Shopping in Chinatown has a timeless quality to it and offers the perfect antidote to the modern mega-malls that are springing up in other areas of Bangkok. Here, tradition prevails and it's possible to get lost down alleyways with traders selling the same specialist merchandise as their forefathers did generations ago.

    Prices are probably the cheapest you can find in the city, but bargaining is necessary and it can certainly get too hot and hectic for some, so we recommend taking it slow, stopping frequently to snack and drink, and enjoying the craziness of the best shopping in Chinatown.

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    Sampeng Lane is a long narrow street intersecting Chinatown selling a jumble of goods. Much like the rest of the area, Sampeng Lane is cluttered, chaotic and a lot of fun. The dimensions of this street are so limited, in certain parts, you could stretch out across the alley and grab a pair of flip-flops in one hand and a Christmas tree in the other, yet unbelievably this was the original high street of Chinatown when the Chinese community first moved here. You can find everything and anything on Sampeng Lane, although locating it might be a problem.

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    Location: Soi Wanit 1, Chakkrawat Rd, Samphanthawong, Bangkok 10100, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 8.30 am to 6 pm

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    Old Siam Plaza is a shopping arcade in a lovingly restored European-style building. Sitting on the western edge of Chinatown shoppers will find an eclectic mix of shops and food stalls here. The 2 domed atriums are split between fashion items on one side and traditional Thai snacks on the other.

    Upstairs there are several speciality wedding tailors and accessory boutiques while on the outside of the shopping centre there are several weapons and ammunitions shops selling guns, knives and hunting gear – you must have a license to buy weapons. This is an excellent (and air-conditioned) shopping experience in Chinatown.

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    Location: Phahurat Rd, Wang Burapha Phirom, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 8 pm

    Phone: +66 (0)2 226 0156

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    photo by mohigan (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

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    Best known for secondhand goods and assorted knick-knacks, Klong Thom Market sees action every Saturday from 5pm onwards. Formerly known as 'Flashlight Market' due to the fact that buyers needed a flashlight to see the goods, this market is especially crowded on late Saturday nights.

    Covering areas of Luang, Worachak and Charoenkrung, Klong Thom has everything from spare car parts to DVDs and CDs, electronic devices to clothing items and toys. Besides the roadside stalls, there's also a 3-storey Klong Thom Centre (close to Worachak Road) where car accessories and toys are on sale. If you want to avoid the crowd, best time to go is Sunday morning from 8am until 11am.

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    Location: Samphanthawong, Pomprapsattruphai, Bangkok 10100, Thailand

    Open: Saturday from 5 pm to 1 am. A few traders open every day.

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    photo by shankar s. (CC BY 2.0) modified

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    Also known as Little India, this market area is frequented by few tourists but is nonetheless bustling with locals. Once crossing Chakraphek Road you will enter Pahurat. Within these first few blocks lay Pahurat's textile-selling action, so choose one of the many small alleyways and dive into the heart of it all.

    The labyrinth of narrow lanes gives way to plentiful rolls of textiles such as silk, cotton, wool and cashmere in all kinds of colours, each to be brought at a good rate.

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    Location: Tri Phet Rd, Wang Burapha Phirom, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10170, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 6.30 am to 6.30 pm

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    Talat Kao

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    Talat Kao is a 200-year-old market and was the original fresh trading area for the first Chinese settlers to this area. These days, everything is far more modern, with a walking street vibe (although plenty of motorbikes and tuk-tuks will be beeping their way through the foot traffic).

    At the beginning of the market area, there's a congregation of fruit stalls where you can buy seasonal fruits at some of the cheapest prices and deeper into the market you will find an array of dried goods for sale and some hard to find snacks, such as pak mor, a steamed coconut snack.

    Location: Soi Lat Krabang 5, Lat Krabang, Bangkok 10520, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 8 am until late

    Phone: +66 (0)99 383 0304

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    photo by Jorge Láscar (CC BY 2.0) modified

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    Itsaraphap Lane

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    Itsaraphap Lane is a narrow, partially covered walking street which runs from the Chao Phraya River up to Leng Noi Yee Temple, the most important Chinese temple in Thailand. Along this street you will get a fascinating glimpse into everyday trading of all manner of dry goods: nuts, herbs, spices... and many more things you can only guess about!

    The most hectic stretch of Itsaraphap Lane is between Yaowarat and Leng Noi Yee Temple and is highly recommended. The cardboard cars, phones, and clothes are made especially for funerals so that family members might have them in the next life. For a great souvenir, we recommend buying some tea from around here.

    Location: Soi Itsaraphap, Samre, Thon Buri, Bangkok 10600, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 9 am to 6 pm

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    7

    Balanna Plaza

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    Balanna Plaza is neatly tucked in Samepeng Lane and is solely dedicated to shoes. Brands such as Nike, Converse, Vans and Campus can be picked up here for a fraction of the 'normal' price and there is the wholesale option too.

    Other styles of shoes include ladies' sandals and flip-flops. Bartering is common, especially if you intend to buy several items. Do beware of fakes, though.

    Location: 386-389 Soi Wanit 1, Samphanthawong, Bangkok 10100, Thailand

    Open: Monday–Saturday from 4 am to 6 pm, closed on Sundays

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    8

    Hua Seng Heng

    • Shoppers

    There's no better place to buy gold in Bangkok other than Yaowarat Road, and one of the best options along this road is Hua Seng Heng.

    This 50-year-old shop trades in high-quality gold ornaments believed to be 96.5% pure and has built up a reputation as a trustworthy gold dealer. It's worth noting that there are hundreds of gold shops along the main Yarowat Road and it's common practice to shop around for the best price. 

    Location: 401-407 Yaowarat Rd, Samphanthawong, Bangkok 10100, Thailand

    Open: Daily from 9.30 am to 5.30 pm

    Phone: +66 (0)2 225 0202

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    Paul Smith | Compulsive Traveller

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