Bangkok isn’t called a shopping haven for nothing. Here, you can buy all kinds of stuff from fashion, accessories to electronic gadgets and of course, souvenirs. From its classy and opulent malls to its teeming street markets, Bangkok as a travel destination has so much to offer.
Get ready to speak ‘calculator,’ as most vendors may not be as fluent in English. And be ready to spend some major baht! We’ve put together an essential Bangkok shopping list so you can get the best souvenirs and bargains in the Thai capital.
1. Thai Silk
Thailand is well-known for making one of the finest silks in the world. So it’s no surprise to find that Thai silk is on top of our shopping list. You can purchase Thai silk cloth that you can make into dresses, Thai silk scarves, or ready-made dresses, shirts, blouses, and skirts. Even silk shirts for men are available, making these items a perfect take home gift for anyone.
Silk is available in the big shopping malls such as MBK, as well as the famous markets like Chatuchak and Pratunam. If you prefer to get tailored shirts, Bangkok’s tailors are renowned for their craft.
2. Thai vintage costume jewelry
If you are looking to vamp up your wardrobe with some ethnic accessories, you will find a lot of costume jewelry in Bangkok. Weekend markets such as Chatuchak or even night markets are a treasure trove for vintage rings, bracelets and necklaces. If you want to go for a unique look, find any of the small stalls that offer unique designs of watches and beaded bracelets.
3. NaRaYa bags
NaRaYa is a Thai company that is known for its handsewn cloth bags. Throughout the years, their product line has expanded to include home decorations, kitchenware, kid’s accessories and many more. Their bags and accessories are marked with the iconic bow and come in many colors and styles. With more than 10 fashion shops in Bangkok, it is easy to shop for yourself or for your best friends. They also hold a factory sale usually in December, where their products are on discount.
4. Thai coconut oil
Coconut oil is abundantly produced in Thailand, thanks to the tropical coconut trees that grow in most parts of the country. Over the years, coconut oil production has improved making a variety of oils widely available and relatively cheap. Its uses range from skin cleansing and moisturizing and hair moisturizing, to being an energy booster when drank. Extra virgin coconut oil is what you should get. Favored brands are Agrilife and Thaipure, which can be found in most supermarkets and health and beauty shops.
5. Spa and aromatherapy products
Because of the abundance of coconut oil which is the base of most spa and beauty products, Thailand has locally made spa products. Some local brands are even exporting to other countries. Bath & Bloom is a well-known brand both locally and abroad. It offers oils, bath creams, soaps and moisturizers made of natural ingredients, with distinctly Thai scents. Their Thai jasmine line is one of its best-selling lines.
6. Carved soap
Another offshoot of the abundance of coconut oil is the abundance of soap. And in Thailand, soap carving has become an art form. From a bar of delicately scented soap, carvers would hand carve it into a flower and then hand paint it. This results in a decorative hand carved soap flower placed in a lovely container. It is definitely pretty enough to put on one’s office table or at home. Look for these at any Thai souvenir shop in any of the shopping centers.
7. Fruit soap
You will be amazed by how much of this product is available in Bangkok. And because there are so many stores who carry it, it is probably one of the cheapest yet unique things you can buy in Bangkok. These soaps not only have the sweet smell of fruit, they also look like a piece of fruit. Most of these soaps are made with natural ingredients and can be used daily. Or you can just keep them around for some in-room fragrance.
8. Fairy lights
Looking to add a little whimsy to your home? Get a bunch of these fairy lights, or cotton ball string lights. They can bring lots of color as well as enhance the lighting here and there. Using LED lights, they do not consume too much energy. It is available in different color combinations, even non-pastel ones if you want go for that minimalist look. You can buy these lights at any night market or vintage market, even at MBK.
9. Koh Kae snacks
Koh Kae is a very popular peanut snack in Thailand, with a silly looking but popular mascot. Peanuts are coated with a crunchy and flavorful shell, which comes in many flavors. They started out with coconut cream, but later on ventured into more exotic ones, like coffee, wasabi nori, and tom yum. Whether you want it savory or sweet, you will have a lot of choices. Koh Kae is available in most supermarkets and shopping malls.
