Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Bangkok Shopping Tips

Dear friends,

Sorry for another late post. The caged bird got to go Bangkok with her mother and her friend for 6 days at the end of last month. Between the Singapore trip, the moving back home, the wallowing in self-pity and the trip, I have had the busiest time! So, anyway, before I forget the details of the Bangkok trip, let me give you (and myself) some tips to having an affordable and enjoyable shopping trip to Bangkok.

1. Get cheap air tickets

- My mom and I had decided to go to Bangkok since last year. We booked the AirAsia tickets last November for only RM 6. Of course airport tax and fuel surcharge and what-nots came up to RM 270 per person...but the RM 270 is for a two way ticket. When I thought I couldn't go with my mom last April, I had wanted to book the same flights for my sis (as the tickets are non-transferable) and it would have cost us RM 600++. So, book the tickets early!

2. Travel by taxi (even to and from the airport)

- Yup, most of us would think that taking the tuk-tuk would be cheaper, but in actual fact, the taxi is often the cheaper option. The Thai taxis are almost all very comfortable and trustworthy. The starting price is at 35 baht which is about RM 3.50. A helpful fellow Malaysian told me to go to the 4th floor of the airport (the departure hall) and take a taxi from there. This is because most taxis at the departure hall are waiting for customers to go back to the city and would charge slightly cheaper and according to the meter compared to the ones waiting at the arrival hall (which I read somewhere on the internet that you have to buy tickets or coupons to board). Maybe those taxis waiting at the arrival hall are those limousines or minivans (?). Don't bother asking for directions from the officers in the airport because they will direct you to the coupon-ed taxis. Just go to the 4th floor and walk out of the airport. You will see lots of taxis waiting there. The taxi fare from the airport to the city inclusive of toll is about 200-250 baht. The taxi fare from the city to airport might set you back at between 300 to 500 baht because most taxis do not want to go there.

Taking the metered taxis around the city from shopping mall to shopping mall will be less than 100 baht at all times. The tuk-tuk will charge you at least 50 baht per person even for short distances. Don't be lured by touts who charge 10 baht per person to any shopping malls because they will first drive you to jewellery or silk factories that will give them coupons and benefits for bringing in customers. Always, ALWAYS, flag down taxis with a red light on as this will signal that they are using the meter and also that they are available.

3. Get a hotel near the shopping area

- My father's friend recommended Bangkok Palace. We got a Deluxe Room which is about RM 250 per night. But you can actually get it cheaper over the internet. The hotel is only a 10 minutes walk to the Pratunam shopping district where we did most of our shopping.

4. Exercise

- This is to prep you up for a lot of walking in Bangkok. Bangkok utilizes its spaces so well that a shopping mall half the size of MidValley Megamall may have up to 3000 stalls/shops. And they have many, many malls in concentrated areas.

5. Plan to spend a weekend there

- The Chatuchak or Jatujak Weekend Market is a must-go for all! From pets to kitchen ware to toys, you name it, they have it! But get there early (preferably Saturday morning) to avoid the afternoon crowd and the price hike by some of the sellers.

6. Bring lots of money

- Shopaholics will die happily there! You have so much to choose from that no wonder it is a shopping haven if not THE shopping haven in South East Asia. The things are even cheaper than the things in China! And the sellers are not so rude too!

So, a summary of the places that I went to:

- I booked an 10 o'clock flight so that by the time we reached the city, it would be just nice to check into the hotel at 2. After a short rest, we went to Pratunam market. Pratunam area is a wholesale area. They have stuffy backlanes and dark alleys where tiny shops and stalls line the way selling mostly clothes. The market is sectioned so you will find clothes and only clothes in one area, tailors in another area, and shoes and bags and accessories in another area. Don't be fooled by the prices there though. Not so organized environment does not mean that they sell their goods at the lowest prices. If you are looking for things at a reasonable price and a more comfortable shopping experience there is a small shopping centre called Indra right next to the Pratunam market. You will find a food court there too.

- The second day, we went to the city. Bangkok authorities are very forward thinking in that they have a walkway called the Skywalk which stretches at least 4 kms in the directions that the Skytrain goes and connects ALL major shopping complexes in the city! The shopping complexes in the city are for those who are looking for more high-end products such as Jimmy Choo (ironic that he does not own an exclusive shop here), Ferragamo, Coach etc etc. Although you may not want to buy any of these things, it is worth a walk. Of course, being in the city we also went to the famed four-faced buddha in front of another shopping complex to offer some very expensive flowers. My advice, the Buddha will know your sincerity even if you don't offer the flowers sold at exorbitant prices outside.

The best thing about these seemingly expensive shopping malls is that they have huge supermarket and they sell so many different brands of things from so many countries that you would just wonder why you were so impressed by the things they have in Cold Storage at the Gardens. And they sell the things at reasonable prices too. The aunty bought a bag of 1kg glutinous rice (don't ask me why) and 2 guavas for less than RM 6!! The food court there may cost a bit more though.

Since we were not very interested in high-end products, we walked to a shopping mall called MBK (Moh Boon Krong or something like that). It is similar to Times Square but has more stalls in a smaller area. Things there are quite reasonably priced.

- On the third day, the aunty and I went to Pratunam area again but to a shopping mall called Platunum Mall. It is also a wholesale area but you can buy things separately or mix things up and get the wholesale price. Very worth the visit. Too bad I went with the Aunty who did not look very interested in the things that I was looking at and made me feel guilty for dragging her along for almost 4 hours before we sat down to have something to eat. (Shopaholics would understand the special energy that flows through their body when they see lots of good stuff at low prices that they do not need to sit, go to the toilet or eat =P)

At night, we went to a touristy area at the other side of the town called Suan Lum Night Market. If you are looking for the touristy stuff, you can go there from 6 p.m. til daybreak. But as in all touristy area, this place sells things at a high price and it is up to you to slash the price. I won't recommend that place though...

- On the fourth day, which is a Saturday, we went to the Chatuchak Weekend Market. They open from 8am to 6pm only on Saturdays and Sundays (GMT +7). You can spend the whole day and all your money there. Shirts as cheap as RM 5 or 50 baht and shorts of good quality only at 100 baht! CRAZZEEEEEE!!!

- Mom, Aunty and I went to Indra Mall again on Sunday because we didn't want to go too far and because I didn't want to (couldn't) buy anything anymore because our bags were full to the brim and might be overweight! Haha...imagine, I only brought 3 change of shirts and a jeans to Bangkok and my bag was filled with nearly 40 pieces of clothings and 5 pairs of sandals on the trip home!

- On the last day, book an afternoon flight so that you can do some last minute packing and leave for the airport at around the check out time. The airport's name is Suvarnabhumi but pronounced as SuwarnaPUNG.

I took some photos of the stuff that I got but, you know me...I hate to upload photos, so maybe in the distant future, I might post them here. Hehehe...have fun!

1 comment:

crazee said...

wah lots of fun yaa....
next time bring me along la...
of course la u sponsor me...