For budget-friendly fashion
Where: Union Mall, Lad Prao Rd intersection; +66 2 512 5000
Why: While Platinum Fashion Mall is a great place for trendy apparel, it’s usually packed to the rafters with tourists, making it a chore to navigate. Union Mall is more popular with locals, and the lower human traffic here also means that shopkeepers are more willing to bargain. Browse and buy tops, dresses, denim and even gowns on the lower levels; shoes, bags and male fashion can be found on the higher floors.
When to visit: Daily, 11am–10pm
How to get there: Take the BTS to Phahon Yothin, then follow the signs leading to Exit 5.
Tip! Learn how to ask for prices in Thai. This will endear you to the local shopkeepers, increasing your chances of a good bargain. Pick up some phrases here at the Thai Smile portal.
Also read: 7 things to remember when shopping overseas
For designer labels
Where: Siam Paragon, Rama I Rd; +66 2 690 1000; siamparagon.co.th
Why: Siam Paragon is home to a wide variety of luxe brands like Chanel, Hermès, Louis Vuitton and a whole slew of other brands we can barely pronounce (a true test of luxury!). Besides international names, you’ll also find local designer labels like Disaya and Flynow, which have won global acclaim. New collections often debut here too, making the mall a true epicenter of fashion.
When to visit: Daily, 10am–10pm
How to get there: Take the BTS to Siam station and leave via Exit 3.
Tip! Certain shops offer value-added tax (VAT) refunds on goods. If you intend to spend THB2,000 or more at the same store and a minimum total of THB5,000 during your trip, you can get a tax refund! Go to download.rd.go.th/vrt/uploads/files/handbill_e.pdf for details.
For vintage or upcycled items
Where: JJ Green Vintage Night Market, Kamphaeng Phet 3 Rd; +66 86 567 9959
Why: Just round the corner from the famous Chatuchak Market, JJ Green (or Jatujak Green) is a treasure trove of antiques, vinyls, pre-loved clothes, upcycled household items, cameras and more. While it’s not quite as large as Talat Rot Fai, it’s charmingly laid-back, with band performances and cheap drinks at its many bars. Basically, it’s as hip as it gets!
When to visit: Thursdays to Sundays, 6pm–1am. Try to avoid the weekend crowd.
How to get there: Take the BTS to Mo Chit station, or the MRT to Chatuchak Park station. Walk to Kamphaeng Phet Road and look out for a park with a large “Jatujak Green” signage.
Tip! Only bargain when necessary, as prices here are already relatively low.
For household items
Where: Chatuchak Weekend Market, Kamphaeng Phet 3 Rd; chatuchak.org
Why: Most people head to this celebrated market for fashion bargains, but few realize that it’s also a great place to score affordable household items. You’ll find entire sections of the market dedicated to these; visit sections 2 and 4 for vintage goods, sections 7, 21 and 27 for home décor, and sections 17 and 19 for ceramics.
When to visit: Saturdays & Sundays 9am–6pm; Wednesdays & Thursdays 7am–6pm (plant sections); Fridays 6pm–midnight
How to get there: Take the BTS to Mo Chit station, or the MRT to Chatuchak Park station. Then take Exit 1 and follow the crowd.
Tip! If you’re looking to buy goods in large quantities, visit the wholesale market, which opens on Fridays.
For fabric and sewing items
Where: Pahurat Textile Market, Chakraphek Rd/Sampleng Ln.
Why: If you’re looking for new curtains or bedding, or want to tailor your own Thai silk dress, then Pahurat is the place to be. Here you’ll find silk, cotton, cashmere, buttons, zippers, appliqué, dressmaking patterns and more. The best part? Prices are affordable, starting as low as THB35 per meter of cotton.
When to visit: Daily, 9am–6pm
How to get there: Take the BTS to Saphan Taksin station and leave via Exit 2. Then, hop on the Chao Phraya Express Boat to Rajawongse Pier.
Tip! If you’re not one for sweating it out at markets, look for China World Mall — an air-conditioned fabrics mall — at the end of Sampleng Lane instead.
Where: Pantip Plaza, 604/3 Ratchathewi; +66 60 003 1950; pantipplaza.com
Why: Pantip Plaza is the mothership for affordable IT gadgets, from laptops to music players. In fact, it’s the wholesale destination of retailers around Asia (ie, where your “computer guy” gets his stuff from!). Besides the sea of small stores, there are two anchor tenants selling gadgets (at a slight premium) with manufacturer warranties — always a safe bet.
When to visit: Daily, 10am–9pm
How to get there: Take the BTS to Phaya Thai station and leave via Exit 2. Then hail a tuk-tuk or a cab for a short ride along New Phetchaburi Road to Pantip Plaza.
Tip! To ensure that you’re getting the best bargain, compare prices at different stores. Also, be wary of counterfeits.