#1 – MBK (Mah Boon Khrong Center)
MBK is not the biggest or fanciest Bangkok shopping mall, but since its establishment in 1985, it is known to be one of the most popular malls in Thailand. It is one of the busiest and on the weekends is even busier. We recommend you to visit MBK in the morning on weekdays. If you prefer your shopping experience to be a little less chaotic. The first six floors are home to over 2,000 stalls and the two top floors are for entertainment. You can find a cinema complex with 16 screens, bowling alleys, karaoke bars and gaming arcades, to name a few.
MBK is the perfect choice for you budget-conscious travelers. You can find everything from electronics to clothing, all at cheap prices. MBK is also one of the rare malls where you can and definitely should haggle with the prices. One of the reasons the products are so affordable is because most are knock-offs of popular brands. If you don’t mind walking around with fake things, you’ll be happy in MBK.
If you want the real stuff then either you need to look closely at the products sold or take the safer route and visit malls like Siam Paragon or Siam Centre. This is especially the case if you want to make a bigger buy like a laptop or a camera. You don’t want to buy one that won’t function properly. It’s better to spend a few bucks more in a modern mall, instead of your “unbelievable deal” turning into an nightmare.
- 1st – 3rd Floors: Clothing and shoes, leather goods, cosmetics and hairstyling, toys, gold and jewellery
- 4th Floor: Electronics, mobile phones, CD and MP3
- 5th Floor: International food hall, restaurants, furniture, photography, computing
- 6th Floor: Food court, souvenir shops
- 7 th Floor: Bowling, karaoke and all sorts of entertainment
- 8 th Floor: Cinema
Opening hours: 10am – 10pm
How to get there: Take the Skytrain (BTS) to the National Stadium station.
Fun fact: This mall is named after the chief developer’s parents called Mah and Boon Krong. You can find their statues on the ground floor near the centre.
Siam Paragon is almost the complete opposite of MBK. Fancy, structured, high-class and expensive. If you are looking for luxury items from brands like Prada, Luis Vutton or Versace, this is where you’ll find them. The second you step through the big sliding doors, you enter the world of the rich, beautiful and famous. Oh, did we also mention that Siam Paragon has the largest aquarium in South East Asia?
Don’t be too overwhelmed with all the upper class shops. On the first floor you can find an H&M store with more affordable prices. And heading upstairs you’ll leave the world of fashion behind. On the second and third floor there are beauty salons, electronics shops and a Kinokunia bookstore. And not any bookstore, but the biggest in all of Bangkok!
The fourth floor goes by the name “IT World” and oh boy, if you need anything electronic, then this is the place to go. The prices here are higher than in MBK, but with that extra money, you receive first class products and customer service. The fourth floor is also littered with restaurants and cafés, if your legs are growing tired.
The top floor is again reserved for entertainment with a large cinema. Siam Paragon is the best place to watch the latest releases with the addition of a Nokia VIP Ultrascreen. For 700 Baht you not only get to watch a big movie on a big screen, oh no. How does leather sofa booths with reclining footrests, free food drink, and a blanket sound? If you are a cinephile, this is THE place to watch a movie.
- Basement Floor: Oceanarium
- Ground Floor: Gourmet Paradise
- Main Floor: The Luxury
- 1st Floor: Fashion Venue
- 2nd Floor: Lifestyle & Leisure
- 3rd Floor: Living & Technology
- 4th Floor: Paragon Passage & IT World
- 5th Floor: Main Floor (yes, that’s what it’s called. Don’t get confused.)
Opening hours: 10am – 10pm
How to get there: Take the Skytrain to Siam and it’s right in front of you.
Money Saving Tip: Apply for a Tourist Discount Card at the Information Desk on the Ground Level. You can get a 5% discount on a lot of your purchases with it!
Of all the Bangkok shopping malls, Terminal 21 is by far the most unusual. Instead of having similar stores on the same floor, Terminal 21 made each floor a theme, based on a famous city. On the ground floor you can “visit” Rome, where you will find all the luxury brands for fashion. Or how about the beauty of Paris? You may not find the Louvre here, but you will find some of the best spa-inspired stores. The other cities in the mall are Tokyo, London, San Francisco and Hollywood.
As the name already suggests, Terminal 21 is structured as an airport terminal. Instead of flight details you will see information about all the stores on the display boards and floor signs. Even the receptionists wear outfits of flight attendants to keep up the façade.
This unique style is reason enough to stop by for a visit. But, as a backpacker you might be happy to hear that the price tags are not as hefty as in Siam Paragon. Not only will you have a great shopping experience, but also enough money left for a some toasties. We have to mention the fantastic dining scene of San Francisco, which you can find on the 4th and 5th floor. The amount of international restaurants you can find here is crazy and it will be painful to pick one. You want to try something from every single one of them!
- LG Floor (Lower Ground): Caribbean – Gourmet market supermarket, restaurants, banks and book stores, convenience shops
- Ground Floor: Rome – High-End clothing stores, money exchange places, information desks
- Main Floor: Paris – Boutiques and beauty shops
- 1st Floor: Tokyo – Women’s clothing
- 2nd Floor: London – Men’s clothing
- 3rd Floor: Istanbul – Everything! Jewellery, shoes, bags, souvenirs, decoration products, etc…
- 4th Floor: San Francisco (City) – Thai restaurants
- 5th Floor: San Francisco (Pier) – International restaurants
- 6th Floor: Hollywood – Cinema (8 Screens)
Opening times: 10am – 10pm
How to get there: Take the Skytrain to Asok Station
Today’s list finishes with the most (in)famous Bangkok shopping mall, Pantip Plaza. The heaven for everything IT. If you are looking for a new laptop, camera, tablet or any weird trinkets, Pantip Plaza is your destination. Besides the many stores that offer these products, there are also repair shops. In case one of your electronics is in dire need of some fixing.
The good thing about Pantip Plaza is that, once again, it is quite affordable for people on a budget. The flip side to that coin is that, once again, a lot of the products can be counterfeits. You want to have some prior knowledge of the items and prices, so you can spot the fakes when you see them. As the old adage goes: “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” This also goes for a lot of the software, movies and video games they are selling. It can be cheap quality and on the surface look completely fine. Do your research and don’t get scammed!
- Ground Floor: Banks, restaurants (McDonalds, KFC, etc.), stores for backpacks, suit cases and backpacks
- 1st Floor: The Random Floor (you can find the most random electronic devices and accessories imaginable)
- 2nd Floor: Camera heaven (Canon, Sony, Nikon – you name it, they got it) and restaurants
- 3rd Floor: Hardware section and repair shops
- 4th Floor: Food court (only Thai food is available. For international “cuisine” head to the Ground Floor) and a great café with a co-working space owned by Syn Hub by Synergy Technology.
- 5th Floor: IT City
Opening times: 10am – 9pm
How to get there: Take the Skytrain to Ratchathewi Station. From there you need to walk for a few minutes along Phetchaburi Road. Pantip Plaza will be on your right hand side.
Important tip: There can be pickpockets around, especially near the escalators. Make sure to keep your belongings close to you.