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Bangkok Shopping

Chatuchak Weekend Market

Hop the extremely efficient MRT underground rail to Bangkok's famous weekend market but do not get off at Chatuchak Park Station. Exit instead at Kamphaeng Phet Station, which delivers shoppers straight into the market madness of more than 10,000 stalls crammed with crafts, flowers, antiques, clothes, and unrecognizable exoticisms. Tourists and Thais alike bargain hard here, but the most experienced shoppers break for fresh juice and snacks at Viva in Section 26, a series of lanes filled with silver jewelry and hill tribe frocks. Protect yourself from mosquitoes organically with the spray and body lotion available only at Lemongrass House (Shop 502, Section 5, Soi 3). Pick up a copy of Nancy Chandler's Map of Bangkok with its dedicated Chatuchak map, though casual strollers will be satisfied to roam the outer lanes near the MRT exit, taking note of the return path. Though there are information booths, maps, restrooms, and ATMs at all main entrances, urban myths abound about those who get lost among the live caged animals here.

Open Saturdays and Sundays 8 am to 6 pm.

Enlever Ses Vêtements
59/3 Sukhumvit 31
Klong Toey Nua
Wattana
Bangkok
Thailand 10110
Tel: 66 2 260 4660

No advertising was necessary when this sparse boutique opened along Bangkok's most popular traffic shortcut, known as the Green Line. Cars cruise past at a snail's pace during the busiest hours, ensuring plenty of attention on the window displays of clean-lined men's linen suits and simple, well-cut women's frocks that look straight off European runways (but at more accessible prices). A small ready-to-wear collection complements the in-demand bespoke service. It takes about a week for the shop to complete the garment. Expect to have to stop in for a fitting two to three days after you make the initial order.

Narai Phand
127 Ratchadamri Road
Pathumwan
Bangkok
Thailand 10330
Tel: 66 2 252 4670
www.naraiphand.com/aboutus.php

An excellent alternative to the madness of Chatuchak Market, this handicrafts center across the street from the Central World Plaza is backed by the Thai government and provides one-stop souvenir shopping in an air-conditioned, modern department store environment. Over several floors you'll find all variety of neatly organized stations; a few sell the same touristy baubles you'll find in every other bazaar, but with patience and a discerning eye, you'll also find items that are hipper, more sophisticated, and of higher quality. The first floor has textiles, clothing, and home accessories like silk pillowcases. The second floor is a bonanza of lacquerware, celadon, elaborately decorated tea sets, Thai dancing dolls, and figurines of all materials; a small selection of traditional Thai musical instruments and a stock of crystal ship models of Thai dragon boats are worth a look even if you're not in the mood to buy. On the third floor you can invest in an enormous wooden elephant statue or marvel at the stock of furniture made from recycled wood—most of the pieces look like they still belong in the forest from which they came. This is not the type of store where you can bargain, but don't despair—prices are reasonable.

Oriental Art of Living
1124–1134 Charoen Krung Road
Bangkok
Thailand 10500
Tel: 66 2 639 5870

Small, almost souvenir-size antiquities from around the region (China, Thailand, Vietnam) fill the street-facing ground floor of this cavernous gallery between River City Shopping Center and the Mandarin Oriental Hotel. But for the real treasures, head upstairs to see the jaw-dropping ancient objects. The incredibly rare collection attracts international curators and well-known collectors, so you're likely to rub shoulders with the art world as you ogle the beautiful, authentic (and pricey) booty.

Rasi Sayam Fine Thai Crafts
82 Sukhumvit Soi 33
Khlong Toei
Bangkok
Thailand 10110
Tel: 66 2 262 0729
www.rasisayam.com

This elegant shop is well-stocked with beautiful examples of benjarong (traditional Thai porcelain), using 22-carat gold. You'll also find ceramics, silks, wall hangings, wood carvings, baskets, laquerware, and traditional Thai textiles such as the multicolored, patterned Mudmee cloth, all made by over 150 producers throughout Thailand.

Closed Sundays.

Siam Discovery Center
989 Rama 1 Road
Phatumwan
Bangkok
Thailand 10330
Tel: 66 2 658 1000
www.siamdiscoverycenter.co.th

Head to the fourth floor of this indoor mall across from Siam Square to check out Thai interior design. Quirky Propaganda features homewares designed around the popular Mr. P, an endearing cartoonlike character whose escapades are captured on everything from tape dispensers to drain stoppers (66-2-658-0430; www.propagandaonline.com). Gilles Caffier is the address for sexy shag leather and faux-fur throw pillows plus cowhide beanbag chairs and serving trays (66-2-658-0487; www.gillescaffier.com). Organic Thai style permeates Panta in recycled woven floor mats and natural-fiber light fixtures (66-2-658-0415; www.pantathailand.net). Or pick up Manop Rachote's nickel-plated picture frames finished in sexy skins like stingray, alligator, and even python.

Open daily 10 am to 9 pm.

Siam Square
Phayathai Road
Phatumwan
Bangkok
Thailand 10400
Tel: 66 2 694 1222

This veritable shopping sprawl stretches across central Bangkok from Rama 1 Road to Chulalongkorn University and from Phayathai Road to Henri Dunant Road. Trendy young Thais flock to this maze of tiny boutiques to keep their closets stocked with the latest looks. No surprise, then, that one of the most popular boutiques should be called "It Happened to Be a Closet." Here walls are hung with Indian embroidered dresses and weighty Central Asian skirts displayed like works of art (226 Siam Square, Soi 3; 66-2-658-4696). The youthful groove goes Himalayan at nearby Issue where Mongolian blankets are recut as fitted blazers (266/10 Siam Square, Soi 3; 66-2-658-4416). Sneakerheads and hip-hop kids head to Kinky shop for fresh finds like limited-edition kicks and graphic-prints tees (Under Ground Lido Theatre, Siam Square, Soi 2; 66-2-252-0334). Break for cupcakes at Vanilla Industry (422/1–3 Siam Square, Soi 11; 66-2-658-4720) or for mango and sticky rice at the adorable Mango Tango café (226/1 Siam Square, Soi 2; 66-2-658-3829).

