End of the Month Roundup - May 2013

I promised at the start of May that I will feature some shopping places in Bangkok. Well, I’m glad to say that I managed to post about the three shopping places that I visited during my 6-month stay in Thailand.

So many things had happened during this month. I felt that it passed very quickly and now the second half of the year is almost upon us. Time flies very very fast indeed!

There is a big challenge for my country in the month of May. We, the Filipino people, were challenged to elect government leaders who are worthy to serve the nation. I know that many people will be offended but I believe that we failed in this challenge. The electorate still chose politicians who have dubious reputations.

It is frustrating but whining and complaining will not solve any problem. The result of the current elections just showed that there is more work to be done to educate the electorate. I do hope that those who are complaining about the past election start doing what they could to solve the country’s problems

May was also an exciting month for me and my Beloved. We already selected the church and date of our wedding. We know that it is just the first step and that we have a lot of things to do. This makes me jittery. May I request a prayer from you, my friends, for the sake of our wedding preparations?

I said earlier that I talked about some shopping places for this month. Actually, I only talked about three shopping places because these are the only places where I shopped in Bangkok. These shopping places are:

Chatuchak Weekend Market

Clock tower of Chatuchak Weekend Market

Chatuchak Weekend Market is my favorite shopping center in Bangkok. It is the shopping mecca for Thai souvenirs and thousands of tourists visit the place. I think that I visited Chatuchak more than 3 times in search for souvenirs that I will bring back to the Philippines for my friends and love ones.

Siam Center

Big glasses in Siam Center, Bangkok

Siam Center is my least favorite shopping center in Bangkok. I know that this place is upscale, elegant and features high-end products from popular brands. I am not attracted to this mall because the products being sold here can also be found in the big malls in the Philippines.

Mahboonkrong Center

Mahboonkrong, Bangkok

Mahboonkrong is my second favorite shopping place in Bangkok. This shopping place is also popular with tourists because of the many Thai souvenirs being sold here. The positive thing with Mahboonkrong is that it strikes a balance between Chatuchak and Siam Center. This place is less chaotic (unlike Chatuchak) but not upscale enough to drive away bargain hunters.

I know that these three shopping centers are not the only shopping places in Bangkok. There are scores of them scattered all throughout the city. Maybe you know of the other shopping centers, so please share them to us.

The month of May is already done. I do hope that all of you had beautiful experiences during this month. Let us look forward for a blessed month of June.

End of the Month Roundup is the monthly segment of this blog that summarizes all the adventures that I featured for the month.

Hunting Elephants in Mahboonkrong

Just a month before I go home from Thailand, I noticed that I need to buy more pasalubong. I already visited Chatuchak Weekend Market but I failed to find some items in my list. The critical item would be the elephant stuffed toys for my godchildren.

A Myanmese friend told me that Mahboonkrong (MBK) has everything. Because of his recommendation and the fact that MBK is Bangkok's most popular shopping destinatination, I decided to go there to find the other items in my pasalubong list.


How to Go to Mahboonkrong

Mahboonkrong is located on the land owned by the nearby Chulalongkorn University. It is just a short walk from the National Stadium and Siam Center Stations of the BTS (Skytrain). So, the fastest and easiest way to reach Mahboongkron is by riding the BTS trains.

You can also choose to ride taxi if your hotel is far away from any BTS station. Buses can also take you to this shopping mall but you have to know what bus can take you there.

What to See in Mahboonkrong

Mahboonkrong is really big. It has 8 floors and around 2,000 shops plus restaurants and other service outlets.* Many tourists visit this mall to buy souvenirs that they can take back to their countries. I was one of those tourists and I'm glad to say that I was not disappointed with MBK.

The interior of Mahboonkrong
Inside Mahboonkrong, and yes the King is also honored here.

I consider Mahboonkrong as a better organized and air conditioned version of Chatuchak Weekend Market. The items that I saw in the weekend market were also present in MBK at almost the same price.

I was busy looking for the elephant stuffed toys that I took very few photos of the shops inside MBK. Another reason for the few photos is that I didn't want to get reprimanded by vendors from taking photos of their wares.

