What to look out for (and what to avoid) at Pantip Plaza, the most famous Bangkok electronics mall. Pantip Plaza is the mother of all IT shops in Thailand and has gained legendary status as the place to find new and used computers and accessories at rock-bottom prices. Occupying a rather featureless building on Petchaburi Road, Pantip Plaza has also gained notoriety because of the widespread practice of selling counterfeit software, DVDs… and more sordid material. The mall itself has certainly seen better days, but like an old auntie that always has lots of candy when you go to visit, Pantip Plaza is still pulling in the punters thanks to unbeatable bargains and cheap technical specialists for things like repairs and upgrades.
If it is your first visit to Pantip Plaza there are some things you should know to aid your experience, as well as a few things to be aware of. Here, we compile the Good, the Bad and the Ugly of this (in)famous electronics shopping mall.
Firstly, everything a technophile could possibly want can be found here – often several times over: laptops, tablets, software, cameras, parts, printers, digital cameras, MP3 players …you name it. Pantip Plaza shopping mall is where other traders from around the country go to buy at wholesale prices so cut out the middleman and buy direct from one of the countless stalls to pocket some significant savings or bag some added extras. The art of negotiation is alive and well in Pantip so even if the trader won’t budge on a particular price, you can always ask for some freebies. With so much competition for your custom, shops are usually willing to throw in a few extras to secure the sale.
Along with the smaller trading stalls, there are also two anchor stores: Hardware House on the mezzanine level and IT City covering the whole of the top floor. These stores sell at slightly higher prices than other shops, but they still offer decent discounts together with the added security of a manufacturer’s warranty and reliable after-sales service. Another great feature of Pantip Plaza is the bargain bins that can be found outside many stores, selling anything from cute and funky phone accessories, to USB flash drives and mouse pads. Some of these bargain bins sell items for as low as 20baht an item, so keep an eye out to grab a cheap memento.
It can be bit daunting knowing where to go and who to trust in Pantip Plaza as the entirety of this five storey mall is dedicated to computer and technology items. There are definitely well-trusted shops inside because it’s not that uncommon to see a distressed-looking Thai carrying their whole CPU into the techno-doctors that live inside; you know, the socially-awkward ones hunched over a computer with a fan the size of a small airplane propeller. The problem for some is that Pantip Plaza openly sells counterfeit products alongside genuine, top-of-the-range models, but it is important to remember that Pantip Plaza has been operating for well over 20 years and the vast majority of shopkeepers aren’t trying to rip anyone off. Although copies and counterfeit goods are common, in almost all circumstances the sales assistant will offer you both the copy and the genuine item and it is then up to the customer to decide. The secret is to take your time, and to compare prices.
A by now notorious element to the Pantip experience that only males will have experienced is the bunch of touts selling ‘naughty movies’. You will find them behind the food court on the second-storey, hanging around like a gang of errant schoolchildren. They will call at shoppers with a copy of Windows 8 in their hands, and then, in hushed tones, they will ask something like ‘you like naughty movie?’ and flip the box over to show an X-rated picture. Not what you want when you have just finished eating. They are harmless enough, although they are excellent readers of body language and even the slightest hesitation will be construed as interest and they might grab you by the wrist and bid you follow them. A repetition of ‘no thank you, no thank you’ is all that is needed: it’s illegal in Thailand, after all.
IT City, situated on the fifth floor, is the biggest IT store in Pantip Plaza, displaying and selling the latest equipment. Pleasingly, the store is well organized and less chaotic than other parts of the mall. Some of the staff speak English well and are ready to provide details of each item so it is a good place to go if you need specific information about a particular product. Most IT brands are well represented, and IT City is the surest place to buy from as it is a credible and established outlet.
All in All...
To put it simply, if you are looking for electronics equipment in Bangkok, Pantip Plaza is a must – especially if you're shopping on a budget. Even just for the experience it is well worth your time to explore the bright and flashing stalls and extensive variety of IT products offered, packed from floor to ceiling.
Pantip Plaza IT Mall
- Opening Hours: 10:00 - 21:00 (every day).
- Location: Petchaburi Road, opposite Pratunam's City Complex
- BTS: Chidlom (but still quite a walk)
- How to get there: From BTS Chidlom, either hire a tuk-tuk/taxi or walk ten minutes down Ratchadamri Road past Central World on your left, over the Saen Saeb canal and then left on Phetburi Road. Walk about two blocks, and Pantip Plaza should be on your left.