I am a sucker for cultural marketplaces! I mean who isn’t? Who doesn’t love the sheer rush and bustle of these busy spots where you can snag things that will last a lifetime? I’ve always made it a habit to visit the markets in every place I go to because that is what helps me judge the region’s culture and traditions best.
For instance, the oldest and most known foods of the area are always sold by the street vendors in the markets while sovereigns of all sorts are up for grabs. I love to get myself a sovereign from every marketplace I visit but the Pratunam market was so full of memoirs and precious sovereigns, I couldn’t decide! Located at the intersection of the Ratchaprarop and Phetburi Roads, this market is known to be the cheapest market for all classes of mankind. However, that doesn’t mean that you will only find cheap merchandise here for grabs. Instead, there is items and a place for everyone and anyone to shop regardless of what your budget is. It is a pretty huge market and one of the busiest hubs in Bangkok because of some of the winning buildings and experiences you receive here.
Here, let me take you with me on my trip.
The Baiyoke Sky Hotel
The reason why this market is so popular and everyone can detect from miles away is a very easy one. It is built around the Baiyoke Sky Hotel which is one of the tallest buildings in Thailand. Amounting up to 88 stories it is not something that you can easily miss or not be able to detect. I could see it from more than a mile away. Majorly the reason why I paid a visit to Pratunam Market was that I wanted to check out the sky hotel. See the view from there and know what it is like to be on top of the world. But the shopping experience was one that can’t be replaced by any other.
The market is pure chaos of the loveliest kind. I have never seen so many different nationalities, and so many people of all sizes gather together in one place more than in this market. It makes sense because the shopping experience can’t be matched anywhere. Haggling and bargaining is no stranger to the streets of Pratunam. Everyone does it and if utilized with the proper skill; you can acquire things at dirt cheap prices. I remember there were a pair of handmade leather shoes that the stall owner was demanding 450 baht for and after haggling for a couple of minutes I was able to snag 2 pairs for less than 300 baht.
The variety available in the market is also one that is worth paying attention to. Nothing is missing from here. You can find everything you need here from jewelry to clothing and even watches. However, it is worth mentioning and you should be warned! If you are deciding to purchase designer watches and belts from the roadside stalls and the rundown shops out in the street market, beware of spinoffs. You can’t exactly get a designer belt from the streets of Thailand at a dirt-cheap price. If you are looking to buy something pricey and lavish then you might want to look away from the street shops and instead into the fully furnished and well-lit malls that surround the area.
Yes, in the Pratunam market they are all sorts of stores and shops. From cheap street stalls to ones that sell the most luxurious of items on high stories above the ground.
The City Complex
One of the many lavish and luxurious malls in the place is the City Complex which is a posh mess of 6 floors winding upwards to the sky. Each floor is decked with clothes of all sorts. From expensive numbers to ones that are moderately priced, it is every fashion lovers’ dream. I found myself lost in the hangars and racks of clothes. The never-ending tiled lanes of clothing, however, did bore me after a while and I found myself hungry and lost in this huge mall. Lucky for me on the fifth floor of the City Complex is a food court that serves up nothing special but is adequate and decent if you have a palate for Thai dishes.
The Platinum Mall
I found this mall more inviting and interesting as compared to the City Complex. The collections were bigger and rather than focusing on the volume they were more inclined towards variety. After all, you do want 5 different pieces of clothing and not 5 of the same. Judging by the name alone of this mall, you can see that it focuses more on the experience provided to its buyers. It is 6 stories and on the 6th story, there is erected an 11-story condominium building.
And even so, it still provides reasonable prices on its clothing pieces and a larger food court than the City Complex. One thing that I picked up along when shopping in this mall is that it is best if you buy more than 4 items from the same outlet. In that way, you will get a 20% or 30% discount. And it is not that bad of a deal as every outlet always has what you need. From fashion accessories to child’s wear and much more. Once I picked the right shop, I could easily find all that I needed.
Krung Thong Plaza
Different and unlike the rest, that was what I loved most about this mall. It is exactly opposite the Platinum Mall. The unique thing about the Krung Plaza was how their variety of clothes was not only limited to color, design, and fabric. Instead, it also delves into the plus-size clothing variation that I haven’t seen in the other malls as abundantly. Yes, if by chance you can catch sight of a plus-sized dress it is a miracle! But in Krung Thong Plaza it was different as they were selling the plus size clothing in the same way as the other sizes of clothes. All sizes were equally advertised and that was something quite striking and lovely to me.
Another thing I liked about this plaza was the vintage clothing that they stocked. As most other malls and places like to stock the contemporary and most modern designs, this one had more 1990s fashion which I am quite fond of, to say the least. All the trends and accessories that you thought were expired or no longer in practice are available in this plaza’s snazzy and brightly colored shops.
So, enough of the shopping already, right? Don’t you think? The saying goes ‘shop till you drop’ and I am positive that I didn’t just drop but I passed out. After 2 days of exploring the abundantly variant and exciting malls, I decided to delve into the cuisine side of Pratunam market. I assure you, it didn’t disappoint.
Tomyam Paa Nga
This food spot located on Ratchaprarop Rd was the nicest and most heartwarming thing I witnessed. Not the building! But the concept behind the business. Mainly famous for its Tomyam soup, the restaurant specializes in cooking up 100% halaal food that is safe for Muslims to eat. The owner makes sure that his food is cooked with seafood and green vegetables only. He gives a welcoming spot to Muslims on the whole as well as anyone else looking to try out his delicious soup.
Another Muslim-inspired joint that I favored a lot because of how rare these places are was the Saneeya Thai Muslim Food. Their best top picks by everyone is the white chicken rice, tom yam soup (it was recently introduced) and a selection of other western foods mixed with Thai cuisine. Maybe the most thing that stunned and moved me was that the owner took the liberty of building a prayer room at the back of the restaurant too. Since I was traveling with a Muslim friend it was something that we both greatly appreciated.
The Place 168
Not sure where the name originates from, but all I know is that the food is fantastic. This restaurant delivered the finest and best experience for me and my friends. Lucky for us we were 3 in number and the eatery specializes in whipping up bowls of tom yam soup, eggs, seafood as well as meatballs all brought together in one huge bowl. One bowl of this grub is enough to feed 3 mouths. It is a mix of great flavors all syncing together and bringing forth a revolutionary taste. The prices are reasonable and perfectly fitting according to the generous servings, ambiance and the compliance of the waiters.
Our waiter was a pleasant natured woman who spoke both English and Thai which made it very easy for us to order and leave our reviews to her.