The Malls of Bangkok (5-6 Dec)

Bangkok is not just a city with a lot of shopping malls. It is a city that embraces shopping malls and mall culture. If reading that instantly brings up memories of late ’80s visions of girls with tight rolled jeans and mall bangs, you are dead wrong (you are also showing your age!). There is certainly no shortage of giggling teenagers, but these malls are places everyone goes, locals and tourists alike, to window shop and pass the time. Suhail and I rarely set foot in a mall at home, but in Bangkok, we celebrated the mall for all it is – and all it can be. American shopping centers could learn a thing or two from the behemoth temples of capitalism that Bangkok overflows with.

Suhail cannot believe this place!

Eating with the fishes

In Bangkok, a mall is not just a place to spend money, it provides a great way for the budget traveler to take a break from sightseeing in this chaotic city. Think about it, it has a climate controlled environment (very important for the budget traveler looking for a free place to hang out) where the food courts actually serve edible food (in fact, the food is generally quite delicious and cheap!) and browsing and people watching are always free.

Our favorite was the Siam Paragon, an upscale center where we could not really afford to shop, but could make the most of everything else on offer. A short list of just a few of those things are:

  • awesome food court (one section with Thai street-food-style vendors, another with upscale Thai treats and another with all kinds of national and international chains…this is in addition to the regular restaurants in the mall)

We tried burgers at this Japanese chain

  • fish tanks filled with tropical fish (there is an expensive, but renowned aquarium in the basement of the mall, so they are really just an advertisement)
  • a great bookstore with lots of English titles
  • an incredible gourmet grocery (grocery stores are one of my favorite places to explore in foreign countries and this one also offered tasty free samples)
  • a reasonably priced movie theater
  • last, but not least terrific people watching

Check out the weirdo behind me! She has on old fashioned headphones and reminded me of one of those Cubs fans you’d see on the El or at the library listening to the game on their transistor radios

Another thing we could not believe was the number of events sponsored by the malls in Bangkok.

Amsterdam in Bangkok

In the course of two days, we encountered such odd things as an event put on by the Dutch Tourism Board, which was like a bizarre mini-Dutch theme park (that one offered free food, so it was swamped, and a really bizarre thing where you dress like a Rembrandt subject and they take your photo with a backdrop like the appropriate painting), a harp performance and our all-time favorite to date, a little guy we like to call “Sax Man.” Check out his performance below.


  1. Ani S. wrote:

    I like the idea that shopping malls are more epic in other countries that in the U.S.–talk about foreign ingenuity!
    Is the Sax Man really playing or is that a recording? I love how everybody is completely ignoring him.

    • kristen wrote:

      Oh yes, the sax man is indeed playing! He is accompanying, or shall I say enhancing, a recording. Most people were totally ignoring him…that’s why when he saw us recording him, he came over and hammed it up. I am not sure you can tell from the video, but he walked over and like nodded at the camera at one point. Amazing!

      And, YES!!! Future shopping trip to Bangkok? Suhail and Mickey can go to the skate park and we will have plenty of better things to do. 🙂

  2. Ani S. wrote:

    Shopping/skate trip to Bangkok sounds awesome!

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