After nearly 4 months without any breaks from my hospital postings, we finally had a week off in early October for some much-needed rest & relaxation, so my family decided to take a short trip to Bangkok for some budget retail therapy.
|Day 1//Fri||Flight from Singapore to BKK|
|Day 2//Sat||Chatuchak Weekend Market
Siam Square One (& K-pop merch shopping!)
|Day 3//Sun||Platinum Fashion Market
|Day 4//Mon||Terminal 21
Siam Discovery, Siam Paragon, Siam Center
|Day 5//Tue||MBK Mall
Flight from BKK to Singapore
We flew off on the evening of 28th Sept (Friday) via Jetstar, a few hours after I ended my work day at NUH. I had been looking forward to the trip the whole week, despite the fact I was still lowkey dying from a 2-week flu bug and had a terrible cough (which meant I couldn’t eat any Tom Yum in the land of spice </3).
When we arrived at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport, we saw throngs of teenage girls lining the arrival hall; turns out KCON was happening the same weekend I was there, and the JYP group Stray Kids arrived an hour after my flight landed! It’s a shame I didn’t get to see them… 😦
We took the Airport Rail Link from the airport to its terminus at Phaya Thai, which was a 40-minute ride. We then transferred to the BTS Monorail Line to get to our guesthouse, which was just 2 short stops away.
We stayed at Siam Square House for the 4 nights of our trip, which cost us around THB 1,710 per night (around SGD$70) for a triple room. We chose it due to its proximity to Siam Square (the main shopping district in Bangkok) and spacious rooms.
It was a cozy 2-storey guesthouse with around 8 rooms, and we were lucky enough to get the unit right above the reception. Their hospitality was by far the best I’ve ever experienced, and the room was spotlessly clean, with the added bonus of a balcony that overlooked the street (a boutique hotel was just across the road from our room).
Some 4-star hotels like the Ibis and Mercure were nearby and going for a higher nightly rate, but their rooms were half the size of Siam Square House’s. I’m really glad we chose this cozy guesthouse instead, because it felt like a quiet resort where we could unwind after a hectic day of travelling (I was dead beat by the time we arrived on Friday night).
Chatuchak Weekend Market
Nearest BTS Station: Mo Chit
The next morning, we headed to Chatuchak Weekend Market. It was really hot and humid, so be sure to dress lightly and stay hydrated so you can shop till you drop!
The array of food stalls in Chatuchak was mind-blowing, with anything from traditional Thai food, to hipster cafes, Italian food, mochi and Chinese roast pork.
The market itself is sprawling, but the stores are generally clustered according to the merchandise they’re selling, so be sure to get a map before embarking on your trawl through the thousands of stalls. If you’re not methodical about how you explore Chatuchak, you might miss out some stalls and lose out on a great bargain!
Apart from the normal stores selling clothes, sportswear, homeware and touristy souvenirs, there are also some stores selling quirky (or gnarly) souvenirs like these insect keychains.
On one side of the market was a massive sheltered dining area lined with street food stalls and drink carts, perfect if you’re looking for a nice lunch and a respite from the insane heat.
We spent around 4 hours exploring the market before we decided to head to a proper mall to cool off.
Nearest BTS Station: Siam
Siam Square is the central shopping district in Bangkok, and is where most hotels/guesthouses are located. There is a cluster of malls in the area, including Siam Square One, MBK, Siam Discovery, Siam Paragon & Siam Center.
MBK: For budget shoppers and those looking for souvenirs or snacks to bring back, MBK is the mall to visit. There’s 5 floors of stores selling clothes, designer bag dupes, gimmicky souvenirs and cheap tech devices. Massage parlours are scattered throughout the mall in case you want to rest your feet
and use some free wifi in between shopping. There are also many shops selling Thai snacks at varying price points, but I strongly recommend a store (I didn’t take note of its name) on the 5th floor (near the escalator), as they have the best snacks – cuttlefish, seaweed, pork crisps and mango pocky – at cheap prices.
Siam Square One: This mall has a lot of eateries and dessert stores, as well as some small clothing stores. If you’re a LINE fan, there’s LINE VILLAGE, a paid attraction where you can take pictures with your favourite LINE characters, as well as a store selling
Siam Center: Siam Center/Discovery/Paragon are a family of 3 malls, each catering to a different budget level. Siam Center has the most wallet-friendly stores, followed by Discovery, and then Paragon. There were affordable brands like Etude House, Adidas, Under Armour, etc. and a loooot of food & dessert options, including a food court on the top floor.
