Strolling Around Siam : Bangkok’s Shopping Haven
Bangkok is synonymous with shopping and Siam is one of the most intense and best shopping mecca in Bangkok where you’ll find a series of shopping malls which caters to different types of taste and budget from the opulent masses to the mid-range and the rather ordinary. These malls are accessible by buses and the Skytrain (BTS).
One fine morning, I took a bus from KSR to Siam. The bus dropped most of the passengers at Siam Center, so I went along with the crowd. The building is interconnected both to Siam Discovery on its left and Siam Paragon on its right. I didn’t go inside the center mall first but instead, head off to Siam Paragon to start my window shopping. hehe
Established in late 2005, Siam Paragon is one of the high-end malls in Bangkok. Before strolling inside, I had to spare some time for a precious photo-op first along with other foreigners outside this mall! It would’ve been better though if I was able to visit them at night when the malls are at their full glory with their glowing lights and all. I was amazed that although this establishment is meant to cater to the upper class, it is pretty crowded, unlike in upscale malls in the Philippines.
Upon entering this stylishly elegant mall I was greeted by cutesy Christmas decor just right off the fancy elevator and outlets of global designers. And since it’s the King’s birthday, there’s another booth where you can write a message to him. Along with other Thais, I greeted the Thai King in Filipino language.
I started my window shopping at the front gate, and to my amazement, all I can see are high-end brands everywhere! Apparently, I got tired of torturing myself with all the glitters of the luxury brands that I can’t afford.
So I decided to look for the Ocean World, Siam Paragon houses this largest Aquarium in South East Asia at the basement just right after the food court. Siam Ocean World takes you through seven different environments starting with the strangely titled ‘Weird and Wonderful’, the ‘Open Ocean’, ‘Deep Reef’, ‘Rain forest’, ‘Rocky Shore’, ‘Living Ocean’, and ‘Sea Jellies’. The entrance fee though is pretty expensive 850B for adults! There are other activities too like Dive w/ the Sharks (5,300-6,600B depending on diving experience), Ocean walker (2000B),Glass Bottom Boat (150B), Sanyo 4DX-Venture (250B), Back of House Tour (200B), & Shark Encounter (500B). I was taken aback by the rate, and being an ex-vegetarian, I don’t like to go to aquariums and zoos, as humanly as possible. Yes, it’s definitely interesting and adventurous but I’d rather see them in their natural environment except of course to swim with the sharks in the vast sea! But I’ll probably visit the Manila Ocean Park pretty soon which is way cheaper.
After my encounter with the elegant Siam Paragon, I walked back to Siam Center. This mid-range mall has been there before all others, established since 1976, thus one of the oldest known shopping malls in Bangkok. It consists of 4 floors and over the years has continued to get patronage from the teenagers and the young. It simply reminds me of those ordinary malls back home, but I do like it’s artsy side, from the walls to the elevators, where one can see a hint of art.
Large range of shops from apparel by homegrown designers , shoes, mobiles and other gadgets, surf & skate equipment, jewelry, Internet cafe, restaurants,cafe, cosmetic salons, dominate Siam center mall however you can’t find a cinema here. Indeed, it’s a great spot for observing the spending and social habits of the young mall-addicts. I didn’t get to buy anything special though as I still find it more expensive (I always convert baht to peso when I check the price) compared to shopping in the Philippines.
Adjoining Siam Center is another old establishment, Siam Discovery which caters to the young and young-at-heart and high-end to mid-range classes. One can find a range of shops here by both the local designers and posh European brands.
Walking forward, I saw the MBK (Mah Boon Krong) near the National Stadium , and is said to be Bangkok’s most legendary shopping mall, popular with both tourists and locals because of its bargain prices and faux designer brands.
There’s a lot of more of the shopping malls that I have missed like the Central World Plaza which I have passed by but I just didn’t take a photo of it as I was unaware that it’s the largest mall in South-East Asia, and I guess blame it partly to my debility, I was dead tired and I just wanna see the famous Jim Thompson’s house near the National Stadium.
