There's a place in the heart of Bangkok that every woman should know about. Heck – every man should know about it, too!
It's called MBK, and it is the easiest and most exciting place to buy bags of cheap clothes in Thailand, and doing so on a long layover is even better!
I got word of MBK from Adventurous Kate. On my last trip to study Russian in Kyrgyzstan in November 2011, I had a day to get to know Bangkok on the way home.
Definitely not a lot of time to get acquainted with the huge, bustling city, I asked for recommendations from other travelers on Facebook to which Kate suggested I do some shopping at MBK.
After getting settled at my hostel, I hopped a ride to MBK and immediately discovered what the fuss was all about!
MBK was so much fun, I took my boyfriend there on our overnight layover in Bangkok just a couple of weeks ago.
MBK, or Mah Boon Krong in long Thai form, presents itself as the shopping mall of shopping malls.
That's 8 floors of bags, clothes, shoes, electronics, and food – over 2000 stalls all in one place and ready for the eager eyes of foreigners with money to spend.
No, it's not designer quality merchandise, but with so much to offer, it serves its purpose well.
MBK opened in 1986 and covers over 89,000 square meters of shopping goodness.
It consists of:
- Clothes and handbags predominantly on the bottom levels
- Electronics and mobile phones on the 4th floor
- Fifth Food Avenue and international food court on the 5th floor
- Tokyu Department Store which covers 4 floors
It seemed that many of the shops go off a sticker price, but bargaining is still fair game at MBK.
Perks of shopping at MBK:
- Air conditioned facilities. The extremely humid climate of Thailand can be overwhelming, so the fact there is a giant, free air conditioned building to hang out in all day is a big plus.
- Everything is in one building. Want shoes, shirts, make-up, bags, food, electronics and furniture? It's all right there in MBK!
- Discounts and bargains. Not only are the prices right at MBK, but bargaining can get you even better deals!
Time disappears in MBK. One minute you'll be lost trying on shoes and the next minute, you'll look at your watch and see that an hour has passed and you've only just moved to the next stall filled with leather handbags.
If you're on a long layover in Bangkok, and therefore have limited shopping time, be prepared:
Have an idea of what you want to buy in advance.
Need a new handbag? Make that the priority.
Shopping for souvenirs? Make a list and stick to it.
I mean it when I say that time disappears in that mall!
Don't spend too much time considering a single purchase.
If you're not sure if the item is right for you, just take note (a quick iPhone photo of the shop/product will do) and move on to the next.
There are dozens of every kind of shop in MBK; you'll find something else!
Bring some water.
You don't want to get dehydrated shopping (yes, I'm serious) and not be able to focus on the task at hand.
Even if you don't bring one, there are several fast food restaurants and shops that will sell beverages.
Enjoy a Meal at MBK
As mentioned above, the 5th floor of MBK holds a food court, and regardless of it being a food court in a shopping mall, you can get some pretty decent international and local food there.
My boyfriend and I had but an evening to enjoy Bangkok and fill our bags with as many pieces of bargain clothing as possible, so we dined at MBK, too.
Greek, Mexican, Chinese, and vegetarian were all at our fingertips, but we decided to go with Indonesian and Thai – about enough for 5 people in fact – and were not disappointed in the least.
Even better was the fact that we got to enjoy our fresh cooked food to live music from a Thai band, singing mostly in English.
One the main shopping levels of MBK, one can find Auntie Anne's pretzels, Pizza Hut, Dairy Queen, McDonald's, and much more.
If you only have a layover to enjoy the shopping bliss of MBK, I suggest doing your best to leave that for your trip home.
We loved being able to shop without having to worry about carrying the goods around with us from country to country.
Brooke lives a thrifty lifestyle so that she can travel the world at every possible opportunity. Find more of her writing on her website: Her Packing List. Or follow her on Twitter.
Planning a trip? Go Backpacking recommends:
- G Adventures for small group tours.
- World Nomads for travel insurance.
- Hostelworld for booking hostels.
- Rail Europe for train passes.
Saturday 22nd of September 2012
MBK is a great shopping experience and if you get into the market section with the small stalls you can literally spend hours without realising it.
Of course if you want real bargains then you need to head over to Platinum Fashion mall at Pratunam. If your hotel is located in the general area then it is near enough to walk there. You can't miss it because it is the area surround the Baiyoke Building that stick up like a great landmark in Bangkok.
Even if you walk slowly you will still get there faster than a taxi because the traffic is horrendous around Pratunam.
On the other side of the road from Platinum Mall is the City Complex, which is where most of the small retailers in Bangkok are buying there stuff. The best discounting is if you buy 3 or more items, but it is really cheap.
Tuesday 21st of August 2012
We spent a lot of time at MBK on our recent trip to Bangkok. It really is shopping heaven. I felt like I had been walking around sightseeing all day by the end!
Monday 20th of August 2012
I still get lost and confused every time I go to MBK. I always think of it as the "casino" of shopping malls - somehow I can never seem to find the exit (and I think they designed it that way)!
Monday 20th of August 2012
Brooke, I'm so glad you went!
I wear something from MBK about 2/3 of the time. Seriously. I went on a total shopping spree there after the shipwreck. There is a great store there called Eden where I got the blue dress I'm always wearing, plus a ton more dresses and shirts. Leggings, a pair of fake D&G jeans that cost me $30 -- there is SO MUCH GREAT STUFF in that place! The pirated DVD section is pretty amusing, too.