The sharper edge to traveling in Asia

Antiquities and Crafts Shopping in Bangkok

Written By: herbrunbridge - Jun• 04•10

Bangkok is one of the world’s meccas for antiquities, fine arts, and crafts shopping.  Here, you’ll find everything from age-old statuary to stunning tribal crafts, in venues ranging from the large to the out-of the way. 

Virtually every Bangkok visitor will have heard of the venerable Chatuchak weekend market, but for the buyer with a keen eye for quality, the hot, dusty, crowded environment of Chatuchak gets old, fast.  For a more relaxed, and cooler shopping experience, we suggest you try shopping on routes served by river taxi, the BTS skytrain line, or the MRT subway.  In these spots, you may pay slightly higher prices than you would at Chatuchak, but it may be a reasonable price to pay for the luxury of not bumping shoulders, knees, and elbows with thousands of others.  Don’t forget: bargaining is expected at every shop, whether upscale or down-market. 

Here are our favorite picks for Bangkok, divided between those easily found on BTS, and those found on the river. 

On the river: 

River City Shopping Complex (River City pier)

This four-story complex houses a decent selection of dealers in fine antiquities, interspersed with bronze kitsch shops.  Here you’ll find sculpture, crafts, jewelry, and everything in between.  The finest shops are located on floors two and three, and the owners are often connoisseurs, and informative. As with any antiquities buying experience in Asia, caveat emptor is the rule, as fakes abound everywhere.  It’s not uncommon for even the better shops to have recent recreations on the shelves as well.  The more honest dealers will tell you the difference up front, and educate the browser who’s willing to be schooled.   Bargaining in all shops is expected. River City is actually in two parts, the four story complex, and an arcade on the east side of the building, accessible through a door on the ground floor.  

Two of our favorite shops were Asia Art on the second floor (managed by Kee, who’s been in the business for thirty years), and Beyond the Masks (floor three), where hostess Mae will offer a wide range of exquisite old tribal goods.  

To get there:  River City is located immediately north of the Royal Orchid Sheraton.  From the BTS Saphan Taksin station, walk to the Sathorn Pier, then take  the free River City shuttle boat, which run every 15 minutes in each direction, and drops you right at River City.   You may also take the standard river ferry to the Tha Si Phraya (#3) pier.  After disembarking, walk to the end of the alley, turn left, and River City is just beyond the Sheraton, a two-minute walk from the pier. 

Oriental ferry pier

 O.P. Place (formerly known as Oriental Place) is housed in a charming three story colonial building, around the corner from the Oriental Hotel.  Though not as comprehensive as the offerings at River City, there are a number of decent shops here, well worth a look. To get there: O.P. is best accessed from the Oriental Pier.  Upon exiting the pier, pass the Oriental Hotel on your left.  Walk down the first left alley, then turn right on the next soi.  O.P. Place will be right in front of you, in the white, colonial building.

Oriental Arcade, at the Oriental Hotel has a small arcade with boutique shops, on the right-hand side of the parking lot.  Aside from some nice jewelry at the Private Collection shop, we didn’t note anything exceptional. 

Arisra Gallery, 6-8 Oriental Avenue, Charoenkrung Soi 40, tel: (02) 630-6131.  Arisra has some very good Burmese and Thai Buddha images, as well as various Khmer statues and architectural elements.  To get here, proceed east from the pier (you’ll be on Soi 40).  The shop is on the left, before you reach Charoenkrung. 

Rama Art Gallery, 1238/1 Charoenkrung Road (at Soi 36), tel: 02-2333330.  In business for 30 years, the highlight of this antiquities shop is an exquisite collection of silver jewelry and craft items from the Chinese Hmong tribal area.  There are some good pieces of antique furniture on the second floor.  To get here, proceed east from the pier, then turn left onto Charoenkrung Road. 

On the BTS Skytrain line

 Sukhumvit Line 

Chit Lom station

King Antiques, 985-989 Ploenchit Road,  tel: (02) 655-1001 
This old store has been in the same hands for four generations, and packs about as much into two stories as possible.  There is a tremendous number of good and interesting items to be found here, and we think you’d be well-served, after looking at River City, to come here to comparison shop.  Prices here are, after negotiation, bound to be a bit higher than those at River City, and you will not be able to walk across the hallway, as you can at RC, to signal your intent to find a better bargain.  Here, though, you won’t have as many others interested in the same item as you.  You may find Judy easier to work with here than either Mr. or Mrs. King.   All-in-all, this is a “can’t miss” store, one with character and a colorful owner to match.  Open Monday-Saturday, 9 am – 7 pm. 

To get here:  Get off at Chit Lom BTS.  King Antiques is on the east side of the street, roughly between the Gaysorn and Central shopping complexes. GPS: N13°44.650’  E100°32.575’ 

Nana Station 

Thai Isekyu, 1/16 Sukhumvit Soi 10, tel:  (02) 252-2509
Benjarong pottery was introduced from China 200 years ago, and consists of brightly painted, multi-colored enamels, depicting representational scenes and recurring geometrical motifs.  You can buy this work at many places, including Narai Phand, but here, in this small shop that’s been here for years, you can watch the skillful painters at work. GPS: N13°44.307’  E100°33.439’ 

Ploen Chit Station

 My Collection, 2/10 Wireless Road,  tel: (02) 655-7502
This shop is located upstairs from a comfortable café, and features antique and reproduction Thai and Burmese arts and artifacts. GPS: N13°44.760’   E100°32.875’  

