Travels with my Godmother: Bangkok Shopping and Eating

Travels with my Godmother: Bangkok Shopping and Eating

So, what happened after we had finally passed the Thai border after our minivan trip from Kampot?  Bangkok Shopping and Eating seemed a long way away –  400km to be exact.

We  were stranded on the Thai side of the border, 90km separating us from the nearest town, Trat, between a rock and a hard place, either shelling out for another stuffed minibus going to Khao San Road for 1000 THB, or hoping that there might be another bus to Trat?

Well… we hired a  truck together with a few other travellers and had a jolly fast ride on the load area and pulled into Trat bus station in the late afternoon.   Early enough for us to buy regular coach tickets to Bangkok, and for the others to catch a ferry to Ko Chang. And what a bus it was – for a fraction of the minibus price we got a fancy coach with sleeper seats, and – get this – as we pulled out, a hostess came around handing out iced drinks. Yes, and as we trundled through small towns on National Route 3, looking into people’s living rooms, I thought another few week or two of this would be perfect!

Arriving in Bangkok

We arrived in Ekamai around midnight and took a cab to Sukhumvit Soi 2. But this time it was not my beloved Atlanta Hotel, but the then brand new Aspen Suites, where a huge apartment awaited us. Not that we took full advantage of it, we just went to sleep.

Bangkok Chinatown temple
We could not wait to go back to Chinatown for some serious shopping!

The next morning we moved to our new apartment at the Adelphi Grande Sukhumvit. This was probably the fanciest of all our accommodations, a smaller apartment, but on a high floor, with a formal seating area, a fully equipped kitchen, washer-dryer and great views. The property had a decent sized pool, nice pool area, a gym, and decent breakfast buffet. The area was very quiet, yet still 5 minutes walk to the Phrom Phong Skytrain, with a surprising number of older renovated houses, and quietly wealthy-looking smaller apartment buildings. The small Miracle Mall on the intersection with Sukhumvit Road had a great supermarket with lots of Japanese food

After being on the road a lot in Cambodia and me being ill, we just slathered on some sunscreen, lounged by the pool and read for half a day while the washing machine spun the dirt out of our minimalist travel wardrobe.

But then, shopping! Food! And more sightseeing in Bangkok!

Fabric Hauling in Bangkok

I can think of two more places for great fabric in Bangkok: Khompastr and Jim Thompson.

Let’s start with Khomapastr. The company was founded in 1948 and has its headquarters in Hua Hin, along with their flagship store. Khomapastr has used traditional block printing technique. Their lightweight cotton fabrics are comparable to Liberty Tana Lawn but somewhat cheaper. Designs do tend to stay fairly traditional Thai or South East Asian, with  many naturalistic motives, the fabric often embellished with gold  and  machine-printed .  They also sell home accessories and ready-made garments.  I came across Khomapastr by chance because they had a small shop near our accommodation (not any more). I am pleased to say they have kept a Bangkok presence and can now be found  at Naret Road next to Bangrak Police Station. Having sewn  their  fabric, I can confirm  it handles and sews beautifully, very easily and comparably to “Tana Lawn” Liberty cotton. A big recommendation if you like naturalistic colourful designs.

The other one is the stalwart of Thai silk, Jim Thompson Fabrics. The ex US Army officer extended hos deployment in Thailand and in the late 1940’s he founded a silk store and soon after a silk production company in Bangkok. I find it best to start with his old residence in the Siam Centre area (use the National Stadium or Ratchathewi station), which is a great example of traditional Thai architecture, strewn with tasteful artefacts, then peruse the extensive store there to see if you like the style.

So after a morning of laundry and pool lazing, we headed to the Jim Thompson Factory Outlet Store . It’s a straightforward ride by skytrain to Bang Na, then a few stops on the bus along Sukhumvit Road.  Now the skytrain has been extended, Bang Chak is the nearest stop.

Head into Sukhumvit Soi 93 and walk 200m until you see what looks like a office building on the left.

