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Shop Till You Drop

Other Asian destinations may quibble, but for variety Bangkok offers arguably the best retail experience in the region.

Muay Thai (Thai boxing) is Thailand’s national sport. But shopping is the most favored pastime in Bangkok. What makes it so appealing is the scope of options. Sleek mega-malls such as Siam Paragon, Central Embassy, and EmQuartier sport high-end designers, international brands, and breakthrough Thai labels. But those seeking a more characterful experience will find much to love about the city’s array of independent retailers. Or at fixtures such as Chatuchak Weekend Market where thousands of stalls supply plentiful opportunities to loosen the purse strings.

Chatuchak Weekend Market

The motherlode of unique Bangkok retail experiences is undoubtedly the Chatuchak weekend market. Thailand’s largest outdoor bazaar, known as “Jatujak” or simply “JJ” to Thais sells almost everything under the sun. Navigating the 35-acre site and its 15,000-plus stalls can be a time-consuming process. But perseverance can uncover a veritable treasure trove of gems and collectables ranging from beautiful ceramics and handicrafts to exquisite jewelry. Allow plenty of time to explore as the market is sprawling. There are shipping companies on site to help you get your goodies home, and plenty of food and coffee options. There are even indoor massage parlours with aircon and free Wifi, so set aside the day.

Siam Discovery Centre

Like the neighbouring Siam Centre, this mall puts an accent on youthfulness. The two, however, offer completely contrasting retail experiences. At Siam Discovery, the vibe is more sophisticated with a pronounced influence from Japan and Korea. Indeed, the mall was revamped by acclaimed Japanese studio Nendo, which implemented both its striking exterior and the largely open-plan concept indoors where products are displayed as you might see in someone’s home. Japanese aesthetics are also to the fore among the retail offerings with brands and designers such as Beautiful People, Tsumori Chisato, and Miharayasuhiro all represented. Thai brands are well-represented too. The Exploratorium is the largest lifestyle specialty shop in Thailand. Cazh, meanwhile, offers more than 27 local and international streetwear brands.

Everyday I Love My Life

Image by Everyday Kmkm

Karmakamet has come a long way since the turn of the millennium. Since opening its first physical outlet at Chatuchak Weekend Market in 2001, the brand has expanded to become one of Thailand’s most successful homegrown labels. Originally known for its aromatherapy products, Karmakamet has branched out over the years to encompass everything from fine dining to fashion. And its magpie approach to retail is showcased at Everyday I Love My Love, its flagship store in Siam Square. The first floor is devoted to signature aromatic and beauty products such as scented candles, soaps, and shampoos. Further up the converted four-story shophouse, attention turns to hip stationery and lifestyle products, menswear, and womenswear and — the capper on the top floor — one of Bangkok’s most IG-friendly cafes.

Jim Thompson (Surawong)

Going strong since 1951, the Jim Thompson silk brand is a tribute to longevity forged through quality. Yet its continued relevance is also a testament to the brand’s evolution through the decades. And all these selling points — from the unimpeachable quality of the fabrics to designs that are often cutting edge— can be witnessed at this, the brand’s flagship store. Opened by Thompson himself in 1967, the outlet has moved with the times and offers an immersive introduction to the brand. On the first two floors, you’ll discover clothes and accessories encompassing pillowcases, scarves, and neckties. On higher floors, beautiful fabrics are sold by square metres, while the potential of Thai silk for home furnishings is showcased via a series of mock-up rooms in different styles.

P Tendercool

Reclaimed colonial-era hardwood, Burmese teak, and gleaming brass add a distinctive flair to the bespoke furnishings at this boutique near the Chao Phraya River. While minimalist pieces owe a debt to Scandinavian design, local materials, and techniques keep them rooted in Thailand. The sand-cast bronze pieces, amade under the supervision of an Italian maestro who counts the Vatican City among his clients, draw on the country’s history of metal craftsmanship. P.Tendercool is one of the rare spots where staff seem to relish the challenge presented by a demanding client or an unusual request.


Thailand’s proud tradition of craftsmanship is thriving in Bangkok due to the efforts of talented young artisans like Karin Phisolyabut, the founder of Yarnnakarn. The phrase “yarnnakarn” itself describes the correlation between nostalgia and the passage of time. But despite its respect for the past, this studio brims with contemporary vigour in its ceramic, wood crafts, and glassware collections. Classic designs are spruced up with bold finishes to create pieces distinguished by interesting textures and smooth, feminine curves.