Hi there! Jo here. We’ve elected for me to take over blogging duties for this post due to the very reason that Bo has a terrible sense of direction, which can be described as hopeless. Well, I do have to add that she is getting better these days at driving around KL. Anyhow, I hope this post can help you if you are going to Bangkok for the first time, and will be targeted as such. Please feel free to correct me if I made any mistakes or add any information as this recent trip was also only my 3rd or 4th time there. Lets get started!
Chatuchak (Or Jatujak as it’s sometimes spelled)
Chatuchak is only open during the weekends, and stores generally open at 10am or later, and close by sunset, so you should plan your itineraries accordingly. Get a copy of this map here. Chatuchak is huge, and has so much to see, so do plan to spend the entire day here. Do bring cash as credit cards are not accepted here but there are ATMs around the area if you run short. The ATMs charge around THB130-150 per transaction if you are using a foreign ATM card or credit card.
From my experience, it is far more convenient and hassle free to go there by taxi. Taxi fares in Bangkok is pretty cheap, and you can hail a cab from pretty much anywhere in town, but remember to insist on asking them to go by meter! My recent taxi fare from my hotel in Sukumvit to Chatuchak only cost around THB90-100. Split amongst a few friends, it is very very reasonable.
If you choose to take public transportion, the best way to get there is by MRT (underground). If there aren’t any MRT stations close to you, hop on the BTS (skytrain) and interchange to the MRT. Take the MRT to Kamphaeng Phet station, which is the second last stop in the line. This is why I do not suggest this option. It takes about 30-35 minutes to get there from town, and costs around THB70 per pax if you have to interchange lines.
Where to start:
Well this depends on your shopping preferences. If you are into fashion/clothes/accessories, enter Chatuchak from Gate 1, or if you arrive by MRT, you are in prime position. I have highlighted areas in the map (RED) which sells clothes & accessories. Chatuchak is HUGE, so it’s quite important to start off in the right area, if not, you will walk all day, and get very disappointed when you don’t find what you’re looking for.
If you are looking for household items, decorations, kitchen ware, and etc, enter from the entrance to Jatujak Plaza. I’ve highlighted these areas in BLUE. You will also find all sorts of pet items, even live pets for sale in this area as well.
Where to eat:
Theres plenty of snack and drinks stalls all around Chatuchak so you don’t necessarily have to grab a bite beforehand. I’ve highlighted some areas in YELLOW where you can find stalls to sit down and have some local food if you bore of the snack stalls.
You can find many local designer labels here but do keep in mind that the prices here are generally a little bit higher than in Siam Square and other places. You can haggle on prices but they generally do not give u much of a discount. Most store attendants here are younger and speak very fluent English. You might even find some pieces in other places such as Siam Square and Platinum as many stores throughout Bangkok sell the same pieces.
Things to look out for are definitely clothes, accessories, hair accessories, and men’s t-shirts. Their men’s shirts and shoes can get a little pricey so I generally only buy printed or graphic tees which are around THB150-200 per piece. If you see something you like but can’t decide whether to get it or not based on the fact that it might be cheaper elsewhere, I would advise you not to think twice about items which seem more unique and handmade. If you are only staying in Bangkok for a few days, you might not get another chance to come back to Chatuchak.
Platinum Mall is a wholesale fashion mall, where the more you buy, the cheaper their prices! There are two wings in Platinum Mall, so do keep that in mind. The newer wing is much easier to navigate, and is organized by floors, so each floor sells a different category of goods. You can tell one from the other easily as there is a McDonald’s outside the new wing.
There is no convenient BTS or MRT station located close by, so you should plan your itinerary wisely. You can take the BTS to Siam station, and start off from Siam Paragon, then proceed to walk over to Central, and then make you way down to Platinum Mall. You should take the Skywalk whenever you can as its much more efficient as the streets might get very crowded sometimes. However, there are usually stalls set up all along the streets in the area selling clothes, food, snacks, and etc, so it is also a big part of the Bangkok experience.