Another important building that is worthy of attention is the Bangkok Art and Culture Center located at the Pathumwan Junction, opposite MBK and the Siam Discovery Center. The 3rd floor entrance is connected to the BTS train (the National Stadium Station), connecting bridge. It has an impressive minimalist architecture and the center is designed as an educational art space and magnet for inspiration and is open to the emerging Thai artist to market their work.
After a few blocks, I finally saw a signage —> this way to Jim Thompson’s House. Yay! Jim Thompson is an American businessman who helped revitalize the Thai silk and textile industry in the 1950s and 1960s. A former U.S. military intelligence officer who once worked for the Office of Strategic Services, Thompson mysteriously disappeared while going for a walk in 1967, in the Cameron Highlands of Malaysia. Many hypotheses have been put forward to explain his disappearance, but what actually happened to him remains a mystery.
Since his disappearance in 1967, little has changed in the home that was the ‘talk of the town’ and the ‘city’s most celebrated social center’. Even today, the charming Thai style house continues to be a key stop for visitors to Bangkok. The house consists of a complex of six traditional Thai-style houses, teak structures that were purchased from several owners and brought to the present location from various parts of Thailand. Construction of the Jim Thompson Thai House was completed in 1959. (excerpt from its official website)
Surprisingly, this part of Siam is a big contrast to the bustling & noisy city. I felt fresh cool air on my face while walking in the peaceful neighborhood, surrounded by townhouses and condominiums. I’m guessing this area is home to the affluent Thais and Expats. The color red dominates this famous houses, one has to pay 100B for an entrance fee which goes to the Bangkok School for the Blind. I noticed most visitors there are old American tourists which is not surprising at all since Jim is an American. There’s a café and souvenir shop available. The actual Thai house itself is enveloped in a beautifully landscaped garden and a guided tour is a must (see details below this post). I must say this is another must-see in Siam for another cultural enlightenment and definitely a refreshing escape from the bustling city.
So would I recommend visiting Siam for first time tourists in Bangkok!? Definitely, yes! Besides, what is Bangkok without shopping!? Watch out once I get to explore the Thai flea markets!
Open: 10:00 – 22:00
Location: Next to Siam Centre, Pathumwan
Shopping Tip: For 5% discount on most purchases, you can apply for a Tourist Discount Card at the information desk on the ground level.
B1-B2 Floor, Siam Paragon, 991 Rama 1 Road, Pathumwan, Bangkok 10330 Thailand
Telephone : +66 2687 2000
Opening Hours: 9:00 – 21:00
Opening Hours: 10:00 – 22:00
Location: Siam, Pathumwan
*MBK (Mah Boon Krong) Shopping Center*
Open: 11:00 – 22:00
Location: Phayathai Road, Pathumwan
BTS: National Stadium
*Bangkok Arts & Culture Center*
Buses: 15, 16, 21, 25, 29, 34, 36, 40, 47, 48, 50, 54, 73, 79, 93, 141, 159, 204, air-con 508, air-con 529.
BTS: National Stadium
10 a.m. – 9 p.m. (closed Mondays)
Free entry to exhibitions, except for special events. Charges to concerts and plays will vary.
Bangkok Art and Culture Centre
939 Rama 1 Road
Tel. 02 214 6630-8
Fax 02 214 6639
*Jim Thompson’s Thai House*
The Jim Thompson House is located on Soi Kasemsan (2) Song, opposite the National Stadium on Rama I Rd.
Opening Hours : 09:00 to 17:00 everyday with the last Guided Tour at 17:00*
Getting to the Jim Thompson House : Located in the center of Bangkok, it is conveniently reached by car, taxi,tuk-tuk, or the Sky Train (Bangkok Transit System).
Admission : Adult 100 baht; Students 50 baht
* Compulsory guided tours around the house.
Jim Thompson House
6 Soi Kasemsan 2, Rama 1 Road, Bangkok
Tel: (662) 216-7368 Fax: (662) 612-3744
Viewed 24856 times by 11276 viewers