Thailand — Shopping and Leisure
Thailand is a shopaholic’s delight and you can easily spend hours or even days scouring the malls and markets. From cheap street stalls selling knockoff designer clothes to the five-star mega malls boasting retail goods; Thailand is a shopping oasis that has something for everyone. Even though the country is renowned for its cheap prices, malls regularly match prices found in Western countries…sometimes even higher.
Outside of Hong Kong and maybe Tokyo, Bangkok is the best Asian shopping Mecca. For a Westernized experience, the malls in Ratchaprasong are the best, which include Central World, Siam Paragon and Central Chitlom. Alternatively, head south along Sukhumvit Road and Terminal 21 and Emporium await shoppers in Thailand.
However, the markets are the real gem. Along Sukhumvit Road, there street stalls on every corner open after dark. Chatujak Market (affectionately known as JJ Market) is a massive weekend marketplace selling hundreds of different items. Rare animals, domestic pets, furniture, art, crafts, clothing, accessories and more are available. It is found about 20 minutes from downtown Bangkok, along the Bang Sue underground railway. Other markets include Damnoen Floating Market, Pratunam Market and Minburi Market, but the night bazaar in Bangkok’s Lumpini district is no longer operating.
Central Plaza Chiang Mai Airport is worth checking out, and Kad Suan Kaew is another shopping center with plenty of fashion and great restaurants. However, Chiang Mai is most famous for its large night bazaar, which straddles several downtown streets every evening along Thipanet Road and Mahidon Road. Be sure to barter though, or you will end up paying much more than you need to.
The leisure aspect of this Thai resort is best described as a “boys’ night out” where a dizzying array of neon and flesh greet you. Drinks are affordable and the permissive attitude of this freewheeling city draws a party atmosphere. By day the sweeping beach and bay and, surprisingly, family attractions, appeal to Bangkok weekenders.
For more than 500 years, Thai massage has been part of the local culture. The cheaper ones are small street corner parlors, but choose one that looks legitimate, as many in Bangkok are not employed by licensed professionals. Resorts and hotels have the most high-end treatments and a price tag to match.