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10. Dried fruits
Thailand is also blessed with exotic tropical fruits, like mangoes, durian, pineapple and the best way to enjoy these fruits all year long is to dehydrate them. Dried fruits make the best snacks, especially if they are done right. Most companies do not use sugar because the fruits have their own natural sugars. If you don’t like it sweet, they also have variations on the spicy. Sampaeng Market in Chinatown is the best place to buy dried fruit, but it also available in most supermarkets and shopping centers.
11. Crispy Seaweed
The Japanese would be happy to know that their beloved dried seaweed is a favorite in Thailand too. They have given it a Thai twist in terms of flavor and texture. So, get a pack or more of crispy seaweed, Tao Kae Noi. You can enjoy it in many flavors like wasabi, tom yum, chicken larb and many more.
12. Peppermint inhaler
Yes, you read it right – peppermint inhaler. Locals love to use this and it’s very useful for nasal allergies, rhinitis or sinusitis. There are several popular brands, like Peppermint Field and Poy Sian. You can buy these at any supermarket or drug store. Horde them for yourself or for your friends and family who might find it in handy.
13. Mookata grill
Also known as mu-kratha, this unique cooking tool is a combination of a Korean stove top grill and a Chinese hotpot. The center portion is where you place the meat for grilling and the outer portion is filled with soup for cooking the vegetables and fish balls, among other yummy things. If you bring home a mookata, imagine doing this every night for dinner.
14. Thai spice packs
Bangkok is best place to stock up on essential Thai spices for your favorite Thai dishes. Whether it’s Tom Yum, or Tom Kha Gai, or Thai barbecue, you will have all you need neatly packed and ready to use. Thai spice kits are very useful if you suddenly crave for Thai food.
15. Thai Tea mix
Thai milk tea, also called cha yen, is a creamy iced tea drink that is famous in Thailand. Nothing beats the summer heat with a tall glass of milky goodness. Thai milk tea is mixture of Thai tea with its signature orangey color and vanilla-like taste, condensed milk, evaporated milk and ice. Making it from scratch won’t be difficult if you have the original Thai tea on stock. It comes in this traditional red and white tin container, labeled Number One Brand. It is readily available in most shopping centers and supermarkets.
Shop ‘Til You Drop: Best locations
Bangkok is definitely a place where you can shop ’till you drop, with its various shopping options and things to buy. Here are some of the popular places where you can do this for that real Bangkok shopping experience.
- MBK – Phayathai Rd, Pathum Wan, Khet Pathum Wan, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon; Opening Hours: Daily, 10am – 10pm
- Chatuchak Weekend Market – 587/10 Kamphaeng Phet 2 Rd, Khwaeng Chatuchak, Khet Chatuchak, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon; Opening Hours: Sat-Sun, 9am – 6pm
- Pratunam Market – 869/15 Ratchaprarop Rd, Khwaeng Thanon Phaya Thai, Khet Ratchathewi, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon; Opening Hours: Daily, 9am – 8pm
- Asiatique The Riverfront – 2194 Charoen Krung Rd, Khwaeng Wat Phraya Krai, Khet Bang Kho Laem, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon; Opening Hours: Daily, 5pm – 12am
- Sampaeng Market – Yaowarat (Chinatown); Opening Hours: Daily, 9am – 6pm
- Shopping malls such as Siam Paragon, CentralWorld, Terminal 21, Platinum Fashion Mall, Siam Center, Pantip Plaza, Siam Discovery, Central Embassy Shopping Mall, EmQuartier. Take note that these malls also have designer brands on hand, if you are looking for some luxury shopping.
So what are you waiting for? Book that trip to Bangkok now and go on the ultimate shopping adventure. Bangkok – shopping haven, where you can literally shop for days.
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