Siam Paragon - World Class Shopping in Bangkok
Video of Siam Paragon at bottom of this page.
Siam Paragon operates since December 2005. It is a quite large shopping complex conveniently located at the Siam Square main skytrain (BTS) station. We go there about once a week, so the review of Siam Paragon featured below, is based on our day-to-day experience of visiting and shopping there.
Siam Paragon (at Siam main BTS station)
Getting a full overview of Siam Paragon is rather difficult, since any view is obstructed by the awful skytrain pillars in front of the building. The entrance at street level brings you into the food court and within easy access to the Gourmet Supermarket. More convenient is the wide connection (really spacious) with the skytrain station. To move about the large shopping complex, you will find escalators in front of you. Walking about 100 meters in a rightward direction (follow the arrows) brings you to the elevators.
Siam Paragon has a basement (with food court, as mentioned) and as far as we could figure out 5 open floors. Each floor has retail shops (we do not quite know whether 'retail' is a proper word for some of the huge shops we saw) running parallel to the street, and access to a department store, called Siam Paragon Department Store, that is located towards the center and the back of the building.
The Gourmet Market at Ground Level is huge. Probably only the 'supermarket' at CentralWorld can compete in size.
Different levels at Siam Paragon
Ground Floor : Gourmet Market. Actually the Gourmet Market at Siam Paragon is about the size of a standard soccer field. It indeed has a lot of gourmet foods for sale, besides regular supermarket goods. Initially we were much impressed by the things on offer, and we considered the prices appropriate. A second visit a few weeks later made us realize that actually quite a lot of the gourmet stuff is rather pricey and more expensive than say at Emporium.
The bakery at Gourmet Market (operating under the name Le Boulanger) unexplicably is way below par (unless you like orange or pink colored sandwich bread). So if you buy an expensive salad (see below), you are advised to buy your rolls somewhere else.
A useful comparison is the salad bar which most supermarkets in Bangkok feature. Foodland sells at 10 baht/100 grams of salad, Tops Supermarket sells at 15 baht/100 grams and the Gourmet Market at Siam Paragon charges a whopping 25 baht (discounted to 20 baht)/100 grams. Of course, with higher prices come somewhat more exotic fruits and vegetables to choose from.
MF (Mezzanine Floor?) : Beauty Hall (the largest collection of perfumes and make-up stuff we ever encountered) - The Luxury
First Floor : Fashion Venue - The Lingerie Salon
Second Floor : Paragon Men - Sports Mall Global
Third Floor : Read & Write - Paragon Kids
Fourth Floor : Power Mall Ultra - Paragon Living
Lighting and interior design inside Siam Paragon Shopping Complex are really well done.
Hopefully just the names of the sections on the different floors, will indicate what and where to find the goods you are looking for.
Walking through the retail outlets at Siam Paragon we noticed the following : Lots of food outlets at basement level : Subway, Auntie Anne's, McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, Au Bon Pain. On the second floor we actually saw open showrooms for both Maserati, Lamborghini and Ferrari cars. Asia Books is also on the second floor.
Furniture outlets (among them a large S.B. Furniture shop) on the 3rd floor. There is a Starbucks, much smaller than we would have anticipated, on the 3rd floor. There are 2 more Starbucks outlets in the complex, one located at Siam Paragon Cineplex.
IT City, our favored outlet for computers and computer accessories, has a large store on the 4th floor.
On the 4th floor there is also what is called 'A passage to Asian Arts and Crafts' with about 20 shops showing arts and crafts of Thailand and Asia.
The Kinokuniya bookstore at Siam Paragon is huge, and offers books in Thai, English, Japanese, Chinese, French and German languages.
The store that impressed us most (we are not at all impressed actually by luxury goods in general) was the huge Kinokuniya bookstore on the 3rd floor. Easily this store has more titles and more books in one place, than the combined total available at Asia Books stores in Bangkok. Kinokuniya store at Siam Paragon has different language sections. There is a large section for Thai, Japanese and English-language books. There are further smaller (but substantial section) for books in Chinese, French and German language. The bookstore also has a coffeeshop on the premises.
Sudoku lovers will find a large collection of Sudoku books.
Asia Books also has what must be its largest store in Bangkok (and Thailand) at Siam Paragon, but it can not really be compete with what Kinokuniya has to offer.
Siam Paragon has a few more interesting venues :
Siam Opera is located on the 6th floor.
Paragon CinePlex, KrungSri IMAX (movie theatres) are located on the 5th and 6th floors. There are 5 IMAX theatres and some 9 regular movie theatres. As most movie theatres in Bangkok, the seating is comfortable, the quality of the sound and pictures are excellent, and you get good value for money. Regular price tickets for movies are 140 baht. Do not go too lightly dressed, since the airconditioning at movie theatres creates a 'freezer' environment.
[We suggest you go to the movies in Thailand during the weekdays, and preferably during the day time, you will have ample seating available]
Siam Paragon Cineplex offers excellent value for money movie viewing.
There is an exhibition and convention center, as well as an Edutainment Center on the 5th and 6th floor.
The basement of Siam Paragon houses the Siam Ocean World, containing some small and large aquariums.
Benefits of Siam Paragon :
The area between MBK Center and Central Chitlom was already the major shopping area in Bangkok. Siam Paragon has certainly reinforced that. Probably few people were actually waiting for yet another megastore, but now it is there and attracts a substantial number of visitors each day. The store is spacious, and it is rather comfortable walking around.
The competition may not like it. Siam Paragon is well located and widely connected to the skytrain station.
In the area, CentralWorld with Zen and Isetan, is the main competitor (for luxury shopping, much more people actually go the MBK Center, which offers more economically priced goods). Access from the skytrain is available to reach CentralWorld, but you will need to walk a bit. We do not know a lot about parking facilities at the different stores. But for walkers, and those of us who use public transport, Siam Paragon is easier to reach.
We doubt that yet another store like this is beneficial to the Thai growing middle class, who have yet another venue where to spend their hard earned cash (and/or get deeper in depth).
Foreign tourists can be divided in two groups. Westerners can probably not really be impressed by it all, and most of them do not really come and travel to Thailand, in order to buy luxury goods. It is another matter when considering Asian visitors. A lot of Japanese, Chinese (including Hong Kong and Singapore residents) are prone to consuming luxury goods. So if they are even modestly priced lower than in their country of residence, Thailand as a whole (and Siam Paragon) may benefit from their purchases. The European companies who produce a lot of the so called luxury brands, will also be very pleased with yet another outlet for their goods.
Ticket boot for KrungSri IMAX theatres. There is a regularly changing programme for IMAX-movies.
Historical Context, Social Responsibilities?
It should be remembered that the present Siam Paragon is located on the premises of the old Intercontinental Hotel, which for many years was a landmark in Bangkok. The hotel was located in a small corner surrounded by a spacious green garden. This has now disappeared. We did not see any greenery at the present Siam Paragon (except of some palm trees in front), and it begs the question as to whether major developers should be forced to think also about the common good. As an example, we could say that all major construction works have to provide for enough available parking space. Likewise it would be a good idea if major developments would be expected to provide the presence of parks, greenery, children's corners etc. at their premises.
The closest we get to nature at Siam Paragon is at Siam Ocean World.
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Siam Paragon is a joint venture between The Mall Group and BHIC (Bangkok Intercontinental Hotels Co.). Besides The Mall Department Stores, The Mall Group also operates Emporium Shopping Complex, Siam Discovery Center.