Of the many souvenir items that I found in Mahboonkrong, the most weird would be from this shop:

Weird souvenirs from Mahboonkrong

This shop sells ghostly-version of your face inside a piece of glass cube. The souvenir item is creepy because it made me think that the camera captures souls and imprison them inside the glass.

The first item that I bought in Mahboonkrong were the baseball caps that I will give to my father and future father-in-law. The vendor gave me a better price as compared to that vendor of a shop near the Grand Palace.

Souvenirs from Mahboonkrong: baseball caps

I kept on walking and searching for the toy elephants but it proved to be so hard to find. I saw clothes, toys, plastic fruits, fake flowers, gadgets, key chains, ref magnets ad all other things that I didn't need.

A sample of a shop in Mahboonkrong

I almost gave up the search until I saw a small stall selling elephant stuffed toys that, as the vendor said, are made of silk. It would not be the kind of stuffed toys for little children but I think it would be OK because it is a unique item from Thailand.

Toy elephants from Mahboonkrong

The original price of the elephant is 399 Baht but the vendor agreed to lower it to 350 Baht. So, I shelled out 700 Baht for these elephants.

I walked a little more to a shop that sells real stuffed toys. I finally saw a small green elephant, which would be perfect for my godson who is still a baby.

Stuffed toy elephant from Mahboonkrong

I got the three elephants that I wanted so I was contented when I left Mahboonkrong.

All in all, I say that my hunt in Mahboonkrong is a good experience. I was a little tired though because I searched every floor to find the elephant that I wanted.

Mahboonkrong is the best mall in Bangkok when it comes to bargain items. Tourists who don't want hot and crowded places should go to this mall instead of the Chatuchak Weekend Market. Both places have the same selection of items but shopping is more comfortable in Mahboonkrong.


*Information from Mahboonkrong page of Wikipedia.

Siam Center in Bangkok

Popular shopping destinations in Bangok are the bargain malls and markets where souvenirs can be bought. MBK and Chatuchak Weekend Market is just two of these bargain shopping centers. Tourists who want to see an upscale shopping center have nothing to fret, however, because Bangkok also has the Siam Center.

Siam Center shopping complex in Bangkok, Thailand

Siam Center is not just one mall but a mall complex that have a lot of buildings. Unlike MBK and Chatuchak Weekend Market, Siam Center has shops that sell high-end products from popular brands.

How to Go to Siam Center

Siam Center is at the "center" of Bangkok at the corner of Phaya Thai Road and Rama I Road. Taxis and buses can reach this shopping complex but the fastest way is by riding the skytrain (BTS). You should go down the BTS - Siam Station to reach this shopping complex.

Siam Center Attractions

Aside from shops, Siam Center also has various attractions like Madame Tussauds Wax Museum and the Siam Ocean World.

Entrance to Siam Ocean World

Siam Ocean World looks cool but I didn't go in. I already visited the Manila Ocean Park, which I think also offers similar attractions (i.e. fishes inside the tanks, animal shows, etc). I rather spend my money on Thai historical sites and other attractions that can't be found in the Philippines.

Wall designs in Siam Ocean World

I just ogled at some of the designs at the entrance to Siam Ocean World like these penguins:

Penguins in Bangkok

Siam Center is not the mall for me because I don't buy expensive stuffs. I'm also not keen on window shopping so I didn't went to the shops of Siam Center. What caught my attention in this mall are the designs that gave this mall an artistic aura.

Giant glasses in Siam Center

Siam Center has giant horses guarding its doors.

Statue of wooden horses in Siam Center, Bangkok

Too bad that they're just wooden horses. I wonder if there is a secret room inside these horses like the Trojan Horse.

A wooden horse in Siam Center, Bangkok
Siam Center's wooden horse

I don't know who made these wooden horses. What I know is that I saw one of them being sold at a shop during my travels in the northern part of Thailand.

There's a sort of mini-museum of modern art when I visited Siam Center. Can anyone guess the modern artist connected to this can of Campbell's Tomato Soup?

Very big can of Campells Tomato Soup in Siam Center, Bangkok

The mini-museum is not orderly. Things are scattered on the floor and everything is a mess. I think the chaotic style of modern art mirrors the chaotic “modern era”.

