Antiques, foods and Thai crafts: A handful of the city’s best riverside shopping locations.
With so much of Bangkok’s history to absorb, there won’t be much time left for shopping. However, there are a few little treats lined up in the form of Thai arts, crafts and antiquities at River City or OP Place next to the famous Mandarin Oriental Hotel. Or, for a really local shopping experience, it costs all of 2.5 baht to cross the river from the pier between River City and the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel & Towers. What you’ll discover on the other side, tucked away in an alley next to the Millennium Hilton Hotel, is as local as it gets; clothing, shoes, bags, fashion accessories, fresh fruits…there really is so much to explore! Here are just a few options to tame that shopaholic craving.
Asiatique The Riverfront
Asiatique has successfully combined two of the most popular shopping experiences in the city: a night bazaar and a mall. Ten minutes downriver from Saphan Taksin BTS station this once-bustling international trade port has been transformed, with over 1,500 boutiques and 40 restaurants housed under a huge replica warehouse complex. Spending an evening here is no problem as you’ll have great fun browsing the boutiques and picking up gifts. Shows are also performed nightly, such as the Calypso Ladyboy Cabaret and a classic Thai puppet performance by the Joe Louis Theatre. The easiest and fastest way to get to Asiatique is via boat. Take the BTS to Saphan Taksin and jump on the free shuttle at the end of the pier. The boat runs until 11pm.
Chareonkrung Soi 74-76
Opening Hours: Daily, 5pm-midnight
Oriental Plaza (OP Place)
Even if you haven’t come to Bangkok to take home an antique stone elephant or art from the northern tribes of Thailand, Oriental Plaza (OP Place) is still a fantastic place to visit. This shopping centre is more like an art gallery or museum than a department store with 50 boutiques displaying a host of fantastic pieces to admire. As well as fine arts shops there are also some well-known tailors and jewellers. OP Place also has a reputation for luxury with all antiques having been issued with certificates from Thailand’s Fine Arts Department.
The Plaza was completed in 1908 and was once the centre for trade in the early 20th century. It is very fitting that this used to be the European neighbourhood as OP Place’s facade is neoclassical, standing out amongst the ramshackle shops and houses that border the lanes around it. It is easy to spend an hour or so walking around, checking out the curios and lusting after beautiful works of art. Also, it’s only a few minutes walk along Charoen Krung (New Road), just turn left when you see the sign.
30/1 Soi Charoen Krung 38
(behind the Mandarin Oriental Hotel)
Opening Hours: Daily, 10:30am-6:30pm
(some stores close on Sundays)
River city Shopping Complex
Built around 1980, River City is a four-storey building that started life as a huge Thai and Asian Antique showcase with dozens of shops displaying the most amazing pieces of antique artefacts. However, over the years its glory gradually faded and until recently, River City was merely considered a pier where tourists would embark for excursions down the river. A couple of years ago, however, River City rose from its ashes to once again shine as a landmark shopping complex along the river bank.
The new complex takes advantage of its unique riverside location and four trendy bars and restaurants now offer seating on a wide wooden deck, exactly the kind of night venue that was missing in Bangkok. Meanwhile, shopping includes everything from art and antiques to jewelry and handmade cosmetics.
Charoen Krung Soi 30
(next to the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel)
Opening Hours: 10am-8pm
Tha Maharaj Mall
Tha Maharaj is one of only a handful of shopping malls located in Bangkok’s historic Old City. Walking distance from many of the capital’s most famous sights such as Wat Pho and the Grand Palace, Tha Maharaj also benefits from an idyllic riverside location with its very own pier so arriving by boat is the most popular way to reach the mall.
If you’re on a sightseeing trip, the mall is simple to reach on foot and is only a few minutes from The Grand Palace. In terms of shopping, options are mostly centered around fashion, beauty and antique boutiques. The second floor does have a few interesting units filled with amulet dealers who have a wide range of styles, including hard-to-find originals. The elegant pavilion-styled architecture make it a special shopping experience.
Tha Maharaj, 11/1, Maharaj Rd.
Opening Hours: Daily, 10am-10pm
Yodpiman River Walk
Yodpiman River Walk is a lifestyle mall focusing on a heritage theme inspired by the architecture of Thailand’s Ayuthaya period, and features the longest riverside walkway in the Rattanakosin area. Ornate, period fixtures are fitted throughout Yodpiman and are in keeping with the feel of Old City Bangkok.
Opening in late-2014 as a self-titled Thai Heritage Mall, this is a fine place to spend an afternoon with a wide promenade with shops selling everything from flowers to fashion to Thai handicrafts. Inside of the building, you’ll discover charming little pop-up shops with fashions from many local designers. And, adding to this special setting, Yodpiman River Walk is also the location for Bangkok’s famous Flower Market, so the perfect spot to shop and collect your colourful orchids and lotus flowers.
Soi Tha Klang, Wang Burapha Phirom
(behind the Bangkok Flower Market)
Opening Hours: Daily, 10am-10pm
Ta Tian Market
Ta Tian Market is an immense fresh market located by the riverside, opposite the white walls of Wat Pho. The market itself is easily missed by most visitors who often take a break at one of the charming little cafes under the arches of the Sino-Portuguese façades, and not many actually spot the small entrance right in the middle of this U-shaped heritage style building. A discreet door opens onto a short tunnel and beyond it, only the curious traveller discovers a gigantic and busy market.
The market itself is made of a basic wood structure and shops are at best assembled with planks or at worst consist of tables folded every night. Lighting comes from bare bulbs hanging from some rough electric wires and the only visible modern facilities are fridges and mini TV sets.
Maharaj Rd. (directly across from Wat Pho)
Opening Hours: Daily, 11am-7:30pm