Best fashion shopping in Bangkok
Pratunam Market (next door to Pratunam Mall) is the best place to experience Bangkok shopping if you want to buy clothes (pricewise, anyway). You can find at 831 Phetchaburi Rd, on the corner of Phetchaburi Road and Ratchaprop Road in Bangkok’s crazy shopping district, Ratchathewi. As well as clothes, Pratunam district has a fine range of the usual souvenirs, handicrafts, watches, etc.
Getting to Pratunam on the BTS Skytrain
The BTS Skytrain (also known as the Bangkok metro) is one of the easiest ways to get to Pratunam Market and Pratunam Mall. No matter where you start your journey to Pratunam, your first goal is to get yourself onto the BTS Skytrain Sukhumvit Line – see our guide to the BTS Skytrain and MRT Line for connection details.
Once you’re on the BTS Skytrain, your goal is to get off at Ratchathewi BTS station. This station is located about 15 minutes walk south of Pratunam Market. Alternatively, you could take the BTS Skytrain to Phaya Thai BTS station and connect onto the Airport Rail Link (ARL), but you need to buy a new ticket. You would get off the ARL at Victory Monument to the north of Pratunam district.
Understanding the rules in Pratunam district
You need to know that Pratunam has some rules that might not be immediately obvious, even if you have previous experience with Bangkok shopping. Like you can’t try the clothes on, so you need to size them against your body before buying them (my wife usually does that for me and she’s very good at it). There are no refunds if you make the wrong choice, so choose wisely. Also most of the brand name clothing, bags, etc in Pratunam are fake so don’t delude yourself otherwise.
But all that aside, you’re talking about an area with around 4000 stores and market stalls competing for your business, so the pricing is very competitive if you’re prepared to bargain (but check first because many of the shops here are fixed or marked prices, with volume discounts). Just look around you at how many Thais are trying to do the same – it’s usually a very good sign (like Chinese customers in a Chinese restaurant).
Clothing is what Pratunam district is all about. Up towards the Phetchaburi Road end you’ll find formal and evening wear designs with lots of glitz and glam. You’re also like to realise when you get home that you were looking at the next season’s hottest clothing designs, so don’t be afraid to buy up big. Because Pratunam district is a wholesale market, the more you buy from one shop or stall, the better prices you’ll get. The minimum to start getting wholesale discount is usually three or more items.
Getting the best price at Pratunam Market
So how good are the prices in Pratunam district? We’ve never bothered to do the math because they always look good to us, but another blogger (Bangkokbois) compared the price of a popular Japanese t-shirt brand (Sure) and came up with a nice comparison against global and general Bangkok shopping. In Japan, the shirt sells for around $40. In Central World near Pratunam they sell for around $20. At the markets in Khao San Road you get haggle them down to about $15. There’s an outlet shop on Phetchaburi Rd just outside the market that sells them for $6. Inside Pratunam Market you can get the same shirt (although it may be a second) for around $3.
Some of the stores in Pratunam district will help you to re-size your purchases – they have tailors in the shop or nearby – but don’t be fooled that the size on the label bears any known resemblance to sizes of clothing you’re familiar with at home. Sometimes larger sizes also mean higher prices too because they mean more material.
Pratunam Market is really a wholesale market, so it’s a popular place for foreigners to source bulk goods at unbelievingly rock bottom rates to sell back home in their boutique stores and market stalls. But the stall holders in Pratunam will mostly sell individual items too, often at close to wholesale prices if you’re prepared to haggle.
Next door is the huge Pratunam Mall, a fashion centre and icon of Bangkok shopping aimed at young Thai fashionistas who want to buy cheap clothing imported from China. No doubt your kids will love the place.
Pratunam Mall has everything from t-shirts to three piece suits, shorts to evening wear, fancy duds to fancy dress outfits. Something for everyone. Also on offer are fake watches and bags, pirate movies and music, local crafts and souvenirs, and some delicious snack foods.
Pratunam Mall is open daily from 10 AM to 9 PM. Pratunam Market is open 24 hours a day (best time to go is between 11 AM and 8 PM). If you find yourself getting hungry while you’re shopping, just wander out onto Phetchaburi Rd and you’ll find all kinds of street food for sale.