A painting of Queen Margrethe of Denmark by Andy Warhol
Queen Margrethe of Denmark

There are paintings on the second floor of the mini-museum. Taking photos is prohibited but I managed to take a snap of this painting of Queen Margrethe of Denmark by Andy Warhol. The mini-museum featured Andy Warhol because he's an icon of the modern art. Here's a trivia for you concerning Andy Warhol: do you know that Andy is a Catholic? You can read about this art tidbit here.

There are other interesting things that can be seen in Siam Center, like the fountains on the open air walkway, but I didn't spend time to look at all of them. What I saw inside this mall is already enough for me.

Shopping in Chatuchak Weekend Market

Bangkok is a shopping haven. This city has plenty of shopping places that will surely delight all shopaholics. Tourists can go to Mahboonkrong (MBK), Siam Center, the shops in Bangkok Chinatown and other street shops. Of all the shopping places in Bangkok, the one that I prefer to visit is the Chatuchak Weekend Market.

Clock tower of Chatuchak Weekend Market
The iconic clock tower of Chatuchak.

I bought most of my souvenirs and pasalubong in Chatuchak Weekend Market. As I had said in the previous post, Chatuchak Weekend Market is a mecca for affordable Thai souvenirs. This market has plenty of shops and wide array of products to choose from.

How to Go to Chatuchak Weekend Market

Chatuchak Weekend Market is located just beside the Chatuchak Park in Mo Chit. It is accessible by bus and taxi but the best and fastest way to reach it is by riding the Sky Train or the underground train of MRT. Go out of the Mo Chit Station of the MRT or the BTS (Sky Train) if you used the train to reach Mo Chit.

Map of Mo Chit, Bangkok showing the location of Chatuchak Weekend Market
(Source: Google Maps)

Chatuchak Weekend Market is touted as one the world’s largest weekend market. The whole market has a total of 27 acres* and have more than 5,000 stalls** selling products from different parts of Thailand.

My Chatuchak Weekend Market Experience

A Myanmese friend brought me to Chatuchak Weekend Market during my first visit. I was overwhelmed by the place because it is very big and has a lot of stalls to choose from. The place is very crowded too, especially in the hallway where goods for sale and buyers block the way.

The crowd and chaos in Chatuchak is nothing as compares to that in Divisoria. Shopper-veterans of Divisoria will find Chatuchak Weekend Market easy to navigate.

Map of Chatuchak Weekend Market
Map of Chatuchak Weekend Market. (Source: Asian Escapes)

The labyrinthine lay-out of this market made it very hard for to locate the shops that I visited previously. Thus, I just kept on walking until I found a stall that had good prices.

Buyers in Chatuchak Weekend Market
Hordes of bargain hunters in Chatuchak.

The immensity of this market will be a challenge to shopaholics. Like what an article in Bangkok.com said, “this is where you can literally shop ‘till you drop’”.

I shopped two or three times in Chatuchak Weekend Market, and thankfully I didn’t “drop” due to exhaustion. I only experienced fatigue and aching limbs because of too much walking. Bargain hunting is truly exhausting in Chatuchak.

Stores in Chatuchak Weekend Market

Vendors in Chatuchak Weekend Market are very strict when it comes to taking photos. Many stalls don’t allow tourists to take photos of their wares. There is one time that a vendor approached me and demanded to hand over my camera so she can delete the photos. From that day on, I avoid taking photos of stores in Chatuchak.

Perimeter road of Chatuchak Weekend Market

I always enjoy shopping in Chatuchak Weekend Market. There are so many things to see and that includes the different people coming from different countries. I even met a group of Filipinos buying souvenirs in this market.

How I Bargained in Chatuchak

Negotiating prices with vendors is a challenge in Chatuchak. They know that buyers will ask for discounts so they mark up the prices of their goods. Thus, it is imperative to haggle with the vendors for a lower price.

Chatuchak Weekend Market

I make it a point to ask for discount whenever I buy an item. I leave the stall if the item is common (i.e. key chain, ref magnets, etc.) and the vendor don't want to give any discount. I just go to other stores that will give better prices.

I managed to shave 10% of the original price most of the time. Take note that you will get better prices if you buy many items in a store. This is their tactic to make customers buy more items in their shop.

