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In the market for deals
Ronan O’Connell, The West Australian
November 18, 2013, 10:30 am
watches Bags and luggage are among the variety of products on offer at Silom night market / Picture: Ronan O'Connell
swiss Mechanical movement replica watches best replica watches site Thailand’s monstrous capital city is famed for its shopping. Beyond the glitzy malls of the city’s downtown area lies a raft of outdoor markets offering a staggering range of products.cheap watches Bobae Market – Best for bulk shopping swiss replica watches aaa+ “Buy three or more and it is cheaper,” the vibrant young vendor informs me, seemingly as excited to practise her English as to make a potential sale.cheap watches The $4 price for a pair of men’s shorts was already enticing but, at three for $10, it is too good to ignore.In an authentic Thai neighbourhood between Bangkok’s modern shopping precinct of Pathumwan and the historic area of Rattanakosin Island, Bobae is one of the city’s oldest wholesale markets.Tourists are a rarity here, perhaps deterred by the term “wholesale”. However, while retailers stock their stores with bulk orders from Bobae, the market also provides tremendous value to consumers.Many Bangkok residents recognise the bargains on offer and update their wardrobes by selecting multiple pairs of designer-brand jeans, traditional Thai dresses or Western-style T-shirts. Similar items cost at least twice as much at tourist-laden spots like Khaosan Road or Silom night market.Khaosan Road Market – Best for Kuta-style shopping and people watching You have decided you don’t want a tailored suit, a wooden frog horn or a fake passport. But that won’t halt the offers because you’re in Bangkok’s backpacker sanctuary Khaosan Road.Just 10 minutes by foot from the Grand Palace it is, however, far removed from that icon of Thailand’s reserved royal culture.Khaosan is a traveller’s circus populated by dreadlocked nomads, brazen con men, permanently drunk young Westerners and persistent Nepalese salesmen. Bedraggled budget travellers lurch in and out of its plethora of hostels, threading between stalls which showcase typical holiday bargains – singlets, sarongs, shorts and shoes.Neatly dressed Australian parents on family daytrips from their gleaming downtown hotels haggle with vendors in an effort to knock a dollar off the price of a pair of sunglasses.Khaosan may not be a particularly pleasant place but is an experience and a curious, amusing one at that.It is best enjoyed during the day when there is less madness spilling forth from its many street-side bars.Prices here are lower than at Silom night market, its main competitor for the tourist dollar in central Bangkok.Chatuchak Weekend Market – Best for finding anything you can imagine Colossal. Heaving. Labyrinthine. Any description of Chatuchak requires a string of adjectives.Reputedly the largest weekend market in the world, it features 27 acres of stalls categorised into 27 different numbered sections.Antiques, books, collectables, home decor, paintings, clothes, furniture, ceramics, handicrafts, household appliances, pets and food each have separate sections.To further illustrate the variety on offer, there are distinct areas for different types of fashion. You will find clusters of shops dedicated to Thai designer clothes, recycled garments, traditional Thai attire and imitation brands.Regardless of the numbered sections it is still easy to get lost amid the warren of covered alleys which crisscross the market. This is, however, part of the fun – exploring and stumbling upon unusual stalls you otherwise may have missed.Because it is so popular with locals, Chatuchak’s prices are considerably lower than at the tourist-oriented markets of Silom and Khaosan Road. Many stalls display fixed prices but you can still haggle, particularly if you intend to buy several items.Yaowarat Market – Best for handbags, shoes and gold jewellery The parameters of Yaowarat Market are not easily defined. Amid one of the world’s truly great Chinatowns, stalls gather in the dim alleys which run parallel to neon-draped Yaowarat Road.Makeshift shopfronts spread along these lanes, stretching out in all directions before eventually thinning out somewhere, a long walk away.Products on offer range from homewares to stationery to electronics to handicrafts to fabric to fresh or dried food.But most tourists – and they are thin on the ground – appear more interested in handbags, shoes and traditional Chinese garments. Similar to Bobae Market, Yaowarat offers bulk purchases, some of which are made by retailers who hawk them at the city’s tourist markets at a generous profit.Travellers, too, can secure great bargains. Even for those not particularly interested in shopping, Yaowarat is a fascinating hive of activity which justifies a few hours of exploration.If you are seeking jewellery, the highest concentration of gold traders in Bangkok lies at the market’s edge along Yaowarat Road. Prices are very competitive although the authenticity of the products should be closely scrutinised.Silom Night Market – Best for a strange Bangkok experience Sprawling along the lively financial hub of Silom Road and branching off into several side streets, this is perhaps Bangkok’s most popular tourist market.Unlike Bobae, Chatuchak, Yaowarat or JJ markets, it is patronised almost solely by foreign travellers.It boasts a truly bizarre setting. Brightly lit stalls are lined up along the alleys of the notorious adult entertainment precinct of Patpong.While travellers gander at somewhat convincing imitations of TAG Heuer watches and Louis Vuitton handbags, tenacious touts try to entice them into seedy strip clubs just steps away. Because Silom caters to tourists, its prices are wildly inflated and its traders often unscrupulous. Almost any product for sale can be found far cheaper at Chatuchak market.Hence, Silom is not a recommended destination for shopping. But it is a bizarre “only-in-Bangkok” experience many visitors are keen to tick off their checklist.JJ Furniture Market – Best for kitschy furniture and homewares “That is a real old-style petrol pump,” the bespectacled salesman says, proudly gesturing towards the Shell bowser. The pump is wedged between an olive-green 1970s-style armchair and a black-and-white TV of similar vintage.Even to the untrained observer they appear to be faux-antiques given their pristine condition. But they are charmingly kitsch nonetheless and cater to fans of retro interior design.The products at JJ market may not be authentic but the prices are reasonable and there are some genuinely amusing, eccentric items for sale.FACT FILESilom Night Market unfolds next to Sala Daeng skytrain station from about 6pm each night.Located in Bangkok’s northern suburbs, Chatuchak Weekend Market can be reached easily and cheaply from central Bangkok by the Skytrain or underground. It is best visited during the day.JJ Market is adjacent to Chatuchak Market, adjoining JJ Mall.Bobae Market is not within walking distance of a Skytrain station and is best accessed by taxi.Khaosan Road Market is on the backpacker haven of Khaosan Road on Bangkok’s historic Rattanakosin Island and is most easily reached by taxi.Yaowarat Market in Bangkok’s Chinatown is a 10-minute walk from Hua Lamphong underground station.
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