Bangkok Shopping : From MBK-Center to Central Chitlom
The area around Siam Square has become the undisputed center for shopping in Bangkok. It stretches for a km or two from MBK-Center in the West to Central Chidlom in the East. Most, but not all, shopping malls and department stores are close the the skytrain stations of Siam Square and Chitlom.
While having the largest number of big shopping malls in Thailand, the area is not overly appealing.
It would be, for example, not quite suitable to compare it with Orchard Road in Singapore. While you can pleasantly stroll along Orchard Road, the same can not be said for Rama I Road and Phloenchit Road in Bangkok. The reason, it looks so awful and depressing to be under the platforms and tracks of the skytrain system. While having obviously benefited Bangkok commuters, the design and aesthetic appeal of the skytrain pillars and tracks leave much to be desired. Maybe just in the area between Siam Square and Chitlom stations, the whole structure could be painted (at a price, we know) with some graffiti artwork thrown in.
MBK-Center is located on the very busy intersection of Rama I road and Phaya Thai Road. It is however easily reached from the National Stadium skytrain station.
We will start from MBK-Center and take you along Rama I Road and Ratchaprasong Intersection towards Central Chitlom.
MBK-Center is a multistoried building housing hundreds of small shops and eateries. The upper floor is dedicated to big furniture outlets. It is located in the Southwestern corner of the Rama I-Phayathai Road Intersection. Since quite a few years now, MBK (still best known under its original name of MahBoonKhrong) must be the most visited shopping center in Bangkok. It is very popular with Thai people and caters definitively to the 'common man and woman'.
Products for sale include : clothes and fashion items, leather, jewelry, electronics, mobile phones, furniture etc. It also houses a 4-storey department store (Tokyu). You can easily reach MBK-Center by the skytrain : get off at National Stadium station, or stroll on the walkway from Siam Square.
[There is one big walkway up in the sky from Chitlom skytrain station up to National Stadium station, no need to walk at street level]
Coming from MBK-Center and crossing Phaya Thai road, you can enter Siam Square proper. Siam Square, located south of Siam Square skytrain station, features a few hundred mostly small shops. A few small streets intersect the various shopping areas, some of which are actually covered.
Typical 'trinkets' shop at Siam Square. There are a lot of little shops solely dedicated to things like earrings or hearpins etc.
There are small restaurants, fruit drink bars, coffee shops. But Siam Square is best known for its apparel and fashion (mostly local Thai produce) outlets, that are very popular with Thai youngsters. As a matter of fact, you will hardly notice any 'adults' in this shopping area, but a lot of Thai teenagers and university students. Siam Square shopping area is actually located on land belonging to Chulalongkorn University.
Hard Rock Cafe is located on Siam Square Soi 11.
In the Siam Square area, you will also find the Chulalongkorn University Book Center. It is located in an office building, called WithayaKit, that is the single largest building on that side of Rama I Road, and located somewhat away from the main street. If you are looking for scientific books or computer related books, it is a good place to visit. Of course, most books are in Thai language.
Between the many shops at Siam Square there are also a few with a well known brand name, such as this shop by Giordano.
Crossing Rama I road, opposite Siam Square, you find Siam Center and Siam Discovery Center. Besides regular shops, you can find Mc Donald's, Starbucks, Au Bon Pain, Asia Books etc. in these low-rise shopping buildings. It is also the place where Thai teenagers come to see and be seen.
Chedi at Wat Pathum Wanaram with a tower at Central World Plaza in the background.
Next to Siam Center is the Siam Paragon, a giant new shopping complex. Walking further eastwards from Siam Paragon, you will pass an old but still active temple, located in the midst of all this urban development and shopping activity : Wat Pathum Wanaram. We recommend that you have a short walk inside the temple complex. There is not a lot to see, although the Ubosoth of Wat Pathum Wanaram is quite attractive. It is relatively quiet though inside the compound, and it is interesting to see all the structures surrounding the temple. Maybe a good place to sit for 15 minutes and have a bottle of water.
Wat Pathum Wanaram is located in between Siam Paragon (in the background) and Central World Plaza.
Leaving Wat Pathum Wanaram we have another giant shopping complex, Central World Plaza. The actual Central World Plaza is located on Rajadamri Road, and located a bit away from Rama I. It was originally named World Trade Center. Now with Siam Paragon almost next door, and the location of Central World Plaza somewhat away from the skytrain line (that is the location became less optimal), there is a lot of reconstruction going on at this moment and a whole new building is being constructed at the side of Rama I Road, and connected to the skytrain walkway. Central World Plaza is a multistoried very large complex and contains no less than two department stores : Zen (a Central Department store) and Isetan. Furthermore, there are lots of mostly large shops. The place is very spacious, but you will need to walk a lot if you do your shopping in there. During the colder months of the year (mostly november till february) the various breweries of Thailand, have large beer gardens in front of Central World Plaza, that are very popular. It is also a favored place to see in the new year at New Year' Eve.
Check out our recent review of Central World.
If you reach Central World Plaza, you actually reached what is called the Ratchaprasong Intersection. On the other side of Rajadamri Road, opposite Central World Plaza, there is a Big C to the left, and Naraphand, a shopping complex solely dedicated to Thai arts and crafts.
The Erawan Shrine is located in front of the Grand Hyatt Erawan, at the intersection of Rajadamri Road and Phloenchit Road. There are worshippers at all times during the day.
At the corner of Phloenchit Road and Rajadamri Road, you will find the very upmarket Gaysorn. Compared to Siam Paragon and Central World Plaza, it is small in size, but just to give you an idea of what is on offer, the following world known companies have outlets there : Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Gucci, Christian Lacroix, Dior, Salvatore Ferragamo, Prada, Celine, Emporio Armani, Burberry, Loewe, Mont Blanc, Ermanogildo Zegna, Moschino, Bulgari, Davidoff, Swarovski etc. When we visited the place one early evening, Gaysorn was mostly deserted, and there were possibly more security personnel than customers. But our guess is that it is a good place for celebrities and politicians to do their shopping, since the place is small, and can be much better secured than huge places like Siam Paragon and Central World Plaza.
Gaysorn is a very upmarket shopping center located at the intersection of Rajadamri Road and Phloenchit Road.
Crossing Phloenchit Road from Gaysorn, there is the Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel, and two smaller long-established department stores, the Bangkok Erawan, and the Amarin. Walking on the same side of Phloenchit road as Gaysorn and going eastwards, we will come to Central Chitlom. Central Chitlom is very conveniently connected now to the Chitlom skytrain station, and is indeed very easy to reach nowadays. It can be called the flagship department store of the Central Group. Central Chitlom is another classy shopping center in the area, somewhat away from Siam Square. There are no less than 7 floors to wander through, and the complex also contains a large supermarket.