Items for Sale in Chatuchak

Figurines for sale in Chatuchak Weekend Market

Name it and Chatuchak Weekend Market probably has it. I saw ref magnets, key chains, figurines, clothes, caps, and all the typical souvenir items. I also saw dogs and other pets for sale. There are books too. The wide variety of goods found in Chatuchak Weekend Market draws many tourists.

European bar in Chatuchak Weekend Market

There are also bars and restaurants within the market grounds. The most noticeable restaurant, I think, is the one with so many Europeans. I noticed that people actually line up just to eat at this place.

In the previous post, I said that I made the mistake of going to Chatuchak during the weekdays. What I saw, instead of souvenir items, are decorative plants being sold throughout the market.

I discovered that there is market schedule for Chatuchak. Plants and flowers are being sold from Wednesday to Thursday. Fridays are wholesale day. Weekends (Saturday and Sunday) are the days when Chatuchak is fully open.

So, to avoid any hassle, I suggest that you go to Chatuchak during the weekend so you will not be disappointed like me.

Chatuchak Weekend Market may not be as grand as MBK or Siam Center mall but it has charms of its own. What I like with this place is its rawness. It is as if tourists come to this place not only to strike a bargain but also to find an adventure.


A Stroll in Chatuchak Park

One thing that I like about Bangkok is the presence of greens even though it is a highly urbanized city. The Thai government created parks in many parts of the city so as to give Bangkok citizen a place to enjoy nature. One of these parks is the Chatuchak Park located in the Chatuchak District.

I believe that Chatuchak Park is the most popular park in Bangkok because it is located near Chatuchak Weekend Market, which is the mecca for affordable Thai souvenirs. The truth is that I always pass this park whenever I go to weekend market. Chatuchak Park is very big and shoppers to the market will find it hard to avoid it.

Clock tower of Chatuchak Park
Clock tower in Chatuchak Park.

There was a day when I decided to go to Chatuchak Weekend Market even though it was not a weekend. I refused to believe that such a popular tourist attraction is not open during the weekdays. I went to Chatuchak Weekend Market hoping to buy some pasalubong or souvenirs. That's the day I realized that the “weekend” in Jatujak Weekend Market really means weekend. All the shops are closed and what's on sale are decorative plants.

I was disappointed with the day I wasted. I decided to vent my frustration by strolling at the nearby Chatuchak Park.

Chatuchak Park

There is nothing much to see in Chatuchak Park other than the trees and plants that are soothing to the eyes. I think that this is a perfect place to relax after many hours of bargain hunting in the weekend market.

There is no entrance fee to this park and anyone can just have a picnic here.

I had no mat that day so I just sat on the grass. Pigeons approached me asking for food.

Hungry pigeons in Chatuchak Park

Good thing that a friendly college student offered me some of her bird food. At least I had something to feed these feathered creatures.

I noticed that there are so many pigeons in Chatuchak Park. They're everywhere gawking at park visitors for food. Tourists who want to feed the birds can buy bird food from vendors inside the park. The bird food costs 10 or 20 Baht a pack.

Pigeons in Chatuchak Park

A man-made lake was placed in the middle of the park. It reminded me of the canals that are so common in Bangkok. I guess that waterways is important to Thai culture that they usually place any body of water in their parks.

Man-made lake of Chatuchak Park

Bridges cross this lake and I bet that this are place that would be good for photos.

Bridge of Chatuchak Park

There are boats-for-rent on the lake. These are good for couples because each can load up to two persons.

Boats on the lake of Chatuchak Park

There's nothing impressive with Chatuchak Park aside from being the park near to the popular weekend market. Tourists can use this place to take a rest after a tiresome day at the weekend market. The good thing with this park is that the stations of the Skytrain and MRT (underground train) are in the vicinity. Visitors to this park can easily go to other places in Bangkok by just riding the trains.

Souvenirs from Thailand

One thing that a balikbayan worries about before going back to the Philippines is the buying of pasalubong. I have the same worry in the last month of my stay in Thailand. I know that many people expect tokens from me when I return to my normal mode of life in the Philippines.

I made a list of people who will receive pasalubong from me. I included in the list my bosses, close office mates, close friends, some relatives, my brothers and sisters, my parents and my future in-laws, my future wedding godparents, my godchildren, and my Beloved. I also made sure that I will have my own souvenirs from the beautiful country of Thailand.