The choice is enormous, especially when it comes to fabrics.

silk at Jim Thompson outlet in Bangkok
Arrray of solid coloured Thai silk at Jim Thompson Outlet (photo from my trip in 2013)

Not all are silk, not all are made in Thailand, so it pays to check the labels. I bought mainly soft furnishings fabrics here but silk accessories can sometimes be found for a fraction of the retail price. What I didn’t find so much was fabrics to make clothes with – much is either silk or mix fabric,  leaning towards the more opulent, more patterned designs, patterns that might appeal to the somewhat older lady.  I found some Colefax and Fowler fabric here, which is more Chelsea townhouse than Northern English terrace, but well… I did buy some linen curtain… All silks were dry clean only as well.

fabrics on rolls at Jim Thompson factory outlet
Some of the designs at Jim Thompson may appeal to more… conservative tastes (photo from my trip in 2013)

However, checking out their website, they appeared to have refreshed their design, which now also includes wall paper and even furniture. Their designs don’t look out of place in fancy coffee table magazines like Homes and Gardens, definitely nit your standard Home Furnishings Fare.

A couple full-size curtains in tow, we headed back to our apartment, now a bit hungry.

Looks rank, tastes wonderful – braised bean curd at tiny Chinese Restaurant

After my spicy seaweed and braised bean curd it was time for a nap, but at 5pm we set off for another place we wanted to see Pantip Plaza. Once the place to go for all things software and electronics, it has have suffered quite a bit now everything is subscription-only, and is a shadow of its former self. Dinner is a smoothie outside the Central World Plaza,  conveniently locate but not terribly exciting mall, then we sink into out fluffy beds for another day of Bangkok.

Shopping in Chinatown

Of course, another trip to shop til we drop led  to Chinatown. Up bright and early with the business people, we stuffed ourselves on hotel breakfast and hopped on the No.25 Bus which, for 8 Baht, would take us all the way to Charoen Krung Road – an excellent starting point to Chinatown.


In Bangkok Chinatown
Charoen Krung and Yaowarat Roads make perfect entry points to Chinatown

Casually browsing the roadside amulet sellers first, I spotted a tiny stall on the pavement advertising eyebrow threading. Before I know it, I had a plastic bib round my neck and an Alice band holding back my hair, and the stern woman transforms my eyebrows with accuracy and speed. Thrilled with our first bargain, we cut through Yaowarat Road, drink a pomegranate juice, then were ready to tackle the already buzzing Soi Wanit 1.

The first few hundred metres into Chinatown, the little side streets were dominated by food stalls.

Bangkok Shopping and Eating - streetfood in Chinatown
Dazzling array of street food
Bangkok Shopping and Eating
Catch a bus, take a snack
Bangkok Shopping and Eating
I never figured out what these puffy things are
Bangkok Shopping and Eating
Pickles – popular wherever you are!

Further in, small shops took over, ans we got increasingly laden with stuff and I barely managed to take my camera out…

Here we could combine our loves for kitsch, printed Japanese fabric, and jewellery making supplies in one huge crazy shopping jumble.  Strong nerves and and sturdy shoes are needed –  shops are narrow, cut deep into the older shophouses, then  spill out into the street, making the already narrow lane an obstacle course. One  that is further complicated by small odd motorised vehicles trying to cut through as well, but mostly it’s carts and wheelbarrows delivering more stock that you want to dodge.  Any area, however small, that isn’t fully occupied by shop spillage is taken by smaller independent traders and food stalls.

Bangkok Shopping and Eating
Roadside pomelo as a snack, anyone?

Seriously, if we hadn’t been laden with stuff and juice bottles already, I would have taken a few kilos of fruit back to our small kitchen.

Who needs a mall when you have Chinatown? I always loved coming here, but found it’s better to come early int he morning or an hour before closing time, as the street can feel claustrophobic at times. From cheap kitchen implement to toys, gifts, stationary, jewellery supplies – you can almost find anything here. Fairly in the centre is a whole long sections with fabrics and haberdashery. By the time we arrive at the ribbons and haberdashery, we’re already laden with  with bits and pieces: foam doughnut key rings, stickers, bias tape.

I cannot remember the names of all the shops, but for  something cheap and cheerful of a mostly pretty good quality, look no further than Chinatown. Much later, I found this amazingly detailed guide to  fabric shopping in Bangkok, and now I cannot wait to visit again and to to all these shops.

Once we emerged on the Chakkrawat Road, we were done. We plonked our various bags and bits on the table in a tiny Indian cafe have a lassi and stow our purchases in sensible rucksacks in the air-conditioned coolness. We did have a bit of an agenda which also included the India Emporium across the road and checking out the shops of the more Indian Pahurat area, but we scrapped them, eating samosas and watching Indian music videos and deciding on our next itinerary item.

