Bangkok Old City offers plenty of opportunities for shopping, but like the area name suggests these are more traditional than the mega malls in the city centre, with plenty of markets to discover. Selling everything from fresh flowers to sacred amulets, the Bangkok Old Town markets are still used by locals, and it is this authenticity that makes them so popular with visitors. Because these shopping spots aren’t tourist attractions the prices haven’t been inflated either, so you get not only a genuine experience but also the chance to bag some bargains.
If markets aren’t your thing, then a great place to shop are the boutiques along the Khao San Road, which include some of the best tailors in the city. Here’s our run down of the best shopping spots in Bangkok Old City.
- Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Tour
- Banyan Tree's Apsara Dinner Cruise
- Vertigo & Moon Bar Rooftop Dining
- Ayutthaya Ancient Capital Tour with River Cruise
- Shangri-La Hotel's Buffet Dinner Cruise
- Bridge on the River Kwai & Historic Railway Tour
- Siam Niramit Dinner Show
- Calypso Bangkok Cabaret Show
- Chao Phraya River Dinner Cruise
- Grand Palace & Emerald Buddha Half-Day Tour
Bangkok Flower Market , known as Pak Klong Talad to locals, is the largest fresh flower market in the city. Catering to wholesale and retail customers, the market has a variety of different blooms, from local varieties of orchids and roses to plants imported from around the world. There are mainly sold in packs of 50 or 100 flowers in each, and an armful of flowers costs less than a bunch would in the west. Open 24/7, the market really comes to life after midnight.
To get a real taste of how the business works then it’s best to come at around 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning. At this time deliveries start arriving from as far away as Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, and the riot of colour and friendly chatter is a sight worth getting up early for. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 24 hours, more popular during night-time
- Location: Chak Phet Road, the Memorial Bridge or Saphan Phut Chao Phraya pier
- How to get there: Taxi or Tuk Tuk
In the evenings (except Wednesdays) the district near Memorial Bridge (known locally as Saphan Phut) on the east bank of the river is filled with vendors selling T-shirts, sneakers, jeans, related accessories, DVDs, CDs, video games and souvenirs. Because this market is predominantly set up for the locals, prices tend to be cheap and bartering is usually not required. Like many markets in Bangkok, there is of course counterfeit clothing from brands such as Ralph Lauren, Armani, Fred Perry.
That’s not all though, some young designers who are just started out have stalls here and there are plenty of stalls and open air restaurants to grab a bite to eat at. Saphan Phut is popular with teenagers and students. It opens from 17:30 (or later on a rainy day) and stalls usually close around midnight.
- Opening Hours: 17:30 - 24:00 (closed on Wednesdays)
- Location: The Memorial Bridge or Saphan Phut Chao Phraya pier
Banglampoo (or Banglamphu) Market first set up its stalls in the '80s, and is another popular place to find a bargain, again targeting locals rather than visitors Most of the goods for sale are inexpensive Thai products. This includes almost everything from jeans, T-shirts, shorts, to well-known brand sneakers.
The quality can vary, so be sure to check a product thoroughly before you hand over your baht. There are a handful second-hand bookstores which sell European literature, meaning you can top up on your holiday reading. There are also an impressive number of internet cafes, which are still popular despite the rise in mobile internet.
- Opening Hours: 08:00 – 18:00
- Location: Banglamphu Market, Jakkapong Road (north of Khao San Road)
If shopping is your game then Bo Bae should be the name on your lips. This is the place to visit if you’ve got an extra suitcase to fill and don’t want to spend a fortune. It’s rather like the more famous Pratunam Market: a centre of wholesale clothing. It’s been running for over 30 years, and there are over 1,000 shops within the Bo Bae Tower.
Head outside to the open-air market along Padung Krung Kasem canal for even more bargains. There’s everything you could possibly imagine here, from wigs to diamante flip flops. Don’t have enough luggage allowance? Shipping services are also available for those who want to send packages back home.
