Five of Bangkok’s best shopping destinations – and where to stay to be in the thick of it

Bangkok has earned itself a reputation as a consumer’s paradise, particularly when it comes to clothing, accessories and electronics. If you intend on shopping up a storm during your stay in the Thai capital, The Hansar Hotel is the place to be – it is situated within walking distance of five of the city’s most popular shopping haunts – Central World Plaza, Siam Paragon Shopping Centre, Pantip Plaza, MBK Centre and Terminal 21.

CENTRAL WORLD PLAZA

With more than 500 stores and two department stores, Central World Plaza is not only Thailand’s largest mall, its claimed to be one of the biggest in the world.

A combination of more affordable designer labels and high street fashion brands dominate here – think Coach, CK Jeans, Kate Spade, Kenneth Cole New York and Furla as well as Zara and Topshop/Topman.

The mall caters to non-shoppers too. There’s a cinema, ice-skating rink and more than 100 restaurants and cafes to choose from, including Sydney newbie, Din Tai Fung. If you’ve got a soft spot for dumplings, this is a must-visit.

SIAM PARAGON SHOPPING CENTRE

This shopping mecca houses predominantly high-end brands. Marvel at the workmanship at Louis Vuitton, take in a bit of British luxury at Burberry, lust over the diamond encrusted jewels at Bvlgari, update your watch with a Rolex (or at least try one on and pretend… one can only dream!), or check out the work of famous shoemaker, Jimmy Choo.

Fashion conscious yet burned through the savings during your travels? Jump on the escalator and head up to the first floor, where more stores including H&M, Zara and MNG can be found.

The next two floors constitute many a shoppers’ idea of heaven – there’s electronics galore from brands including Bang & Olufsen, Sony and Samsung, as well as car showrooms – and we’re not talking any old cars – there’s Aston Martin, Maserati, Lamborghini and Ferrari.

PANTIP PLAZA

If electronics are your thing, Pantip Plaza should be firmly at the top of your Bangkok shopping list.

Expect to find computes and more accessories than you can poke a stick at (software, chargers, external hard drives… the list goes on) both new and used, at hard to beat prices. It’s also brimming with IT specialists who can help out with repairs and the like.

MBK CENTRE

If you haven’t yet managed to grab an affordable gift or two for loved-ones, or you’re after a bargain for yourself, head to the MBK Centre.

Spanning eight stories, the centre is often described as an indoor market – while there are individual shops here as well as a department store, street-type stalls constitute a large portion of the mall.

Here the offering is varied – there are souvenir shirts and loose fitting pants with Thai prints (you know the ones, they are everywhere!), accessories (you’ll find counterfeit items here, so beware) such as handbags, wallets and watches, DVD’s, electronics and more.

TERMINAL 21

Ever dreamed of visiting multiple countries in one day? Well, it’s possible at Terminal 21, which pays homage to a handful of the world’s best-known cities.

On level one you’ll find a Tokyo-inspired space complete with women’s fashion, meanwhile men’s wares can be found inLondon, which is situated on level two. Beauty products, homewares, gifts and more are the focus on level three, which seeks to mirror a marketplace typical of those found in Istanbul.

Situated on the third level, Rome houses top designer brands, and there’s a floor devoted to Paris – its complete with theEiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe.

Food is a big focus here – San Francisco on the fourth and fifth floors is home to more than 50 eateries, or why not head to the ground level and immerse yourself in The Caribbean? Here you’ll find fast food outlets, a gourmet supermarket and more.

Fittingly, the cinema level employs a Hollywood Studio theme. There’s also a gym, spa and electronics area here.

THE HOTEL

The beauty of staying at The Hansar is you don’t have to worry about lugging your purchases back to the hotel on the Skytrain, nor do you have to hail a cab (unless you’re there in the dry season and its simply too hot, plus they are fairly affordable).

Built in 2012, the hotel has an overtly modern feel about it, with elements of Thai design visible throughout – the rooms feature teak wood floors and wall treatments, beaded headboards custom designed by Thai artist, Kachama, silk wall coverings and some even include their own green wall.

It seems it’s the little things that count here – we were greeted by handmade chocolates upon arrival to the room, and were also informed that beverages in the fridge (various different types of soft drink and beer) were complimentary, as were the contents of four jars neatly placed on the marble bench – Oreo’s, salted peanuts, wasabi peas and a strange tasting mini breadstick of sorts. These just so happened to be the perfect pre-dinner snack.

The Hansar Bangkok includes both hotel rooms and residence options. Hotel prices start from 5,000 THB++ (or approx. AUD $190) for a Studio Suite, and the Loft Suite is the hotel’s top offering – prices range from 25,000 to 30,000 THB++ (or approx. AUD $930 to $1120).

If you’re looking to stay a little longer, check out the residence – single bedrooms (56sqm) start at THB 60,000/month (or approx. AUD $2,235), meanwhile the two bedroom option (184sqm) is the priciest and costs THB 180,000/month (or approx. AUD $6,705).

CURE THE POST SHOPPING SPREE HUNGER

If you’re too exhausted to head outside of the hotel for dinner yet you’re looking for something fine dining, check out Eve, which specialises in French Mediterranean cuisine.

Dishes are seasonal and ingredients sourced both locally and from around the world. The winter menu includes appetisers such as Scottish Langoustine, which includes carrot mousseline, crab ravioli and lemon confit (750 BAHT++ or approx. AUD $28) and Japanese Snow Crab (550 BAHT++ or approx. AUD $20) as well as mains spanning pasta and risottos, seafood and meat, including a few Australian cuts.

If you’re keen on a quick meal before heading back out there (most retail outlets stay open until 10pm), pop into Café Boca, which serves up both Thai and western dishes.

The menu is extensive and includes everything from a Crispy Soft Shell Crab and Green Mango Salad (330 THB++ or approx. AUD $12) and Roasted Duck Red Curry (290 THB++ or approx. AUD $10) through to a Beef Lasagne (350 THB++ or approx. AUD $13) – there’s even Fish & Chips (380 THB++ or approx. AUD $14).

Outside of the hotel Ku De Ta, an approximately 15 minute cab ride away, is the place to be. Be warned though – if you (like many Aussies, myself included) have visited the Ku De Ta in Bali, don’t expect this to be the same. Obviously there’s no beach, instead you’ll find yourself on the 39th floor (the view is pretty special) of Sathorn Square Building, and the cuisine is very much Japanese focused – think super fresh sushi and sashimi, tender meats cooked Japanese-style, tempura and more – there’s no western alternatives here!

There’s also a bar in the adjoining room if you’re after a cocktail, as well as a nighclub, which I am told gets busy from 11pm (we were there on a Saturday, though).

The Hansar Bangkok

Where: 3/250 Soi Mahadlekluang 2 Rajdamri Road, Bangkok
Getting there: a number of airlines fly direct from Sydney to Bangkok. The Hansar offers a limousine airport pick-up service, or alternatively you can arrange your own transport to the hotel.
Website: www.hansarhotels.com

Headline image: Tourism Thailand website. All other images taken by the writer, who kindly received a complimentary night’s stay at the hotel.