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For many people, Bangkok is a shopping destination. There are so many expansive and extensive malls like Emporium, Siam Paragon, Gaysorn and CentralWorld selling everything from high street, mainstream brands to Prada, Gucci, LV and the usual suspects among luxury brands. People travel from all over the region to find brands not available in their country or better prices due VAT refunds or lower customs duties. But if you really want to find a bargain in Bangkok, you need to shop like the locals do – at MBK mall. In addition to generally lower prices you will also find quirky, cool items from local designers, DVD copies of the latest movies, copies of high end branded clothing.

I am not sure what exactly they don’t have at MBK. Structured like an open air market brought indoors, each section of the mall had a theme. There is the furniture and home decor floor – I bought a copy of an Eileen Grey design side table here for about $75USD. There is the cell phone floor where I also once purchased an unlocked iPhone. There are fake bags galore as well as a whole floor of fake DVD’s containing movies, software and video games. And then there is a whole section of clothing with factory samples as copies of branded merchandise – if you want a Burberry polo shirt copy or a Singha beer tee-shirt, this is the place to go. Have a costume party? Go here for masks and funny sunglasses and all manner of wigs and hats. Local designers, known and unknown, have stores here where everything from men’s shoes and belts to party dresses are sold. Do you need a camera or a lens? – some of the most trustworthy vendors in town are here. Finally there is a whole section of Thai handicrafts and goods and local food stuffs that make for excellent gifts. And interspersed between all these various categories of products are fast food restaurants, foot massage spas and  coffee shops in case the shopping chaos becomes too much.

Honestly for me, I find MBK overwhelming. It is always full. Always. The amount and variety of choice is staggering. So be prepared for crowds and rafters of merchandise stacked to the ceiling. Go with a sense of adventure and a willingness to poke around and discover (and a good chunk of time to spare).  In order to make your mission easier, I am sharing my favourite stores and stalls.

- DVD’s - honestly the selection doesn’t vary so much from seller to seller, so I don’t have a recommended stall. But I will give you a few tips. Negotiate a price per DVD once you know about how many you want to buy, it’s easier to get a lower price the more you buy. Look for DVD 9 which is the highest quality of DVD to ensure the best picture. And get the seller’s business card and an assurance you can return if any of the DVD’s do not work.

- Denim Jeans - there are so many sellers of jeans at MBK. In some cases I am not sure if there are copies or real products that “fell off the truck.” I prefer to buy my jeans at  CAMP on the 1st floor, they have a great selection of Diesel jeans. I cannot tell the difference between my Bangkok “Diesels” and the ones I bought at the Diesel store in New York.

- Thai Cotton Textiles - the Green Cotton vendor carries sustainable “green” cotton goods ranging from cozy tshirts and hats to keep the sun off your face to cotton shopping bags, plush towels and comfy bathrobes. While it might not be cheap, cheap…I think the prices are very reasonable for the quality.

- Cameras – Fotofile is a trustworthy seller of cameras, lenses and other photo equipment. From point and shoots to pro cameras. They speak reasonable English, so you can ask lots of questions and negotiate fairly easily here.

- Men’s Clothing – for Thai fashion, look for Jaspal. It is trendy but with some classic features that add a bit of polish to the designs. For more t-shirts and shorts guys, check out any of the stores call “Export.” They have factory seconds of name brands like J. Crew, Tommy Hilfiger, etc. They have a few things for women from time to time – I once bought 2 long sleeve J. Crew tshirts for a grand total of $10USD.

- Furniture & Home Stuffs - Go to Index Furniture Center for all kinds of modern styles of furniture and home accessories. I got several things here from my copy of an Eileen Grey design table to a modern, design-y dish drying rack in chrome.

Good luck and happy shopping. If all else fails and you get tired of haggling or the crowds, duck into one of the spas for a Thai foot massage.

Getting there: Take the Bangkok BTS (above ground train) to National Stadium. You can walk directly from the train platform into the mall without going down to street level.

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