Friday, September 28, 2012

The Bangkok Shopping Saga: Me vs. The Bangkok Markets

Bangkok is shopping heaven.

I’ve heard and read about this 10 million times when I was doing my Indochina research.
I bought 20kg baggage allowance in anticipation of this shopping escapade.  

When I was trying to save, I started an expense journal. I listed all the expenses each day and analyzed where my money went. I stopped listing when my daily expense was manageable, and even lower than what I was spending during college.

Earlier this year, I put my Starbucks Planner into use and listed all my outfit. I purged my closet.I was inspired by fashion blogs to monitor my daily outfits. It allowed me to realize that I can survive for three months without repeating an outfit. I had THAT much clothes *sheepish grin* . It was excessive. I skipped buying dresses and lessened my abubot-buying escapades. I didn’t decrease nor did I spend my shopping budget during those months. So I had some shopping budget for BKK.

But I was in Bangkok. So those finance and shopping limits need to me relaxed a bit.

Chatuchak Weekend Market

We navigated our way to BTS Mo Chit station. The pack of people is more accurate than the exit map. You can just follow where everyone else is going. The locals are armed with an empty wheeled luggage – ah, a sign that they are experts on these weekend shopping escapades.

Crazy hot weather again.

Be sure to snap a picture of that map. Know how to read it.

I wanted to buy dresses, and Sarah wanted to buy some malong pants. We found ourselves swimming in a sea of stalls. Where everything is kinda "same same, but different". If you plan to look around (and mind you, there's a lot to look at), take note of the stall number of the merchant. Chatuchak is a crazy version of our local 168 mall. 

Choosing sunglasses
Two hours of going round and round. We still have plenty of Baht on hand. We haven't been successful in shopping here. There's just too much ground to cover and there are too many choices. OVERWHELMING. Shopping is not fun when this is the case. It became work. I was in a cranky mood already, and the rain added to my rising temper. 

We decided to just head back to our hostel, then shop around Patpong at night.  
Me vs. the Chatuchak Market, the Market wins.

Patpong Night Markets
Our hostel is located in Silom area, 2 minutes away from the Patpong Night Market. This is actually the "fun" area. The dialogues:

Me (with a vaguely interested face): How much? (Just asking, not yet buying)
Vendor: 500 Baht
*I walk away*
Vendor shouts: Okay 400? 300? Okay 200! I give you 200!
*Still walking away, grinning now*
Bangkok, kung saan ang nagtitinda ang tumatawad. Kakaiba!

We had a lot of these episodes in Patpong. We try to remember all of the starting price and the "shouting-price-of-the-vendor-as-we-walk-away" price. Sarah lists this down in her notebook, and we  would set a "closing price" for each item. Very methodological.

Me (with a vaguely interested face): How much? (for a sleeveless beach-type dress)
Vendor: 500 Baht.
Me: Can I get a discount?
Vendor: (hands me the calculator) How much do want?
Me: *Types in the calculator* 150 (The dress seems around Php 225)
Vendor: Please give me more.
Me: *types in 160*
Vendor: More please.
*I start to walk away*
Vendor: *Calls back* Okay okay! Your price!
*I walk back to pay*

The walk away approach really works!

During day:

Empty during the day
At night:

A market during the night


I like MBK the most because it is a mall. Airconditioning! Yeahbah! Also, most stalls post the last price of the item. No need to go through the headache of haggling. However, some shops do not allow the fitting of the items. I mostly bought the food here like the tamarind candies and pork floss. They offer tax refunds if you shop in some accredited shops.

Lalai Sap Market
Just two corners from our place.
Also bought food here. 
I bought a lot at this point, so I had to buy one of those check-in-bags-with zipper.

Negotiated prices of Thai goods and souvenirs (all prices in BHT)

First price
Negotiated Price
Check if it comes with a box with the cufflinks You can get it without the box and cufflinks for 80. They have a pretty nice selection of ties so this is a good gift option. Got my dad one piece (kuripot no?)
Bangkok Souvenir Shirts
“Tapat na” price. Black or white. Cotton. Also a good buy as a souvenir.

These are really good buys. I actually saw some of these bags sold in Davao
500-850 (!!!)
150-250. Depends if it is long, or if it has sleeves, the patterns
Sometimes you can fit this, sometimes you can’t. Depends
Tamarind packs/bottles

35 or 3 for 100
The food’s prices are usually non negotiable.
Skippy (food)

100-150 per small pack.

300 for the huge pack
Free taste!

Some tips to conquer shopping in Bangkok:

  • Get a good night’s sleep before shopping day.
  • Carry more than enough Baht. You might regret it if you don't.
  • Put "price stops". Spend within your limits. Stick to your budget.
  • Stay hydrated. Carry a water bottle. 
  • Take a picture of the map. Learn how to read it.
  • Haggle. I am not good at this. This is not a fun thing for me. But if you can haggle well, then this will be a fun experience for you.


  1. Plenty of rest, yes.

    Also, all-weather-ready clothes? And umbrella. Para hindi mabwiset sa weather.

    And a tote bag, mebbe.

    Gumaling ka naman mag-haggle, a :D

  2. nice haggling. nagagawa ko din minsan ung walkaway style sa divisoria and some souvenir shops before sa baguio. pero unlike sa pilipinas, uber laki ng tawaran dito sa bkk! more than 50% talaga. ibig sabihin may kita pa sila dun sa naitawad. excited nako, will be there on dec. thanks for the tip :)

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