Some of the more… obscure museums: The Siriraj Hospital Forensic Medicine Museum

Because it wasn’t all shopping… in our quest to get away from the more tourist-oriented Bangkok, we got ourselves to the Siriraj Hospital. My non-medic friend had a great desire to visit the Forensic Medicine Museum there. Well… interesting but what really stuck was the concerted effort of the Thai authorities to identify the victims of the 2004 tsunami that was documented there.

So we walked to the boat pier through the flower market (beautiful but not the most… salubrious area),  ,went  up and down the river on the public boat and finally decide on the Siriraj Hospital now. The zoo, top of  godmothers list of priorities, is scrapped. The meditation class at Wat Mahatat  I wanted to attend, also scrapped.  By the time we finished taking the boat all the way to Nonthaburi and drink a coffee there, we feel rested to tackle what’s a joint priority.

Negotiating the vast campus of the Siriraj Hospital is fun, and for the first time, we appear the only Westerners far and wide. There are three or four museums on campus, all a bit obscure and perhaps not part of the typical Bangkok itinerary. We visit the “Siriraj Medical Museum” which is basically a forensic medicine exhibit, having come into notoriety for chronicling the aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami. This I found the most interesting part of the museum – the other was too much resembling basic Pathology and therefore too reminiscent of university and exams –  but with very few explanations in English.

Around 4pm we walked back to the pier, took the boat, then a skytrain and were back at our Sukhumvit hotel in 20minutes – not bad in rush hour traffic. Another visit to the pool, then on to what Bangkok evenings are great for: more shopping! I’m pretty much done with malls but godmother cannot get enough of them, so when it comes to a choice between a drink at the Oriental Hotel and the MBK Center, the mall wins hands down. I insist n a trip to the food court first. The food court is brilliant in a more tourist-oriented area. We paid 150THB buy a very large papaya salad, vegetarian fried noodles, two smoothies and sticky rice.

We rolled across the top floor after dinner, surveying T-shirts, souvenirs and cosmetics aplenty. While godmother is going through the tiny stalls and shops with unbridled enthusiasm, I get some business cards made , and we agree to call it a day and head to a massage salon on the way. As those near our hotel close early (around 20.00) we used our safe fall-back option in Soi Sukhumvit 5, called Bua Thip  – which is open until midnight.

Bangkok Shopping and Eating – Final Call

Our final full day in Bangkok arrived.  And we still had a long list of what we really wanted to do!

First of all, after buying the fabric, we went to see the former residence of Jim Thompson, now surrounded by skyscrapers.

In the pretty garden, plants were still being watered and counters dusted when we pitched up, fresh off the skytrain, and proceeded in a neat little group of five into the former residence, which really is five or six vintage traditional timber houses combined.

Bangkok Shopping and Eating - Jim Thompson House and shop
An oasis in the centre of town – the Jim Thompson residence

Unlike many of the Jim Thompson-branded silks, the house interior is pared-back  with a restrained colour scheme and dotted with antiques. A lot of it is accessible without a guided tour, and convenently, there is a  shop on site where you can familiarize yourself with the Jim Thompson style and see if it’s for you.

There is something about old wooden houses I really love

After this, we transitioned smoothly into more shopping by visiting  River City Bangkok. A cross between an antique dealers, a mall and some very nice cafes, this place was always near-deserted every time I visited. It used to really dowdy 1970’s concrete mall, and be of interest only if you were interested in arts and antiques. Since my last trip, it has been remodeled and I believe it is now quite a swish mall, with an emphasis on arts and lifestyle, but still plenty of upmarket antiques dealers.

Another holiday itinerary – hair and beauty

With a tight itinerary, we went back to  MBK to “tie up some loose ends”  – mainly, hair cuts. First, we ate in a  Japanese restaurant and get stuffed for just over 12 Euro.

There are plenty of salons where you can have existing hair tended and unwanted hair removed. They are frequented by a fair few Westerners, so we always found someone who speaks English… but as foreigners, we  got talked into the “protein spa” which was basically some hair mask. So my cheapo haircut turned into a rather averaged-priced one, but it was good –  a perfect straight bob lasted three minutes. I took advantage of my elegant coiffure and tidy eyebrows and get decent passport photos too. All this eating, shopping and being pampered turns out so exhausting, we return to our hotel for a nap. In fact, I can barely be roused come evening.

