Travel, Teach, Live in Thailand
Markets are a fundamental part of Bangkok life and Pratunam Shopping Market is certainly no exception. The name of the market means Water Gate. I have yet to establish why or what the name refers to. Locals here are not saying a word. Perhaps they simply don't know. Anyway it's not really that great an importance. What is more important is that this market is primarily a clothing market though there are lots of other merchandise you can purchase here too.
I can only imagine that the possible suggestion as to the name is because of the intricate series of canals that connect the greater portion of the population to the inner city. Lots of boats travel up and down these waterways daily. They provide a safe and convenient form of transportation as opposed to the congested street traffic. Not only that, they offer a faster way to get to the many markets. Water Taxis are the answer.
The core business generated at Pratunam Market is clothing, thus making it one of the major players in this particular industry. It is also possibly the best market for buying clothes, fabrics and textiles in Bangkok.
Chatuchak Weekend Market may well be selling cheaper clothes but Pratunam market has two distinct advantages. First and foremost, the market remains open virtually all day and night. Secondly, English is both spoken and understood here. It just makes shopping that much easier and also greatly helps when trying to negotiate better wholesale prices.
The market is situated at the intersection of Ratchaprarop and Phetburi Roads directly behind the Amari Watergate Hotel and then continues all the way around the streets surrounding both the Indra Regent and the Baiyoke Sky hotels.
On my first trip to Bangkok, I stayed at the Baiyoke Sky. It is the tallest building as well as the tallest hotel in the city so it's not that difficult to miss. It may not be the best of hotels to stay in but the hotel does offer much bigger rooms than most other hotels in similar categories. There is however a nice observation deck on the 77th floor and a revolving restaurant on the 84th floor. Non residents are welcome to gain access to both of the floors between 10:00 am and 10:00 pm at a cost of 200 baht, but there is no charge should you be staying at this hotel.
I did stay once at the Indra Regent but this is one hotel in Bangkok, I would not recommend. Although the hotel has a large shopping arcade on the premises and a comfy coffee shop, the hotel itself has a rather damp and clammy feel about it.
If you should walk along Ratchaprarop Road, you will soon notice a fair number of extremely narrow and dimly-lit alleyways, all jam-packed with a chaotic collection of small shops and even smaller stalls. Both locals and tourists alike jostle around for whatever available space there is, so as to move up and down the lanes with relative ease and with as little discomfort as can be possible.
You may love it or you may hate it but one thing is for certain, because this is a natural part of life in Thailand, it may well be an experience, you shouldn't miss.
I for one, relish these opportunities. It is quite safe to stroll through these aisles although it is advisable to keep a tight hold on to your personal possessions and never ever keep your money in your back pocket. Should you find shopping here a little unpleasant you might consider going to nearby Platinum Fashion Mall.
Don't even think about crossing the bustling highway to this mall unless you are either an out-and-out crazy adrenaline junkie or a wee bit insane. Please use the pedestrian bridges of which there are quite a few. You may have to walk a very short distance to reach one but your safety will be assured. Happy shopping.
The surrounding streets outside Pratunam market is abuzz with lots of lively stalls and their vendors selling a variety of inexpensive merchandise. Here you can buy all sorts of goodies from the latest male and female fashion garments, costume jewellery, local handicrafts, fake watches, designer lighters and whatever else may take your fancy. Don't forget to practice your bargaining skills. It's also advisable to wear a good pair of walking shoes as you will do a lot of that here.
The market is very close to Panthip Plaza on the new Phetchaburi Road where you can shop for computer hardware and software, photographic equipment and mobile phones. There is also Central World Plaza nearby which is the upmarket shopping complex situated on the corner of Petchaburi and Ratchaprarop Roads.
Hi my name is Grahame Pike and the author of this article. My passion is travel, art, writing and meeting new and interesting people in strange and exotic locations. If you enjoyed reading this page and would like to see the photos relating to this article as well as some of my other editorials on Thailand, please follow me at: http://www.luxury-thailand-travel.com/