Freelance writer Casey Kittrell visited Bangkok recently. Here
is his report:
here are countless reasons to
go to Bangkok: the temples, the food, the nightlife. But if
shopping is what clients want, then agents will be booking Bangkok
One of the main markets for goods produced in Southeast Asia,
the city receives the best (and most bizarre) of the region.
Clients who have only one chance to experience Bangkok's amazing
shopping culture should visit Chatuchak Market (also known as the
As its name suggests, the market takes place on Saturdays and
Sundays, from about 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. It's one of the largest
markets in the world, occupying about 35 acres, and buying a map of
the market is a good idea. (I recommend Nancy Chandler's map,
widely available in Thailand and on line at www.nancychandler.net.)
Everyone goes to Chatuchak. (At least it seems that way -- the
aisles are narrow and often crowded. Don't be afraid to push.)
There are Thai grandmothers buying oranges and underwear, Western
tourists squirming at the sight of recently butchered chickens,
dreadlocked backpackers examining opium pipes.
Some of the buyers are retailers from the U.S. One woman asked
my opinion of a silk lampshade. I told her I liked it but preferred
a different color. She considered my color choice, then ordered a
few dozen for her boutique in Santa Fe, N.M.
I also saw cutlery identical to that in my kitchen at home,
though it was selling for about one-tenth of what I paid for it at
Pottery Barn. Housewares, in fact, are one of the better buys at
Chatuchak. In addition to my Pottery Barn cutlery, I saw colorful
plates, bowls and platters. Handcarved wooden chopsticks make good,
Antiques are fun to look at, but be wary: Most are fakes.
But the real steal, the best buy, the one thing no one should
leave Thailand without ... is silk. Whether it's clothing,
curtains, pillow covers, scarves or just a few yards of fabric to
be made into something else later, shoppers won't find a comparable
price on this luxurious material anywhere in North America. No
matter what the purchase, be sure to bargain hard.
When it all gets too much, there are plenty of places to grab a
bite to eat or just take a rest.
The best oasis is a small bar called Viva in the clothing
section. Visitors are handed a cool cloth to wipe the sweat and
grime from their body. Then they can sip a Singha (Thailand's best
beer) or a glass of freshly squeezed juice until they've recovered
the strength to resume their shopping.