I would generally do the opposite, as I would like to maximize my time at Platinum Mall. Sometimes we could spend an entire day here, and then come back again, so, we usually just take a cab directly to Platinum Mall. If your hotel is in the Pratunam area, just take a short walk here. My taxi fare from Sukumvit to Platinum Mall only cost THB70, whereas a BTS fare to Siam station would have cost THB25 per pax, not including a 15-20 minute walk to Platinum Mall. During our recent trip, we only spent about an hour here as we couldn’t find anything of interest. The clothes are different every few months so if you’re lucky you might find A LOT or nothing at all. I think we only found a pair of sandals and some t-shirts that we liked.
Haggle, haggle, and haggle. Most stores will usually give you a retail price and a wholesale price when you ask. The wholesale price is when you buy more than 1 or 2 pieces, depending on the stores. Things to look out for are clothes, sandals, slippers and unique bags or accessories. I do not really like the heels and wedges here as they seem kind of cheapish, but sometimes you do find some rare gems. Mens’ shoes can get rather pricey too, around THB1500 to THB2000, and for that price, I can get a good pair of loafers or shoes from Aldo or Topman when they are on sale. Prices here are some of the lowest you can find around Bangkok so feel free to go all out.
Where to eat:
There is a food court in Platinum Mall but I would avoid eating there. There’s always the option of McDonald’s and in Thailand, they serve pork burgers and spicy chicken winglets which are very good! If you prefer to try a local favorite, there is a shop that sells chicken rice just across the street. I’ve highlighted it in the map below. I honestly didn’t know it would even show up on Google Map, so I guess that goes to show how famous they are.
Siam Square is located right across the road from Siam Paragon so getting there is easy enough. If you find yourself in Paragon, just take the exit to the BTS station and you can then walk across and exit on the opposite end to avoid crossing the road beneath. I would recommend going in the afternoon or late afternoon because you can then take your time to browse the many stores and boutiques, and then in the evening, or generally when the sun starts to set, people start setting up their stalls along the main road that separates Siam Square and Paragon.
Things you can find are the latest trends, clothes, authentic imported pieces from labels such as American Apparel and Style Nanda (but they tend to be a little pricey), women’s shirts/blouses (there are just so many to choose from, from studded collar ones, to ones with all sorts of prints), leather satchels that seem to be very popular now (we saw some in neon colors, animals prints, etc), and accessories. The accessories here are generally cheaper that those in Chatuchak but are similar in quality.
Make sure you visit the road side stalls in the evening as they are cheaper than the stores and there is just so much to see! There is a digital mall located between soi 3 and 4, and you can find some cool and unique stuff such as customized Instax cameras, TONS of iPhone accessories (everyone here seems to use iPhones and Instagram), and Japanese purikura machines!
Where to eat:
Make sure you try Som Tam Nam which Bo has blogged about here. It’s located in soi 5 which is actually a narrow alley and I’ve highlighted it with a star on the map. They are famous for their mango salad and it is amazing. Do ask them to prepare your food less spicy if you prefer cause I found it quite spicy (I rate myself very highly on my chili consuming abilities, hehe).
Siam Paragon – Make sure you go to After You for their Shibuya Honey Toast! So damn good. Lots of other good dining options too.
Central World – Theres a very good modern Thai restaurant on the 7th floor, Nara. Voted best restaurant many years in a row.
Four faced Buddha – This famous shrine is located across the major intersection of Central World (I’ve highlighted it on the map; bottom right), just outside the Erawan Hotel. Buy your incense inside the shrine, next to the dancers’ podium as its 10X cheaper than the stalls outside… Learned my lesson…
OK, I figure I should contribute a bit in this post so here I am typing the conclusion. These are some tips and info that we gather from our own experiences since we have already been there 3 times within a year ==” We really hope it helps =)
So, have fun and eat more during your trip to Bangkok!