American-size shoppers may initially be shocked by the often childlike size range—a women's medium is an XL here. But it's worth the slight hit to your self-esteem when you see the low prices being charged for these handmade, often one-of-a-kind creations. If you find something you like, just buy it; its difficult to trace your way back through this warren of bargains.

S J International Joaillier
125/8 Sawankhalok
Dusit
Bangkok
Thailand 10300
Tel: 66 2 243 2446
www.sjjewelry.com

SJ International has achieved worldwide recognition in its 20 years for its good-value gems and jewelry (sapphires, diamonds, rubies, and emeralds are just a few of the stones you'll find set in rings, earrings, pendants—you name it). True to the East's reputation for service, you are offered drinks on arrival and guided around any part of the store that you wish to see. Even better, they offer free transportation to and from any area of Bangkok—just call the store's number and they'll send a car for you within the hour. Otherwise, let the Victory monument obelisk be your guide—the store is only a short distance away.

Suan Lum Night Bazaar
Lumpini Park
Wittayu Road
Phatumwan
Bangkok
Thailand 10330
www.suanlum-nightbazaar.com/EN/index.php

After-hours bargain hunters unearth endless treasures amid the kitsch in the night market's 35 acres of shops. Wide, covered walkways and the occasional air-conditioned boutique create a more dignified, comfortable shopping experience than the famed Chatuchak Weekend Market. Vendors here sell everything from handmade paper to custom leather golf bags, vintage lamps to edgy accessories. Palm reading, Thai massage, and the Joe Louis Puppet Theatre entertain nonshoppers. Look for innovative homeware design in the Lopburi Zone and this season's fashions in the Ayutthaya Zone. After the retail whirlwind, have dinner in the market's sprawling football field of a beer garden while watching a kitsch-tastic procession of cover bands.

Open daily 5 pm to 12 am.

Tailors

Despite the multitude of storefronts claiming to be couturiers, few Bangkok tailors are actually up to snuff. Underneath the Asoke Skytrain station, Tanika stands out with its tidy, inviting storefront. This is a rather Westernized shop—the layout would fit well in London's Savile Row, and the emphasis is on luxurious European fabrics, with quality wools from Ermenegildo Zegna. Few silk bolts can be found among the fabrics here, so plan a detour to one of Bangkok's top Thai Silk addresses prior to arrival.

Natty men and seemingly designer-dressed women arrive with pages ripped from their favorite magazines then leave clad in their favorite catwalk creations made to measure from Narin Couture. Quality takes time, so prepare to return in a few days' time for pickup or a final fitting. Women's dresses start as low as $25, and men's suits are 50 to 75 percent cheaper than in the United States.

Thai Celadon
8/6–8 Ratchadapisek Road
Sukhumvit Road
Asoke–Klong Toeyv Nua
Bangkok
Thailand 10110
Tel: 66 2 229 4383

The translucent green pottery developed in China 2,000 years ago to imitate jade has become synonymous with Thai dining and design. According to legend, poisoned food will change color when served on celadon, but those living in more modern times should note these pieces are not dishwasher safe. The accommodating English-speaking staff at this convenient mini-emporium around the corner from the Asoke BTS Station will package and ship dishware anywhere in the world.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 9 am to 5 pm.

Thai Home Industries
35 Oriental Avenue
Charoen Krung
Soi 40
Bangkok
Thailand 10500
Tel: 66 2 234 1736

Located in a classic Thai house in the shadow of the Oriental Hotel, this 50-year-old shop sits beneath an elegant upturned roof with mirrored shingles. The goods inside are equally impressive. Designer Jaivid Rangthong makes cutlery from single pieces of stainless steel leaving the handles as unpolished as the up-country farm tools that inspired them. These not-so-humble dinner companions have earned a spot in the permanent collection of New York's Museum of Modern Art as well as at many of the world's chicest dining-room tables. Orders for these pieces take several months and a deep pocketbook. For instant gratification, stock up on soft organic-cotton Thai farmer pants, seashell serving spoons, and thick cotton place mats that can be packed to go.

Open Mondays through Saturdays 9 am to 6:30 pm.

Thai Silk
Bangkok
Thailand

Ever since American adventurer and architect Jim Thompson, put Thai silk on the map, Bangkok has enjoyed a bustling trade in the sumptuous fabric and silk specialty shops abound in the city. You'll be in silk heaven here, where hundreds of colors and patterns can be purchased for everything from garments to upholstery. As well as silk clothing, the Jim Thompson Thai Silk Shop also sells leather goods, cushions, cosmetic bags, and picture frames. Orchids decorate this four-floor emporium, and there's even a colonial-style café on the first level (9 Surawong Rd.; 66-2-632-8100; www.jimthompson.com). In the same district you'll find Anita Thai Silk, a shop that sells affordable silk and cotton fabrics by the meter, along with a variety of other silk goods including photo frames, cushion covers and bags. Stop here for custom clothing made to order in three days time (294/4-5 Silom Rd.; 66-2-234-2481; www.anitasilk.com). Standard silks and off-the-rack outfits in styles that cater to a Western clientele can also be found at Mama Michelle, as can the usual silk goods and flowers made out of the soft stuff (348 Sukhumvit; 66-2-653-1033).

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.