Thailand souvenir - Thai key chain

Key chains are the usual tokens that I buy whenever I travel around the Philippines. In fact, I collect keychains to mark the places that I already visited. The keychains shown in the above photo were given to some of my supervisors and other bosses in the office. For my other office mates, I gave these keychains:

Thailand souvenir - Thai key chains
Key chain of masks

I can't recall the exact price of these key chains. I think a pack of of those key chains costs around 100 Baht. I bought these key chains in Chatuchak Weekend Market.

Key chain looks cool but what's more cooler are refrigerator magnets. I now prefer to buy ref magnets during my travels than key chains. I aim to cover the door of our refrigerator with all the ref magnets that I have.

Thailand souvenir - elephant ref magnets

These are the magnets that I gave to my friends. They're pretty to look at and the good thing is that it costs 10 Baht per piece. This is much better and cheaper than the ref magnets (below photo) that costs 100 Baht per 3 pieces.

Thailand souvenir - Bangkok themed ref magnets
Expensive ref magnets

I bought the 10-Baht-per-piece from the Sinthai – Jatujak store in Chatuchak Weekend Market. The store is located in stall 121-125 Section 8 Soi 14/3 of the weekend market. I highly suggest this shop because their ref magnets are cheap. You may contact the shop owner at his mobile number 089-991-2828.

Aside from these, I have other ref magnets that I bought from other places in Thailand.

Thailand souvenir ref magnets
(Clockwise from upper left) key chain from Sukothai, and ref magnets from Doitung Flower Garden,
Ayutthaya, Mae Sai and Chiang Rai.

Now you have a hint of the places that will I post in the future.

Big bosses should have a special kind of gift, which means that it must not be a key chain. What I bought for them is a bell that doubles as bottle opener.

Thailand souvenir - bell and bottle opener
Bell + bottle opener

I also bought shot glasses for another Big Boss.

Thailand souvenir - shot glass

What I like with these items is that they are placed in decent boxes. I just handed them to the big bosses without the hassle of looking for boxes.

One challenge is in searching for souvenir gifts for my parents and future in-laws. My search is easier for my father and future father-in-law because I decided to give them baseball caps.

Thailand souvenir - baseball caps

My only mistake in buying these caps is that I bought it at a market near the Grand Palace. One cap costs 400 Baht in that market! My blood pressure went up when I discovered that the same caps cost 250 Baht each in MBK. I was tricked! Grrrr...

Lesson learned. I must avoid shops located near popular tourist spots.

I had a hard time searching for gifts for my mother and future mother-in-law until I reached Mae Sai, which is the northernmost town of Thailand. I found these beautiful jewel boxes in the market of that town.

Thailand souvenir - jewel boxes from Mae Sai

Each box costs at a reasonable price of 250 baht. Too bad that I didn't have the money to buy gold and jewels that I will place in these boxes.

I bought another gift for my mother when I was in Ayutthaya, which is this bag:

Thailand souvenir - bag from Ayutthaya

The bag costs 150 Baht.

The elephant is the symbol of Thailand. So, I searched for elephant stuffed toys. What I found are the following:

Thailand souvenir - elephant stuffed toy

Thailand souvenir - elephant stuffed toys

Thailand souvenir - blue elephant

I gave the small elephants to my godchildren. I gave the big one to my Beloved.

There are other items that I bought from Chatuchak Weekend Market, MBK and other stores around Thailand. Of the many souvenirs that I bought, the ones that I value the most is this copy of the Holy Bible from a church in Rangsit town in Pathumthani Province...

Thailand souvenir - the Holy Bible in Thai language
The Holy Bible in Thai language.

...and the image of Our Lady of Thailand that I bought from the store of Bangkok Cathedral.

Image of our Lady of Thailand

I value that copy of the Bible because it represents the parish church that served as my refuge during my 6-month stay in Thailand. It also reminded me of my Thai Catholic friends I met in that church. The image of Our Lady is highly valued because it is a very unique souvenir. Very few tourists buy this image as their souvenir of their visit to Thailand.

These are the few items that I bought as souvenirs from Thailand. I have other items that I didn't include here like the shirt I bought for my niece. I know that that my blog post will be very long if I include them all here.

How about you? What are the things that you buy to serve as souvenirs for the places that you visited. Please tell us by leaving a comment.