Siam Discovery: This is a modern department store with a good variety of clothing brands (out of my budget, but generally still affordable in the high street price range). The upper floors were my favourites, as they sold creative interior design fixtures (I spent a good hour buying quirky clocks & home accessories at the ROOM Concept Store) and cute Japanese products (everything from stationery, to plushies to tech products) at the lifestyle store LoFT. It even houses a Madam Tussads!
Siam Paragon: With 6 floors of luxury brands, entertainment & food options, this mall is probably good for window shopping and not much more…unless you’re a crazy rich asian (which I am unfortunately not). There’s a cinema and the SEA Life Bangkok Ocean World aquarium, as well as a whole bunch of restaurants in the basement, so you’ll be spoiled for choice for dining options there!
You can get discounted tickets for the SEA Life Bangkok Ocean World here; it’s cheaper to buy them online than at the aquarium itself! If you want a ticket for both Madam Tussads and the aquarium (both attractions are situated in 2 fancy malls just a 5-minute walk apart!), you can get discounted combo tickets from Trazy here!
Food highlights in Siam Square 🐷
Platinum Fashion Market
Nearest BTS Station: Chit Lom
This is a wholesale (read: cheap) clothing complex, with hundreds of stores spread over 5 floors. Most stores offer really great bargains and affordable quality clothing & accessories. If you’re into Korean fashion or work wear, this is the place to restock your wardrobe! I personally didn’t buy many pieces here,
Nearest BTS Station: Chit Lom
This brand new mall is HUGGGGEEEE. And there happens to be an ice-skating rink and a 4D cinema located within the sprawling premises of Central World. This mall is pretty good for window shopping and some retail therapy, with the typical array of departmental and chain stores.
TBH Central World wasn’t particularly exciting for us, since Singapore is jam-packed with similar malls with the same chains (H&M, Uniqlo, Forever 21, the usual sports brands), and we mostly walked around aimlessly and enjoyed the spaciousness of the mall.
Nearest BTS Station: Asok
This is a pretty cool travel-themed mall, with each floor having its own country theme. The top two floors were San Franciso-themed and comprised restaurants, as well as an extremely affordable food court! Fun fact: the owner of the mall doesn’t collect rent from the food court tenants, so the savings are passed on to consumers, i.e CHEAP FOOD FOR US! 🙂
The other floors had mostly boutiques and accessory stores, so if you’re looking for more unique clothing, this might be the mall for you! I didn’t buy any clothes from Terminal 21 as they were out of my ideal price range and the styles weren’t quite as trendy as those I found in Platinum Fashion Market.
Bonus: K-pop merch in Bangkok
Being the die-hard K-pop fan I am, I just had to go searching for some merch in Bangkok. I read about this shop called Basket that was located in Siam Square, but we were having a hard time locating it, as it was in a small alley a few lanes away from Siam Square One and I didn’t have any wifi (I chose not to buy a roaming package since this trip was short).
Basket sold predominantly BTS, GOT7, EXO and Blackpink merchandise (posters, keychains, banners, fans, stationery) at really reasonable prices. They sold fake BT21 merch, and I bought a bunch of items for myself and my fellow ARMY friends back home. It’s worth dropping by if you’re into the more popular groups!
We kinda ran out of places to shop at by the last day of our trip, and I admit that we definitely could have cut short our trip by 1 day, so we just used up our remaining money buying snacks at MBK, and headed to the airport early to wait for our night flight (10.20pm!) back home.
Bangkok feels like a city that’s struggling to find a balance between a vibrant metropolis and a developing town, but ultimately, the warm hearts of the Thai people are what give the city its soul.
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If you’re interested in exploring my blog, click here for an index of all the posts I’ve ever written (travel, musings, doctoring), or check out my most read series below:
- the Chasing Dreams series: a multi-part series chronicling my thoughts, dreams & changing ideals over the years (since 2018), including burnout, quitting the rat race, migration and trying to find my path in life
- the (not-so-definitive) guide to doctoring: Getting into Med School & FAQs | Surviving your Clinical Years | MBBS Tips | Life as a M1 // M2 // M3 // M4 // M5 during COVID // Life as a Doctor (monthly series) | Chasing Careers series