CJ Rodriguez

WHEN travelers say Bangkok is a shoppers’ paradise, they’re not kidding.

No matter how much your shopping budget is, you will get to buy valuable fashion finds if you just allot enough time for the search and do it in your most comfortable footwear.

A lot of malls are in Pratunam. You may want to start the search there or better yet, find a hotel in the area.You can get around by taxi or the tuktuk, which Thailand is famous for.

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According to the information provided in the maps distributed by the Tourism Authority, taxis should follow a metered rate. As for the tuktuk, you must discuss the fare with the driver before heading to your destination. The fare must never be more than 200 Baht per trip. Although it is not air-conditioned, the tuktuk allows you to get the feel of being in Bangkok, traffic and all. So you should try it out.

To go to other places, one may take the city buses or the MRT, which operates from 6 a.m. to midnight.

However, most of the malls are of walking distance so walking is an option. Just be wary of people approaching you and suggesting for you to go places.

Bargain hunters can head first to The Platinum Fashion Mall, which has more than 1,000 stores selling clothes, bags, accessories and souvenirs. Buyers can get the items at wholesale prices if they get two or three pieces. Don’t hesitate to haggle for the price. You will need a few hours to go around the five-storey building.

Those who go for leading brands can go to Central World, which houses stores like Rolex, Tissot, Adidas Originals, Calvin Klein, FCUK, Liz Claiborne, Guy Laroche, Playboy, Benetton, Chaps, Guess, Hush Puppies, Kipling, Morgan, Esprit, Giordano and Lacoste, among others.

On one side of Central World is a department store called Zen, which sells artsy and funky accessories and home furnishings. On the other side of Central World is another department store called Isetan.

Another mall is Siam Paragon, which is near the Siam Square main skytrain station.  It houses brands like Mac, Shu Uemura, Charriol and Kenneth Cole, to name a few. It also has branches of McDonalds, KFC and Burger King—food places which could give comfort to those who are not into Thai food. However, there are also a lot of restaurants serving Thai cuisine at a wide price range.

Beside Siam Paragon is the Siam Center, which caters to a younger market and is home to branches of Monkey See, Levis, Von Dutch and Rip Curl. Try asking for discounts available for tourists but always bring proof of identity and travel and remember the address of your hotel since sales clerks need the information for verification.

Another exciting destination for bargain-hunters is MBK Center in Pathumwan. There are a lot of stores selling Thai silk, souvenirs, accessories and clothes. There are also stores selling mobile phones, digital cameras and gadgets. Again, you can haggle for the price and buy at wholesale rates.   

But around Bangkok, there are a lot of night markets and sidewalk bazaars even near the malls. The only downside is that you don’t get to fit the clothes you want to buy. So it’s best to “know thyself” or better yet, to bring a handy tape measure to make sure you buy the ones that you can wear. Clothes that are sold at P400 to over P1,000 here only cost between P150 to P300 in the sidewalk stalls.

While visiting the malls, you may get a chance to immerse yourself in Bangkok’s culture and arts in a visit to the Bangkok Art and Culture Center, which is in the area. There you can see artworks in different media.

Another must-visit is the Patpong district, which is known for night entertainment bars featuring female dancers with “unique” shows. Just make sure you check the entrance fee before entering any bar. Tourists are warned about the “overpricing” of some bars once the customers are already inside.  

For a more quiet experience, you could check out the temples or “wats” in Bangkok.

One of the more famous ones is the Wat Pho, which is where you can find the Reclining Buddha. It is the biggest wat in Bangkok. The gold Buddha is said to be 46 meters long and 15 meters high. It illustrates the passing of the Buddha into nirvana. You can take photos inside the temple. However, you have to leave your footwear outside so it’s best to wear something that’s easy to remove.  

Around the grounds of Wat Pho, there are about 1,000 Buddha statues.  

Beside Wat Pho is the Grand Palace, the city’s most famous landmark and features impressive Thai architecture.

When visiting temples, tourists are warned not to talk to anyone on the street especially those offering tours to other wats. They are usually part of a scam.

Aside from the malls and the temples, you can also try Bangkok’s river cruises and visit its beautiful parks which are very accessible.