Chatuchak Weekend Market
Known as JJ, this is the largest market in Thailand, sprawling across more than thirty acres and featuring vendors selling everything from silk, crafts and orchids to pythons, old silver and massive Buddhas. It makes substantial markets, like the Puces de Saint-Ouen in Paris, feel like organized, quaint shopping experiences, and buyers should come prepared for heat, crowds, noise and tiny alleyways overflowing with goods. The stands are organized in sections, and the best vendors are found deep in the fray, so don’t get distracted by the outer stalls, those selling cheap mementos. The clock tower near JJ’s center is a good place to meet. Indagare members can contact the Bookings Team to arrange for a shopping guide.
If you see something you love, bargain and buy it immediately. Bring a hat and water, but don’t drink too much, as toilets are not easily found. For a break, head to Doi Tung, an air-conditioned café (Thailand’s answer to Starbucks) located near Gate 1. A fabulous place for an authentic lunch is De Thong Dee, in the home décor section.
Indagare Tip: Nancy Chandler’s Bangkok map, for sale in most hotels, includes an excellent guide to JJ; if you’re going without a (human) guide, it’s your best bet for not getting lost and for finding the goods you want other than hiring a guide to accompany you.
Lotus Arts de Vivre
Run by the Van Bueren family, this high-end company, which has been called the Faberge or Bulgari of Thailand, carries jewelry, home items and accessories; its products can be found in the Mandarin Oriental and in the Anantara arcade. Expect expert craftsmanship, top materials and designs, and high prices. Many pieces are one-of-a-kind and collectors from all over the world have made this the cult luxury brand of Thailand.
Located right by the river, this four-story antiques, crafts and jewelry emporium is on every first-time shopper’s Bangkok list. It’s co-owned by the Mandarin Oriental, so expect prices to be high.Note that most of the river hotels, including the Mandarin Oriental, the Peninsula and the Shangri-La, offer free boat shuttle service to River City.Riverboat stop: Si Phaya; Sky Train stop: Saphan Taksin (there is a free shuttle service to River City)