- Opening Hours: 06:00 - 18:00
- Location: Krung Kasem Road, near Price Palace Bangkok Hotel
Tha Maharaj is one of only a handful of shopping malls located in Bangkok’s historic Old City. Walking distance from many of the capital’s most famous sights such as Wat Pho and the Grand Palace, Tha Maharaj also benefits from an idyllic riverside location, with a good lineup of cafes, restaurants and bars taking advantage of the handsome views across the water. Tha Maharaj has its very own pier so arriving by boat is the most popular way to reach the mall, although if you’re on a sightseeing trip, Tha Maharaj mall is simple to reach on foot around 10 minutes away from The Grand Palace. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 10:00-22:00 daily
- Location: Tha Maharaj, 11/1, Maharaj Rd., Bangkok
- Tel: +66(0)2 024 1393
Blurring the line between museum and shopping experience, this store sells religious icons and amulets relating to the Buddhist religion. Larger than many of the others in the area, it is easy to spot thanks to the large bronze Buddha statues displayed near the entrance. Most of these are probably going to be outside your price range, but there are some smaller items for sale as well.
After you’ve admired Charoen Chaikarnchang’s collection head towards the back of the shop and watch as craftsmen create the statues from scratch, painstakingly putting the final touches to these important symbols. Their work is so well-regarded that they produce Buddha images for some of the most important temples in Thailand.
- Opening Hours: 09:00 - 17:00
- Address: 87 Soi Nava, Bamrung Muang Road
- Tel: +66 (0) 2 222 4800
It can be hard to pick tailors when you head to Khao San Road in Bangkok’s Old City, especially given that many of them promise you Italian wool for only a hundred dollars. But if you’re looking for something extra special, a shop that comes with plenty of positive referrals and reviews, and that even made the National Geographic Magazine's 'Top 10 Best Tailors in the World' then James International Fashion is the place to go.
They make suits as well as dresses and other items. This four-storey shop stocks around 3,000 different quality fabrics and textiles. These include English flannels and worsteds, Scottish tweeds, fine cashmere, French gabardines, silk mohair from Italy and colourful Thai silk.
- Opening Hours: 08:30 - 19:00
- Address: 439/1 Sukhothai Road
- Tel: + 66 (0) 2 668 2993-5
Although amulets aren’t strictly supposed to be for sale, it is possible to trade them at Bangkok’s oldest market, and one that is extremely popular for those hoping to buy religious artefacts and symbols. Amulets are small icons that depict Buddha or famous monks and are usually crafted from clay, bronze or wood, although it is possible to get gold and silver amulets. Displayed in glass cabinets, it’s worth knowing a little about Buddhism if you want to make a serious purchase, as some of the amulets change hands for tens of thousands of baht whilst some are only worth your smallest note.
As well as religious figures you can also buy holy tusk and antlers, the dentures that were once worn by well-known abbots and small statues. Tha Chang is popular for those worshipping at the temples in the vicinity including the Emerald Buddha.
- Opening Hours: 08:00 - 18:00
- Location: Tha Chang Pier
Most of those who frequent this market are on the hunt for second-hand shoes and trainers from famous brands as well as the original creative printed T-shirts designed by students of art faculties from nearby Thammasat and Srirpakorn universities. The list of goods doesn’t stop there. You will also find women’s and men’s clothing, leather handbags, accessories, interior decorating items, musical instruments, books, postcards, and handmade souvenirs.
If you want a glimpse into your future then some of Bangkok’s many fortune tellers gather here, and those who speak decent English will advertise this fact. A card reading can start at around 100 baht, but it’s probably not worth the extra money if they offer to rid you of any bad luck.
- Opening Hours: 10:00 - 19:00
- Location: Tha Prachan Pier
This market is located on the west side of the river, near the famous Siriraj Hospital, and it has its very own boat pier stop (no10). It’s tricky to navigate as the streets are narrow and hawkers and motorbikes will often disturb your exploration, but it is worth a visit if you are looking for a genuinely Thai experience. The items here are typical of many Thai markets in Bangkok: t-shirts, shoes, bargain dresses and designer knock-offs.
The main reason to visit is the food, with a whole variety of cooking stalls selling pancakes and roti as well as freshly-squeezed juices and sticky chicken skewers.
- Opening Hours: 10:00 - 17:00
- Location: Wang Lang Pier, near Siriraj Hospital