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. The 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 also lots of other merchandise you can purchase at Pratunam too.
I can only imagine that it's possible 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.
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 markets. Water Taxis are the answer.
The core business generated in 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 here. Chatuchak Weekend Market may well be selling cheaper clothes, but this market has two distinct advantages.
Firstly, this market remains open virtually all day and night and secondly, English is both spoken and understood here. It just makes shopping that much easier and also greatly helps you when trying to negotiate better wholesale prices.
The market is situated at the intersection of Ratchaprarop and Petchburi 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 difficult to miss that. 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 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 once stayed at the Indra Regent but this is one hotel in Bangkok, I would not recommend. Though 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 to it.
If you 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 the 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 short distance to reach one, but your safety will be assured. Happy shopping.
The surrounding streets outside the Pratunam market are 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 takes your fancy.
Don't forget to practice your bargaining skills. It's advisable to wear a good pair of walking shoes as you'll do a lot of that here.
The market is close to Panthip Plaza on the new Petchburi 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 on the corner of Petchaburi and Ratchaprarop Roads.
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