When you think of Bangkok, you automatically think “shopping!” because it is the destination to buy all kinds of things such as Khmer antiques, Thai antiques, handicrafts, clothes, artworks, jewelry, etc.
Out of all the other top Asian tourist destinations, Bangkok comes out number one for shopping thanks to its wide selection of malls, boutiques, markets and stalls. Plus, the people are friendly and welcoming to foreigners! The vendors love to bargain with buyers and this makes the experience more exciting. You can get bargain prices for quality goods in Bangkok.
Shoppers who visit Bangkok will find a wealth of goods to buy. Some of these shoppers look for antiques, particularly Khmer antiques. There are many stores and places to buy all kinds of antiques that come from all over Asia in Bangkok. There are also authentic Thai antiques. Though these items are hot selling items in the market, there is an export ban on particular pieces like religious relics.
For instance, the Buddha statues, images and other artifacts are often banned from export. If you want to buy Khmer antiques and bring it to another country, you need to go to a legitimate antique store and acquire an export license. That way, you can pass through customs without hassle. Reputable dealers will tell you about the needed documents and restrictions.
Here are some places you can check out if you want to go shopping for Khmer antiques and other antiques as well:
Chan’s Antique House – This is one of the oldest antique stores in Phuket. They have been in business ever since antiques began to be established in the Thai market. This store is often frequented by serious buyers of Khmer antique, Thai antiques and other antiques from Laos, Burma, etc. It has good reputation and is still standing after more than fifteen years of success in the antique business. The items are of quality craftsmanship and skill. There are many collections of antiques made of bronze, wood, stone and marble at this shop.
The Fine Orient – This antique store specializes in vintage items, collector’s items and Oriental antiques. There are key pieces mostly from China but there are also Khmer antiques, Thai antiques and the like.
In Bangkok, you will find many other stores to buy antiques. If you go to legitimate and
reputable dealers, they will tell you which ones are authentic and which ones are reproductions of Khmer antiques, Thai antiques and other antiques being sold.
Benjarong is a special type of porcelain originating from Thailand. It is basically painted porcelain and it has a combination of at least three to eight colors. “Benjarong” means “five colors”. This is one of the rarest and most authentic Thai ceramics that are highly sought after today. The traditional ones are now valued antiques! The designs are quite intricate.
Normally, one will see geometric designs and floral designs that are often, repetitive on a Benjarong. The Benjarong design is then named after the color that was used as background. For instance, Thai ceramics (Benjarong type) that has a dark blue background is called “Phum Kao Bin”.
The production of these porcelain antiques is a most thorough and intense process. First, the enamel colors are painted on the porcelain. The background is first set and followed by the combination of other colors to create a unique, Thai design. These Thai ceramics are then glazed over to create a distinctive “swelling effect” on the surface.
The process of production of these porcelain antiques requires intensive labor. Each of these colors is applied intricately. Every piece is fired by kiln once the color has been applied. The method of firing up the Thai ceramics makes the vibrancy of the colors. The effect is a beautiful finishing that marks authentic Thai artistry. Gold is also a popular material used to paint porcelain.
Benjarong is among the most vibrant and decorative Thai ceramics made of porcelain.
Porcelain starts out as white in color and then it is heated in high intensity. After that, the geometric patterns, floral designs and other intricacies are painted on the porcelain.
The Thais handle it carefully and immediately place the piece into the fire once the paint has been applied. Traditionally, only five bright colors are used when making the beautiful Thai ceramics: Benjarong.
Nowadays, Thais still produce this type of handicraft but the colors range from three to eight. Modern designs are the ones that usually have the gold trimming. “Benjarong” is a general term that can be applied to handicrafts; they are ceramic by nature and include cups, vases, plates and other kinds of tableware.
Collectors and those who are interested in buying Thai ceramics usually look for the Benjarong antiques and coffee sets, old tea sets, bowl sets and urns. There are many places in Bangkok where you can find antiques like these in Chatuchak Market, Narayanaphand and the Buran Benjarong Factory.
Built in 1908, OP Place is really a historic showpiece in itself with added classic style like its Neoclassic architecture and the manually operated lift. The complex has several storeys of art galleries and stores offering superb antiques of all shapes and forms.
Enthusiasts of unique crafts and other collectibles will likely be amazed because of the large collection of Asian handicrafts, antiques, carpets, jewelry, fabrics, artwork, and Thai silk.
Situated next to The Oriental Hotel, OP Place also has a third floor that is a floor dedicated to The Ashwood Gallery which is an attractively arranged gallery of antique arts, crafts as well as furniture. It’s very well laid out and is essential for antique enthusiasts or just people who want to own an item of some excellent Asian heritage.
The OP Place Asian Heritage Centre has been very well designed and oozes the feeling that everything must be expensive which is normally the case. There’s car parking but there aren’t a large number of spaces available. On the other hand, it is possible to park in the Oriental Hotel’s car park which costs 40 Baht an hour.
Like with all antique shopping you have to know what you’re doing. Having said that, there are many very nice items on display and if you like Oriental furniture and items of art, OP Place will surely not dissapoint you.
If you keep walking around this area you’ll find an array of jewelry stores as well as shops dedicated to foreign trade. There are some good deals on offer if you look hard enough. A branch of Chitralada shop, a project initiated by Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, can also be found here.
Opening Hours: 10:30 – 18:30
Location: 30/1 Soi Charoen Krung 38 (behind the Oriental Hotel)
BTS: Saphan Taksin
Tel: +66 (0)2 266 0186
The antique shopping mall opened in l984 and was the very first riverside shopping complex of this type in Bangkok. With more than 47,000 sqm of space along with a approximately 200 retail stores spread over 4 floors, the mall offers a wide array of shopping possibilities.
The main objective of the River City mall is on Thai national articles like antiques and art. There are standard retail shops here as well. The mall furthermore hosts numerous displays, functions, festivals and auctions all through the year.
Monthly auctions are held at the auditorium on the 4th floor the 1st Saturday of every month arranged by the Riverside Auction House Ltd.
The 1st and 2nd floors of the River City Shopping Complex have a multitude of silk shops, tailors, jewellers, art galleries, leather stores, gift shops and boutiques.
On the 3rd and 4th floors there are over a hundred art and antique stores having rare antiques like Buddha images, big blue and white vases, gold and silver ornaments, ceramics, porcelain, Thai benjarong items, art deco clocks and sculptures, elaborate wood designs and carvings and other fine art from all around South East Asia, China and even Europe. There are also quite a few independent art and antique shops on the premises.
An array of amenities and services assure River City’s shoppers as well as visitors their highest possible comfort and shopping enjoyment; a good amount of car parking spaces for in excess of five hundred cars, tourist information, 24-hour security, a walkway linking the Complex with the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel to name a few.
A free of charge taxi boat service transports people between River City and Sathorn Pier. Direct boat services also link the River City Shopping Complex with the Oriental Hotel, the Shangri-la, the Peninsula, the Millennium Hilton as well as the Royal River Hotel.
The River City’s Boat Tour Centre set up in 1990 offers services of river and canal tours, dinner cruises along with a luxury cruise to Ayutthaya leaving from its very own pier.
Opening Hours: 10:00 – 20:00
Location: 23 Trok Rongnamkhaeng, Charoen Krung 30 (next to the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel)
Tel: +66 (0)2 237 0077-8
How to get there: Take the Sky Train to Saphan Taksin Station. There’s a free shuttle boat service to the River City available at Sathorn Pier everyday from 10:00 to 20:00.