Shopping is one of the great pleasures and pastimes of Bangkok's residents and tourists. From the mega-malls, pulsing with a million volts of neon energy, to the hawker street stalls and cool boutiques, the Land of Smiles is also the Land of Sales. Pack light. Wear comfortable shoes.
1. Shopping areas
Bangkok's busiest shopping districts tend to cluster around the mega-malls. Ask any taxi driver to drop you off at the shops in Silom, Siam or Sukhumvit and you'll be in retail heaven. Avoid the intense heat of the day and instead venture out at night when street stalls open up and provide an interesting contrast to the international brand-name stores.
"Malling", as in spending hours at an air-conditioned mall, is practically a national sport in Thailand. At malls such as Siam Paragon, MBK and Terminal 21, hundreds of brand-name stores sit side by side unique boutiques and shops selling local wares. Expect to find great food, hair salons, cinemas – and even an ice-skating rink – in the city's malls.
3. Health & beauty
Thailand's spa culture has encouraged the launch of companies making gorgeous bath and body products, many made from organic, locally sourced products. Seek out a HARNN store (there's one at Central World) for some of the best natural skincare products in the world.
4. Chatuchak Weekend Market
Open on Friday nights and all day Saturday and Sunday, this mega-market has more than 8000 stalls and a dizzying area of goods for sale. Pace yourself and take plenty of rest stops as you browse the antiques, furniture, homewares, clothes, souvenirs and collectibles on offer. One visit is never enough.
5. Night markets
When the sun goes down, Bangkok's night markets open up. Join the hustle – and meet the locals – as you shop for souvenirs, clothes, toys, homewares and more at Patpong Night Market, Asiatique and Chinatown. Some of the best street food can be enjoyed here for less than a hundred baht.
6. Retro & vintage
Ever since retro memorabilia and vintage fashion became popular with Bangkok's cool kids, the Rot Fai Market in Srinakarin has grown at a rapid pace. Fossick for rare collectibles, including vintage photographs and Vespa merchandise, as well as hard-to-find fashion and accessories.
There's a rich tradition of art-making in Thailand, from hand-crafted pottery to finely detailed paintings and woodwork. For contemporary artworks, browse the exhibitions at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, opposite MBK shopping centre. Also worth a look: Number 1 Gallery, Tang Contemporary Art and H Gallery.
8. Books & magazines
Thanks to the large ex-pat community in Bangkok, you'll have no trouble finding English-language guidebooks, novels and magazines. Dasa Book Cafe on Sukhumvit Road is a quality secondhand book shop, while Kinokuniya (multiple locations) offers thousands of new titles and international magazines.
9. Tech time
Mobile phones, laptops, tablets, camera gear and other tech gadgets are widely available in Bangkok at competitive prices. First stop should be Pantip Plaza, a mall specialising in all things electronic. Centrally located on Petchaburi Road, the Plaza is home to dozens of IT stores and repair shops.
Paul's Antiques on Sukhumvit Soi 13 should be on the radar of all lovers of period furniture pieces. Specialising in authentic antique furniture from Myanmar – with most pieces dating back to the British colonial period -, Paul's team lovingly restore them back to their original beauty. Shipping can be arranged.