Friday, December 24, 2010

Pier Shopping in Bangkok

For a fun-filled day of adventurous shopping ‘off the beaten track’, do what Bangkok’s hordes of dek naew (trendy youths) do and head to one of the city’s vibrant piers for cool picks you’ll never find in the malls. Here is a list of some top spots to help you get started:
Where: Get off the express boat at Si Phraya Pier (N3) and take a cross-river ferry.
Who: Thonburi residents picking up bargain outfits on the way home.
When: Daily from 10am-9:30pm, but go from 2pm onwards.
What: Donman Shoe has pairs of shoes made from genuine leather and affordably priced at Bht 150-450. Can’t find your size? Place your order and come back a day later to pick up. Bung Bag Shop is a vintage bag Mecca where indie kids rummage through hundreds of adorable pieces. Ranging from faux-retro to authentic luxe brand names, their pieces are just as eclectic: Bht 400-4,500. Sakda Karnwaen is the home of nerdy eyewear. You don’t need to drop big bucks here, Bht 190-250 will suffice. Since it’s also a proper optical shop, you can get your lenses done here too.
Where: Get off at Wanglang Pier and take a ferry or get off at Ta Chang Pier and walk.
Who: Oldies and monks go for amulets while Thammasat and Silapakorn university kids grab bohemian threads and have their fortune told.
When: The amulet market is open from around 9am-7pm but for the other stuff, it’s better to head there after the uni kids finish class, from 3-6pm.
What: Leum Mai Long is cramped with vintage T-shirts sporting old skool Thai singers and typography. Price are between Bht 150-350. @Means is a one-stop shot for girls on a tight budget (Bht 200-450) and schedule. With cute shoes, bags and even cosmetics, the shop can have your new look sorted within minutes. Nong is where you come for the newest CD singles from Thai and international artists. Rodsanyom is located out in the open, right on the street, it has two parts: glasses and women’s clothing. The clothes (Bht 390-790) are self-designed and handmade – mostly brand copies with a pattern or detail added for good measure. The other stall sells fashionable glasses and sunglasses (Bht 199-290); just make sure you change the lenses.
Where: Get off at Wanglang Pier.
Who: Dek naew dig up vintage gems hidden in piles of old junk while neighbouring hospital employees fill their tummies.
When: Open 10am-6pm, but avoid noon-1pm when the market is packed with lunching office workers.
What: 59/1 selld ready-to-wear gear like what’s on sale in Siam Square, only 30% cheaper. Starting at around Bht 290 for a dress and Bht 300 for a pair of high heels the place is hard to fault. Ma Ha Eng nearby has handmade earrings, hair pins and necklaces studded with glittering crystals. Prices vary, depending on how bling it is, but nothing exceeds Bht 280. So Pah is a unisex fashion shop in Wanglang Plaza. Shirts (Bht 199-590) are relatively colourful and neatly cut but the trendy designs mean they become ‘last season’ quite fast. Almost Famous, in the same plaza, is a family-run business with another outlet at Chatuchuk Market. The blouses are self-designed and handmade, but the T-shirts are from elsewhere, so make sure to check the tag. Shirts start at Bht 290, and dresses go for Bht 700. If you’re not feeling too hot, you can also grab a pair of denim jeans for Bht 690.
Where: Get off at Thewet Pier.
Who: Garden lovers go for their horticultural and floral needs.
When: The market is open 6:30am-6:30pm but it’s recommend you go between 10am-3pm to avoid the jams caused by parents dropping their little darlings off at one of five nearby schools.
What: Pis Prom is packed to the rafters with cactus and bonsai in a wide range of types and sizes. Prices start from as low as Bht 20 but can rise to more than Bht 10,000 if the owner needs to import a plant from Japan to meet your specific needs. She even flies there herself to pick out the best ones! Chor Prayong has super friendly vendors and very fresh offerings. Check out the bright yellow marigolds (Bht 20 each) and the large pots of gypsy flowers (Bht 180). Napaporn, located at the mouth of the street, is where you get the hardcore gardening stuff, from trowels and trellises to fertilizers; all at reasonable prices.
Where: Get off at Phra Athit if you arrive via a slow boat or orange-flag boat. Get off at Phra Pinklao Pier if you’ve taken a yellow- or green-flag boat, then take a ferry.
Who: Indie kids meet backpackers, thanks to its location between tourist central Khaosan Rd and the universities of Thamassat and Silpakorn.
When:  No actual market but shops open from around 11-1am, but go after 4pm once the sun starts to set.
What: The Trapeze Swinger is a hidden gem in a small alley that connects Phra Athit and Ram Butri roads; this is undoubtedly the coolest shop in the soi. Here you can get exclusive collections of retro fashion items, rock-band T-shirts, old CDs and cassettes, and even vinyl discs. The Chonabod takes its design inspiration from popular Thai culture (think famous phrases and funny images) and applies it to everything from screen print tees to notebooks and mugs.
Just hop on one of the following  Chaophraya river ferries to get to your chosen pier. Boats leave roughly every 20min from Saphan Taksin Pier (BTS Saphan Taksin). Fares fun about Bht 5-15 depending on distance; a cashier will come around on board to collection your fare. When you are approaching your stop make sure you head to the back of the boat in plenty of time as these tugs are notorious for stopping VERY briefly before pulling away and heading onwards; thus, it's all to easy to miss your stop.

Tourist boat: Stops at Central Pier (BTS Saphan Taksin), N1, N3, N5, Wat Kanlayanamit Pier, N8, Maharat Pier, N10, N13. Daily 9:30am-7:30pm.
No flag: Stops every pier. Mon-Fri 6:20-8:05am, 3-5:30pm.
Orange flag: Stops at Central Pier, N1, N3-6, N8, N10, N15-16, N18, N21-22, N24, N29/1-30. Daily 6am-7pm.
Yellow or green flag: Stops at Central Pier, N3, N5, N9, N10, N12, N15-16, N24, N30, N32-33. Mon-Fri 6:15-8:10am, 3:30-6:05pm.
Yellow flag:  Stops at Central Pier, N3, N5, N10, N12, N15, N22, N24, N30. Mon-Fri 6:15-8:30am, 3:30-8pm.

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