I’m a big shopper of independent designers’ products, which is why I’ve always shopped at Idea Market in Bangkok, Thailand. Idea Market is a small underground shopping mall that’s part of Khampaeng Phet’s subway station tunnel system and, yes, it’s literally ‘underground’, which is why some people still don’t know about it. Packed with small boutiques selling trendy independent Thai designer fashion including clothing, shoes, bags, jewelry and more, it’s a wonderful place to shop for unique items. Recently, Idea Market was renovated and, now, it’s absolutely gorgeous too.
Where is Idea Market in Bangkok? – Head to the Khampaeng Phet MRT underground train station, right in the middle of the massive Chatuchak Weekend Market. Go down the escalator and, after you walk through the electronic security gate and into the subway, you’ll see ‘Idea Market’ on your left hand side. Down a small tunnel, it opens out into a long shopping street, lined with cute and trendy boutiques on either side and an exceptionally large and sweet cafe.
Shops at Idea Market – Idea Market has always been a great place to buy unique, often hand-made items from some of Bangkok’s independent designers. Since the recent renovation though, it’s now also a beautiful place to shop, with benches laid down the middle, where you can sit and people watch and, on both sides, brightly-painted boutique after boutique selling beautiful, yet inexpensive, designer clothing, shoes, bags, beauty products, jewelry, watches and more.
Idea Market has around 30 designer boutiques, with a couple of small market-style stalls at the top of the arcade selling bags and jewelry. Of course, look at every shop as they’re all unique, but these shops are my favorites:
7/1 Studio – A small shop selling clothing (t shirts, pants, skirts etc) as well as a nice selection of bags. Styles are clean and simple and prices are cheap, with t shirts starting as low as 130 baht ($4.10). There’s also a boutique next to it (see photo in middle of this page) that sells shoes and bags, and particularly large purses (handbags) which are definitely my style.
TEED – TEED sells stacks of brightly, colored t shirts for both men and women. Young styles, particularly great for teens, skateboarders, surfers etc., their designs are lots of fun and, with a t shirt for only 150 baht ($4.10), you can buy several.
Hypnotique is known for its sweet shorts, dressy shirts, bags and, at the moment, super stylish straw hats. Particularly popular with teenagers and young 20-something girls.
AnyaDharu is a lovely Indian-flavored-design shop selling candles, incense sticks, bath and body products, perfumes, fragrances, natural oils and teas. They have several locations in Bangkok and you’ll know them by their floor-to-ceiling shelves in dark wood, packed to the gills with expensive-looking (but quite inexpensive) goodies and the divine smell emanating from its dark interior. If you’re looking for a special gift, start here, as they sell the loveliest items.
Walk further down the shopping street and you’ll see a whole slew of stores selling skirts, tops, shoes, pants, shawls, Thai silk – trendy and fashionable, yet beautifully made.
On my last trip to Idea Market, along with other purchases I fell in love with two skirts I just had to have. Both from the same seller, they’re handmade patchwork skirts made from beautiful cotton fabrics, one short and one long, The short skirt was on sale for 150 baht ($4.10) and the ankle-length version only 250 baht ($7.10). I also purchased a large shoulder bag, made from a vibrantly colored and beautiful designed rice sack (yes, the sack rice comes in in Thailand).
For a unique shopping experience, you can’t beat Idea Market at Khampaeng Phet’s underground train station. Just five hundred baht ($16) will net you several unique gift items family and friends back home will love and, once you’ve finished shopping, don’t forget to grab a coffee at the huge cafe at the entrance to the shopping street. It’s cheap, delicious and a great place to watch the super cool and trendy walk by.