We had planned to go to the Oriental Hotel ( I even brought appropriate clothes!) for the third night in a row now, , but don’t quite manage it. Godmother is leaving tomorrow afternoon and requests we finish our trip how we started it – with cheap thrills at Suan Lum night market (now demolished).

The chill blast of the skytrain woke me up again, and once the food stalls come into sight, my mood brightens significantly. I eat the best tom yum soup on this trip, served in a big plastic vat. Then, we went shopping. Again. Loaded up for the last time we made a very swift journey back home in a cab, the driver taking us a novel route and going 1t 100km/h in city traffic.

Final Day in Bangkok

Then, one more day, and that’ll be it. We finally took a lie-in , we lie by the pool, and when it comes to getting tarted up and heading to the Oriental… well, it never happened. Instead, we walk edas far as the Miracle Mall just at the end of our soi, and I spend whatever money I still had at Khomapastr Fabrics, then we headed to the deli counter of the supermarket and bought whatever we fancied… to set up a “buffet” on our coffee table. I have to add, it’s been a bit of a holiday tradition of ours – every time we went on holiday together, we perused local market stalls and made  “buffets” in our accommodation.

Then it was  time to accompany godmother to Sukhumvit Road, help her negotiate a reasonable price for an airport taxi and after a tearful goodbye, get the longest and most expensive massage in the local massage salon before returning to the hotel alone, which feels really strange after the wonderful fortnight we just had.

Hostess with the mostest…

My flight is some time the next morning –  after some last minute shopping for tiger balm, inhalation sticks and rice crackers, then it’s my turn to taxi it to the airport, fly back to Singapore, then on to London, and back to King’s Cross, where I met up with a friend then started my trip back up North.


Where we stayed

We spent four nights at the Adelphi Grande Sukhumvit, a new-ish apartment hotel in a quiet leafy side street of Sukhumvit Road. For the price, the place was fantastic – really nice area, modern, super clean, very friendly. We had a “Deluxe Suite” which was compact but cleverly finished in traditional style – this is no design hotel. Everything in our room worked, and it was quiet and comfortable .

The included breakfast had lots of choice, including some Japanese food, the quality was okay. Certainly  a place I would return to, as the price was really good at around 40 Euros (At present you can book it for as little as 25 Euros) , the area really nice and quiet, with some good Chinese and Japanese restaurants in an alley behind the Miracle Mall, as well as a couple of superb traditional Thai Massage salons. And yet, the skytrain is just 5 minutes away.

Other recommended  Hotels in Bangkok

I visited Bangkok in 1996, 2003, 2004, 2009 and 2013 and over the years, found my favourite places and areas in Bangkok to stay.

Budget to Moderate

I doubted anything from that first trip to Bangkok was still standing but I was so wrong! So the honour of the first review goes to the very first place I stayed in Bangkok…

A-One Inn

The A-One Inn is one of the first “backpacker accommodations” to open in Bangkok away from the more obvious Khao San Road. Soi Kasemsan was a sleepy tiny alley then, now it is a bit busier but super central and still hosts a few interesting budget accommodation options, just a stone’s throw from the NAtional Stadium right int he modern centre of BAngkok. And that’s about it. I am afraid! What suited us as skint students may no longer be a great option to stay, and in fact, online reviews have been rather bad. However, if you like the location, take a look at the next recommendation!

Patumwan House

Patumwan House also in Soi Kasemsan 1 is super central close to Jim Thompson’s House, canal boats and the sky train. The inn is  in an older mid-rise building with rooms in more “classic” style starting at 17 Euros for a double, whoich, for the standard of accommodation and location, is terrific value!

Atlanta Hotel

I have gone on about the Atlanta Hotel before, and in fact, I wrote  an entire post on it because this hotel is really special and in terms of retro style, very hard to beat. The Atlanta is also near Sukhumvit Road, a bit more central in Soi Sukhumvit 2, however, the area altogether is a bit seedy and filled with Western restaurants and hostess bars. There is no such clientele at the Atlante, in case you wonder, as they take a severe stance against all kinds of exploitation and sex tourism and they do prefer families or solo females, and you stand  a good chance to be accepted if you are a returning guest. I thought they had become a bit pricey considering the rooms, although clean, are still spartan, but with the cheapest room costing 900THB and the most expensive 2300 THB, you cannot really compare it with the newer, slicker but also blander establishments.

