Bangkok shopping malls are great places to escape the heat or rain – and you don’t even have to shop! Most complexes feature an array of kid-friendly attractions and indoor play spaces. Here are the highlights of the large malls on the Chidlom-Rajprasong-Rama 1 stretch (all easily accessible by BTS at Chidlom or Siam stations).
Central Chidlom is the grand dame of Bangkok’s shopping scene. This seven-storey department store features a simple layout amid a casual atmosphere. Each floor caters to different lifestyle needs – and with youngsters in tow, you’ll probably head for the sixth floor. Not only does this level offer children’s clothing, footwear and toys, it also stocks all kinds of baby products, from diapers to organic personal care items. The floor also houses Central Friendly Land, an indoor play space with a climbing frame, crafts table and coin-operated rides. Nearby, Central Bundit-Noi provides baby-sitting services in a separate room equipped with quality toys. Along with a supermarket and small food stall area on the ground floor, Central Chidlom boasts a variety of kid-friendly eateries, including the Food Loft, an upmarket food court on the seventh floor.
On 9 May 2014, Central Chidlom will be joined by Central Embassy, a luxury mall located on the former grounds of the British Embassy next door.
Amarin Plaza is often overlooked, but its top floor offers a variety of resources and activities for children. This includes a music school, dance studio and art classes. There are also language (English, Thai, Chinese and Japanese) and tutoring schools, as well as a Kumon math academy. Other highlights include an inexpensive (but good) food court with a variety of Asian cuisines, and a floor dedicated to Thai handicrafts, from silk products to house wares. For those who love bargains, Amarin Plaza is home to several outlet stores, including sportswear and footwear shops (sometimes with children’s sizes), as well as a clearance/promotional area on the ground floor foyer that can sell anything from clothing and luggage to art supplies and toys.
CentralWorld is a sprawling complex that offers almost everything under the sun, from designer clothing to gadgets, furniture and groceries. It also features a diverse range of restaurant and cafes, as well as two department stores, banks and mobile phone service outlets. Highlights for children include The Rink, a small ice skating rink outside the B2S store; a 15-screen SF World Cinema; Toys ‘R’ Us; and Asia Books, which has a kids’ corner. The sixth floor Genius Planet Zone provides a number of music, art and learning resources. There is also an open play area for younger kids to release pent-up energy, as well as a small train that encircles the floor, extending free rides for those who present a receipt of at least 500 baht. On the eighth floor, Thailand Knowledge Park (TK Park) offers a library with English titles, as well as an impressive range of multimedia resources, for kids of all ages.
Siam Paragon is another huge shopping complex with luxury fashion labels, well-known clothing brands and high-end boutiques. The ground floor contains fine restaurants, cafes, fast food outlets, a food court and a well-stocked supermarket. Children will enjoy Siam Ocean World, one of Southeast Asia’s largest aquariums; as well as Kidzania, the latest in ‘edutainment’, where kids aged four to 15 can explore a faux town (no parents allowed!) through a range of realistic experiences that encompass over 80 different jobs. In addition, older kids and teens will appreciate the multiple-screen Paragon Cineplex, which includes an IMAX theatre; and the Blue-O Rhythm and Bowl cosmic-themed bowling alley. Other resources include music, dance, martial arts and language schools, among others, on Levels 4 and 4AF.
For over three decades, Siam Center has been the hip hangout for teens and young adults. And after undergoing an extensive makeover in 2013, Siam Center remains the nucleus for cutting edge fashion and design, housing international brands such as Forever 21, Sephora, Steve Madden and SuperDry, as well as a host of Thai designer labels. The shopping centre exudes a quirky futuristic vibe, replete with unconventional lighting, techno music and an electronic piano key stairway (which little ones will love!). The top floor contains plenty of kid-friendly food choices, from chain restaurants to specialty dessert cafes. Located next door, Siam Discovery offers more international designer shops, as well as Ice Planet skating rink and Madame Tussauds wax museum.
While not as glitzy as its neighbours, the massive MBK Centre is an immensely popular destination for teens, young adults and tourists. Here, 2,000 or so shops offer everything from casual clothing to ballet outfits and mobile phone accessories. The top floors house an enormous food court with good Thai and international fare, as well as an entertainment complex with cinemas, a bowling alley, karaoke facilities and a computer game arcade. For a break from MBK’s crowds, check out the current exhibits in the adjoining Bangkok Art and Cultural Centre (BACC).