

Asiatique – New river front shopping complex


The ‘Asiatique The Riverfront‘ is the latest lifestyle mall in Bangkok. Situated on the banks of the Chao Phraya river, on the Chareonkrung Road, this new mall is set to become the premier shopping/entertainment complex in Bangkok.

The new mall is set on a historic site and utilizes some long neglected buildings dating back to the early 1900s. Originally the site was the business base of the East Asiatic Company, owned by a Danish National, which exported Teak to Europe in the early 1900s. The original pier and the sawmill have been restored and incorporated into the shopping complex.

The first phase of the project has been very recently completed with its grand opening night taking place in April 2012. When the Asiatic is fully completed it will cover an area of 28,880 acres with 1,500 shops, 6 stages, 40 restaurants and a host of other activities. Open from 5pm to midnight every day the idea behind the shopping mall is that it will combine shopping, eating, drinking and live entertainment in a single location. Calypso Ladyboy Cabaret and Joe Louis Puppet Theatre are both signed up to take purpose built theatre buildings. Sounds great to us and it is has every prospect of being very successful.

The finished project is split into four sections, or districts as the developers (TCC Ltd) call them:

  • Chareonkrung District – 1,000 boutique shops
  • Town Square District – Food quarter, beer garden and outdoor activity centre
  • Factory District – 55 fashion shops in an old sawmill
  • Waterfront District – Restaurants and wine bars on the waterfront

A number of shops, restaurants and bars have already opened for business and are doing a brisk trade. If you are interested in doing business in Bangkok, we reckon a retail unit at the Asiatic would be a good bet as you are guaranteed good levels of passing trade.

Kacha Kacha

Open in April 2012 in the first phase of the Asiatique, this Japanese Teppanyaki is a superb new restaurant. The interiors are fantastic – created by Japanese craftsman in ‘izakaya’ style. The menu of Kacha Kacha lists near on 100 items including yakitori (char grilled meat on skewers), teppanyaki (grilled meat and vegetables), okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancake) and yakisoba (fried noodle). The dishes are reasonably priced with yakisoba ad okonomiyaki at around 200 Thai Baht ($6.7) a plate and yakitori at 30 to 60 Thai baht ($1 to $2).

Flann O’Brien

Another new opening at the Asiatic is this 400 seater Irish gastro pub with a menu ranging from salads to burger, pies, stews, grills and Thai dishes. It’s pretty good actually. Irish mains, like Guinness Pie, are around 350 Thai Baht ($12.5) and the full Irish all day breakfast is 329 Thai Baht ($11).

Sampeng Lane


Sampeng Lane, or Soi Wanit 1 as it has been renamed, is a narrow street running for about 1km in Bangkok’s China Town. From 9am to 6pm the street hosts a lively and diverse wholesale market which is well worth a visit for an authentic slice of Thai life and some good shopping. Getting there involves either a taxi ride, or some walking and a bit of perseverance. The nearest stop on the modern public transit system is the Hua Lamphong stop on the metro line and then a 10 minute walk. You can also get there by the Chao Praya Express boat stopping at either Ratchawongse or Memorial Bridge Piers. You can pick up the Chao Praya Express Boat from the Taksin Bridge Pier which is by the Saphan Taksin sky train station.

Sampeng Lane has a long and interesting history closely connected to the permanent Chinese community which appeared in the late 1700s. The Chinese had close trading links with Thailand at the time and some merchants settled in the City. Whilst the other city dwellers at the time favoured living on boats on the river, the Chinese started building brick houses on solid ground, with the centre of this community being Sampeng Lane. By the late 1800s Sampeng Lane had become a notorious centre for vice in the City with the street featuring numerous opium dens, gambling houses and brothels. Even today the term ‘woman of Sampeng’ is Thai slang for a prostitute of Chinese origin.

Today the opium dens and brothels have gone, and what remains is the city’s most vibrant wholesale market. If you go bear in mind you need to buy in quantities of 5 or 6 items or more. The price of many items is often fixed and marked on the products so no haggling is necessary. If you have lots of presents to buy, perhaps lots of small gifts for colleagues in the office back home, this is a good place to come and shop. If you have visited the tourist markets of Patpong and the Sukhumvit Road this will also be interesting for you as you can check out what mark ups the traders are putting on their goods, as more likely than not this is where they came to buy what they are selling.

The market is roughly divided into sections. At the very eastern end you find lots of shoe shops, then moving east you find accessories like jewellery, watches and hats etc. Towards the centre of Sampeng Lane you find stalls selling things like ceramics, lanterns and paper products. As you travel to the western end you start to move out of China Town and into Little India and the choice of products increasingly turns to fashion and fabrics. For many shoppers this textile and fabric market area, with around 1,000 shops and stalls, is the highlight of the market with great bargains on wholesale silks and cottons. Right at the far western end the street turns into an Indian bazaar.

Have fun and work your way patiently through the crowds. It can be a bit intimidating, but remember the street is regularly bisected by streets where you can duck in and out of the market to eat, drink, rest or respond to any other call of nature.

Chatuchak Weekend Market

Chatuchak Weekend Market, located in the north of central Bangkok, lays claim to being the world’s largest weekend market. With an estimated 8,000 stalls and 200,000 visitors the scale of the market is breath taking. If you can’t find what you are looking for in Chatuchak Weekend Market, you probably can’t find it in Bangkok.

Opening Hours at Chatuchak Weekend Market

This is definitely one of the must-see destinations in Bangkok, even if you aren’t there to buy anything. It is a great place to eat, drink and people watch. The market is really easy to get to by both the Skytrain (Mo Chit station) and the Metro system (MRT Chatuchak Park station). It is fully open from 09.00 to 18.00 on Saturday and Sunday, and some sections are open during the week.

Finding Your Way Around Chatuchak Weekend Market

The market is something of a maze. The market organisers have tried to help visitors navigate their way around the market by splitting it into 27 sections, each supposedly having a concentration of same product stalls, such as art or furniture. With the exception of the pets sections and the plants section, the types of product are all mixed up and you need to search around to find what you want. The split into sections is only useful if you are trying to locate a particular stall or if you are trying to navigate your way in or out by the free maps which are distributed at the main entrance.

Busy Market

If you are visiting for the first time, a word of caution: this is a hot, noisy, busy market and you might want to avoid the heat of the midday sun and take regular breaks. Perhaps better to visit both days of the weekend and do shorter sessions, rather than spend a whole day there.

Value For Money

In terms of value for money Chatuchak Weekend Market isn’t always the best place to go. You can probably buy things cheaper in MBK or Chinatown. This is particularly true of the shops on the main throughway. The prices at these shops are expensive. However, to be fair when you go farther into the market, away from the main throughway, you can get much better value for money.

Variety

Where the market comes into its own is the sheer variety of what is on sale. Not only is this a ‘one stop shop’ it is difficult to find the same things for sale elsewhere in Bangkok. A lot of the better stalls are outlets for small factories, artisans and artists. They may have small outlets elsewhere in the city but you would be hard pushed to find them. For creative artwork at the lower end of the price scale, the market is the best place to shop in Bangkok. If you are looking for a handmade quality souvenirs for your own home, or someone else, then the best range and quality is to be found in Chatuchak Weekend Market.

Location of Chatuchak Weekend Market

Next read about Where to Leave Your Luggage When Visiting Chatuchak Weekend Market