The Rawleekanlaya Hotel

The Raweekanlaya hotel is a former Royal Residence in a green oasis yet right in a nice area north of Khao San Road with good access to river bus and bus. Where can you find a double with a pool in walking distance to the Royal Palace and Wat Po with a pool starting from 12 Euro for a double?  True luxury on a budget!

The rooms are decorated in a simple sweet country house style and there are a garden and a pool! I have already bookmarked it for my next stay. Edit 2023: The property appears to have morphed into a five-star hotel, but has rooms for about 50 Euro per night – still very curious about it, especially as I love the area!

Yak’s House Inn

Here’s another  budget option with easy access to the Royal Palace and Wat Po without having to resort to overly touristy Khao San Road! Across the river from Dusit and Khao San Road, Yak’s House Inn is a modern inn with both dorm and private rooms on a rather busy road intersection (bring earplugs) with good bus and river boat  connections to the centre. Its super modern, clean and neat in a minimalist way.  It is located in  the rather off the radar area behind Siriraj Hospital starting at 13 Euro for a double room.


“Moderate” is by default budget although I do admit that in Bangkok or in Thailand generally, I have spent about half my time in super cheap but comfy accommodations, only to use the money I saved to buy a few nights somewhere luxurious. This trip was a bit of an exception, as godmothers default option is the reasonably priced four-star with a special offer on – see above!

Shanghai Mansion

I wish I had known about well-priced mid-range accommodation in Chinatown back in 2009 – no endless hauling of shopping bags required! The Shanghai Mansion has super sumptuous Chinese-Art-Deco styled room in a historic 19th Century villa in the heart of Chinatown!  Room start at 26 Euros for this central gem on Yaowarat Road in easy walking distance to Hualamphong Train Station.  Slight drawbacks are absence of a pool ( it’s a small hotel in a super built up area) and being right on busy Yaowarat Road means it might be somewhat noisy.

Siam Heritage Hotel

Not far from Hualamphong Train Station but in the opposite direction from Chinatown, the  Siam Heritage Hotel on Surawong Road is another great budget to moderate priced hotel with style. With rooms starting at 15 Euro for a double, you get some homely faux traditional Thai style in bright modern rooms, a roof terrace with a small pool in walking distance to Hualamphong Train Station and  the Silom Area. The once notorious Patpong Alley is also nearby but with the fleshpots being splashed all over town now, it is easy to avoid this particular road and its clientele.

Amari Watergate Hotel

I have added this under “moderate” even though the Amari Watergate hotel  is a big luxurious five star place. It is a bit away from anything touristy, in a rather commercial area on Phetchaburi Road, one of a glut of “middle aged” large hotels aimed at business travellers. It is also not too convenient if you rely on public transport – with just direct access to the khlong river bus and the bus. But starting from 45 Euros for a large king room in a huge sleek design five star luxury property with all the amenities to boot, with malls and restaurants nearby, it would be foolish not to recommend!


About 80% of my accommodation are budget or mid-price but every now and then I love  a bit  of luxury.

Bangkok Pullman Hotel G / ex Sofitel Silom

This was honestly one of my first luxury hotel experiences, and it made me a Sofitel fan for a number of years – and I stayed there a few times. The first time, I arrived from some cheap accommodation in pouring rain, looking like a drowned dog with my backpack, not really fitting into the target clientele… pretty unfazed by it all, and my room not being ready, I got whisked away to a spa to shower, then was treated to a luxury dinner in the hotel restaurant, and when my room was finally ready, I had been upgraded.

It has since been rebranded to Bangkok Pullman Hotel G but still gets excellent reviews. Rooms are a decent size, bright, sparingly and elegantly decorated, and it has since been redecorated but I am glad the hardwood floors and sparse elegant design has stayed.  The hotel is in a commercial area so cafes and restaurants are slightly thin on the ground, but you literally fall out the door onto a skytrain – you can even walk to the river bus pier! All yours starting at 40 Euros a night!

Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel

This older hotel comes with a bit of history. When its predecessor was built in the 1950s, a chain of unfortunate even tragic events marred the building progress. After consulting an astrology expert, it was deemed that the hotels foundation stone was laid on an inauspicious day and a shrine dedicated to Brahma had to be constructed to appease the upset spirits. After the shrine, construction proceeded without further problems. The old hotel was demolished in the 1980’s and the current hotel built on its site.  The shrine is still there and a tourist attraction in itself and I have visited a lot, usually shortly before a flight home – doesn’t hurt to ask for a bit of extra support! The Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel a luxury hotel with the usual amenities, located on two skytrain lines and near a park and with no more than five major malls including the upmarket Gaysorn Mall, a shoppers dream.

Rooms are decorated in somewhat generic sumptuous Western decor. It does look lovely but as an avoider of hotel carpet flooring it would not be my first choice.  Rooms can be snapped up from 70 Euros per night.

The Sukhothai

Here’s another early 1990s hotel that has aged well and instead of building up high, this hotel is a pleasant modernist complex set in extensive gardens. The  Sukhothai Hotel unobtrusive architecture, the classic pared down design, the wonderful pool and comfortable rooms are truly luxurious. Rooms are available from about 95 Euros. I stayed there in 2011 and would definitely consider it again although the nearby Banyan Tree Hotel (from 65 Euros)  and the Dusit Thani, Grand Dame of Bangkok Luxury Hotels and currently being renovated until 2023, are other great luxury options on a moderate budget nearby.

The only drawback of the area, if I am honest with you, is the absence of anything going on at street level. No restaurants, cafes, shops etc and a fair walk to the nearest metro station. If you are happy luxuriating in the beautiful surroundings and on hotel food, this should not bother you, but it’s a long walk to a small independent restaurant or food court.

Chakrabongse Villas

Last not least… Chakrabongse Villas   is   small, exclusive riverside retreat literally next to Wat Po and the most exclusive of my recommendations here. It is rare to find top-end accommodation in the old Bangkok centre of Rattanakosin – and this is one of them.  Starting at around 150 per double room including breakfast rooms are far from cheap but pretty special.

And the fabled Oriental Hotel, you may ask? Well. I hope that one day I will make it to the bar, but the price tag of about 450 Euros per night for a standard room is where I draw the line – this kind of budget will buy a week or two in Bangkok, so I have not reached these levels of luxury yet, however famous the hotel.

Where to Eat

I already mentioned a few places above, but generally I prefer local food to restaurants aimed at tourists, and I have no experience of fine dining in Bangkok.

I have eaten in or near Khao San Road a few times because this is where other people wanted to eat, and none of the restaurants were that great, with the exception of Mai Kaidee, a once famous vegetarian restaurant which has now reopened in New York City…. as you do!

My go-to places in Bangkok are usually food courts, of which the ones that are frequented by THais or a mixture of locals and tourists/expats are particularly good if you like Thai food.  The ones in MBK Center and Siam Center are particularly good.

If you stay at the Atlanta Hotel, definitely eat at the hotel restaurant. It has a large menu (usually suspicious but okay in this case) with a lot of vegetarian and non-vegetarian dishes at pretty reasonable prices, and the quality of the cooking is great. The hotel is a bit of a trek to get to, and their policy is to only allow for hotel guests to eat there – with very few exceptions. We did manage to get a non-staying family member or two in by asking in advance and reserving a table, but some of the party has to be a hotel guest.

The area between Silom Road around the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple and River City Mall is an interesting older commercial area with lots of older shophouses, schools and churches in between the high rises. Unfortunately, I was not clever enough to write down the names of the restaurants when I visited there, but there are several classy Thai restaurants in the area that serve a mix of middle-class locals and tourists.

Another area I will definitely pay a closer look to, food-wise is the area I write about in my earlier Bangkok post, between the Wat Saket and  Wat Phra Kaew.  While these well-known temples get a lot of visitors, those in between often don’t but are just as beautiful. And in between there, are a few culinary gems, startin with Raan Jai Fai of the Netflix Street Food Series fame. Don’t even think of casually walking by for a bite to eat – the restaurant is famous, tiny, totally rammed and has a Michelin Star.  There are plenty other Thai, Chinese and Indian Restaurants in the area.