Asok Station 

Paul’s Antiques, 41 Sukhumvit Soi 19,  tel: (02) 651-0032
OK, so you didn’t come to Bangkok to buy colonial Burmese and Thai furniture, but hidden behind Robinson’s department store, off the Asok BTS station, is a charming old Bangkok house filled with traditional wooden furniture.  The house is wooden, with beautiful, classic Thai 20th century details, and has not been modernized.  Although sturdy, the house moves when you’re on the upper story, as befits a building using traditional wooden joinery techniques.  This is a jewel, and the owner, Sert Srithongsuk, and his friendly Great Dane “Tucker”, are as engaging as can be.  To get there: forget the address, which frankly, isn’t much help.  Instead, go to the Asok BTS Skytrain station, exit into the street, and walk up Soi 19 until you see the pet food store on the first left corner you reach.  Take a left at the pet food store and walk down the alley.  Paul’s is down a driveway, immediately before you see the Korean restaurant sign. GPS: N13°44.435’  E100°33.561’ 

Additional note: The Old Dutch Restaurant, on the corner of Soi 23 and Soi Cowboy, is a hoot, with a hilarious menu written by an obviously demented Dutchman.  It’s a neat, cozy place with good western and Thai food, but bring cash, as no credit cards are accepted. GPS:  13°44.202’  E100°33.779’

 Phrom Pong Station

 Rasi Sayam , 82 Sukhumvit Soi 33, tel:  (02) 262-0729
Owner Thareena Laohaphat has compiled a good collection of woven textiles, crafty housewares, and unusual household items.  Our favorites included magnificent woven flat baskets.  To get there: exit the skytrain station (or MRT subway) on the north side of Sukhumvit, heading westerly. Turn right on Soi 33.  Go up three, streets, turn right, and Rasi is at the end of the soi, on your left. 

Silom line 

Sala Daeng

Peng Seng Antiques, corner Rama IV and Thanon Surawong, tel:  (02) 234-1285
Located on the corner of Surawong and Rama IV, has been in business for 40 years.  Their strength is beautifully carved wooden Buddha figures, their weakness is a  diffident staff.  Bring your own sanuk, you might not find much here.  Worth a look, nevertheless. To get there: walk north on Thaniya from the BTS station, turn right on Surawong, go past Jim Thompson’s office on your right, and you’re there.  For an extra bonus, as you leave Peng Seng, continue around the block to the BTS station on Silom, and you’ll pass a McDonald’s, with Ronald McDonald in the “wai-ing” position. GPS:  N13°43.862’  E100°31.989’ 

Chong Nonsi

 De Siam (formerly known as “Kalae”), 154/289 Silom Road, tel:  (02) 635-7739
This small shop has an assortment of Burmese and Thai antiquities and crafts, and helpful personnel. To get there: use the northwest exit at the BTS station, then walk north, and cross Silom Road, your first major intersection.  Walk left after crossing the road.  It’s located next to the Shangrila Chinese Restaurant. GPS:  N13°43.581’  E100°31.636’ 

Macassar, 717/1-2 Silom Road, tel:  (02) 635-0775
This well laid-out shop has a magnificent range of furnishings and crafts from Thailand, Burma, and China, and the staff is incredibly friendly and helpful.  There are a decent number of old things for under $15 USD. To get there:  The shop is located at, on the south side of the street, at the corner of Soi 13. GPS: N13°43.484’  E100°31.446′ 

Elephant House, 289/69-71 Soi Pattana, Surawong Road, tel:  (02) 233-6973
This shop caters mainly to Bangkok-based expats looking to buy traditional Thai and Burmese home furnishings.  Prices are on the high side. To get there:  Begin on the north side of Silom, then proceed north on Soi 22.  When you reach Thanon Surawong, cross the street, and proceed west to Soi Pattana.  Turn right on Soi Pattana, and you’ll find Elephant House on your left, 30 seconds or so up the soi.  

Various shops along Silom Road

 Along Silom, from the BTS Sala Daeng station at Rama IV, and pocking west to Thanon Surasak, there are many shops selling a variety of crafts and antiquities.  Some of these have decent merchandise, but many sell kitschy bronze sculptures (including life-size Playboy bunnies with serving trays) and trinkets you’d find at any shop in Bangkok.  You’ll also encounter Silom Village, a mall fronted by a restaurant and flanked by a small hotel, which houses a dozen or so shops dealing in everything from crafts, to trinkets, to clothing. 

 We’d suggest this walk only if you have lots of time to spare. 


Silom Galleria 
This large emporium is a competitor to River City, and consists of two adjoining towers.  While jewelry and gems are the mainstay of the north tower, people in search of antiquities will find the south tower more appropriate.  Because Silom Galleria charges less for rent than does River City, you’ll find many smaller dealers here, and quality is, in the best shops, comparable to that in River City.  One of our favorite shops is EtniKa, with a good selection of items from Thailand and India.  Owner Saifon Theerathat is friendly and enthusiastic about her collection, which she also wholesales to other dealers (02-630-1819). To get there:  From the BTS station, take the northeast exit, then turn right on Thanon Surasak, the first major intersection.  In roughly two minutes, you’ll see a large parking lot with tour buses on your right.  Beyond the parking lot, you’ll see the entrance to the south tower of Silom Galleria. 

On the MRT subway

Suan Lum Night Bazaar

We like Suan Lum because, although extensive (3,700 stalls), it’s less crowded that Chatuchak, and better laid-out.  Prices will be slightly higher here, but there are airy restaurants, and the atmosphere is relaxed.  We recommend looking at Maem Yong’s shop, offering good Burmese antiquities, at Zone C-55.   It’s located at the corner of Wireless Road and Rama IV, and directly across the street (to the west) of the new Lumphini MRT subway station.

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