Thonburi, Thailand is an awesome place to do some cheap shopping for tourists and residents of Bangkok alike. Located just across the river from Bangkok and just a 5 baht (19 cents) boat ride away, if you’re looking for cheap markets, authentic floating markets, and dirt cheap shopping malls not on the usual beaten tourist track, then a shopping trip to Thonburi is a must.
Taling Chan Floating Market – One of the best known authentic Thai floating markets (not the ones set up for tourists) is the Taling Chan Floating Market in Thonburi. Held every weekend, local vendors and small farmers come from surrounding areas and set up typical street-style stalls and floating stalls on boats, and proceed to sell their wares. You can buy everything from clothing to shoes, accessories, Thai handicrafts, fruit, vegetables and some of the best take-home prepared food in Thonburi.
Don’t miss eating lunch here too. Choose a few dishes from various food stalls and sit at one of the tables set up for this. You’ll find main meals as cheap as 20 baht (75 cents) and desserts for 10 baht (33 cents). Add a traditional Thai iced tea and you’ve got the makings of a full, and very tasty, meal for less than $1.75.
You can get to Taling Chan Floating Market by taking the number 79 bus at one of the bus stops near Siam Square, or by hopping in a taxi. If you like to be an early bird, the market starts at 7am. It ends about 5pm.
Bang Ramat Market – If an absolutely authentic Thai market is your goal, with narry a tourist to be seen, then Bang Ramat Market in Thonburi is a must visit shopping venue. It opens in the late afternoon and runs through the evening, like a traditional night market, but with dirt cheap prices you’ll never see at many night markets — as they’re targeted towards tourists.
At Bang Ramat Market, look for cheap clothing and acessories, purses, wallets, leather belts, CDs and DVDs, some Thai handicrafts, household items and, of course, thousands of Thai snacks. Don’t miss eating at one, or more, of the many food stalls too.
Easiest way to get to Bang Ramat Market is by bus from the Southern Bus Terminal on Borom Ratchani Road. From here, you can take a taxi or motorcyle taxi along Phutthamonthon Sai 1 Road for about 1 1/2 kilometers, and you’ll see the Bang Ramat Market from the corner of Bang Ramat Road.
Central Pinklao – Part of the massive Central department store chain, Central Pinklao is the biggest shopping mall in Thonburi. With seven floors stuffed with shops, restaurants, cafes and, of course, a large Central department store, as well as a multi-screen movie theater, Central Pinklao is the place most Thais in the neighborhood shop. But, just because it’s a nice shopping mall, don’t expect everything to be expensive here. It’s not.
Shop at Marks and Spencer for imported British fashion (check out their regular sales, as M&S’ normal prices are far too expensive), wander around PowerBuy for bargains on electronics and, of course, eat lunch or dinner at the food court – delicious food, cheap prices. Check out Central Department store for bargains too. They often have sales with prices slashed up to more than 60%.
Get your photographs taken at one of the mini photo booths or at a photo studio in the mall. It’s all the rage in Asia and, with all the additional bells and whistles you get on Thai photographs (cute cartoons, hearts, flowers etc), you’ll have something unique to take home and show your friends.
After an afternoon of shopping, why not take in a movie at Central Pinklao’s world-class movie theater? There’s even a VIP movie theater where, for an extra charge, you’ll be in the most comfort you’ve ever experienced in any movie theater anywhere.
To get to Central Pinklao, either take a taxi or jump on a bus. Bus numbers to look for include 28, 30, 40, 57, 123, 124, 127, 146, and 149.