If you’re wondering wat to do next (these puns just never stop being funny), and need a break from temples, grab a cab over to the MBK Shopping Complex. (Do not walk. The walk ain’t pretty – unless you have a particular fetish for automotive and appliance repair shops). This is a huge AC shopping mall which is sort of a cross between any huge American shopping mall and a Thai bazaar. There is a floor dedicated to jewelry stores (with amazingly low prices on 22K gold jewelry), clothing, knick-knack, handicraft, etc. stores. When you get hungry, check out the food court on the top floor for some cheap eats, or the food court beside the supermarket on the first floor.
There is also a whole floor dedicated to cell phones and cell phone paraphernalia. The top floor has a huge arcade on it, as well as a cheap movie theater with "VIP" seats that look more like lazyboys. Nice. Haggling is expected in the stores, but it wasn’t hardcore, or at least it wasn’t in the real stores. The kiosk vendors were more desperate for sales and the prices could be driven down substantially. There are a few Western chains, but there’s no deals to be had there – for example, Body Shop was about 20-30% more expensive then in the US.
If you get bored of the MBK Center, there are a few other shopping complexes that you can walk to from there – there’s a bunch of them clustered in this one area of the city. But from what we saw, MBK was the biggest and most interesting.
Thai Food Court How-To
Guestimate how much you want to spend at the food court. Walk up to the cashier and buy "coupons". You then exchange these for food at the individual serving stalls. When you’re done, you can exchange any remaining coupons back for cash.
Do not do what we did, which was mainly to stumble around looking lost. No one we could find spoke English and explain the system to us. So we assumed that it would work like a cafeteria back home: you get your plates, and bring it up to the cashier to pay.
Well, in typical overly generous Thai fashion, the food vendors gave us what we wanted without coupon payment, assuming we would eventually figure it out. Which we did, thanks to a nice Thai student who explained the whole thing to us in perfect English.