Where to Shop

To be honest… Bangkok is a shopping paradise, with numerous malls, markets, specialty shops…. you name it!  I am not into mega malls or international brands much so you won’t find them here.

It is hard where to start.

A lot of my holiday “souvenirs” are jewellery, sometimes opium weights and fabrics, so the above post should give you some recommendations. I also buy lots of “everyday” items as souvenirs which I find supermarkets particularly useful for. I never come home without a good supply of Tiger Balm, Golden Cup Balm, inhalation sticks and Thai rice crackers and sweets.

In addition to the places mentioned above, I  particularly like the jewellers quarter north of Silom Road, Mahesak Road going up to Surawong Road for quality stones and jewellery supplies

What about Chatuchak Weekend Market?  I’ve been there once and walked out with… two small fabric pouches. Yes, I bought nothing, but that might just be me being overwhelmed and not into super cheap clothes and home decor any more.

The Nancy Chandler Map of Bangkok used to be a excellent reference for all things Shopping. It focused on small-ish one-of-a-kind shops rather than international brands and  I have perused it a lot! Unfortunately, its creator passed away in 2015 and map business wound doon a few years after that. The 28th Edition of  2018 is the last one as far as I know. You can still find plenty of second hand ones but they may not be terribly up to date.

The Small Print

As mentioned above, this post is about a trip in 2009, so  places and situations change. I have researched every place mentioned in here again and updated to 2021 information. Further minor edits (accommodation updates) were made in October 2023. I hope you can use this post as an inspiration for your Bangkok travel plans.

I have not stayed in all the accommodations I recommend, but have stated ( and paid full price where I did) where I stayed. All other accommodation recommendations are based on research and recommendations from fellow travellers. Some of these contain  affiliate links to, which means I may earn a small commission if you book through one of these links. I do use for over 60% of my own hotel bookings and even during last year when I cancelled five or so trips because of the virus situation, they have been nothing but helpful, so I can recommend them.   I work a full-time job and do not make money from this blog, but write for fun, but any commission helps with the running cost of the blog – but I don’t depend on it, so feel free to use your preferred booking site or better, book with the hotel directly, especially the smaller independent ones.


12 thoughts on “Travels with my Godmother: Bangkok Shopping and Eating”

    • Hi ALex, thank you for your nice comment! I was set to go last week… didn’t happen because of a family illness but this might be why I dug the post out…

  • The food sounds really good! Shopping at stalls and making a buffet on your hotel room is such a good idea. Our son doesn’t want to go out for dinner every day on vacation, so we usually also do something like that a couple of days during our vacation.

    • Hi Cosette, yes, we were quite good at that… although in Thailand the street food is so good and cheap… but often we’d have different food preferences

  • to eat and shop where the locals are would be wonderful…the food really good..and such rich history.. I would love to explore Bangkok sometime

    • Hi Jennifer, absolutely! I mean Bangkok is very touristy but certain pockets of the cirty (e.g. Khao San Road, Nana etc) are more touristy than others and best avoided

  • I went to Bangkok a few years ago but never went to Chinatown, I hope to return one day and see the city and eat more of the delicious foods with this post! Thanks 🙂

    • Hi Jenn, indeed, Bangkok is huge! I must have been five times, always had a penchant for Thailand and it makes a convenient stopover destination for us Europeans. Chinatown can be very busy, but I try to visit every tine because it’s so colourful, has great food and yes, the fabric shopping is grand.

  • Wow such an exciting trip to Bangkok! Must have been a refreshing trip!

    • Hi Puloma, thank you for your comment! Yes, it was refreshing, thanks to our nice hotel with the pool – perfect to retreat after too much city heat. Sadly, it does not look like being carefree and spontaneous in Bangkok is a thing this year – all travel I have heard about so far is to resorts in Thailand but there is hope

  • Love all these tips! I’ve visited Bangkok a couple of times already, but I would absolutely love to go back. I miss Thailand! And I definitely agree with you that the food at May Kaidee is delicious!

    • Hi Roxanne, thank you for visiting! Thailand is so high on my wish list right now, I was getting all soppy when I wrote the post. it may be a bit busy but the shopping, the food and the culture and not to forget the great hair studios and spas are so wonderful. I am a bit sad though that May Kaidee appears to have relocated to New York City!

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