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.