Pratunam Market

Pratunam Market
Shop till you drop at Pratunam Market-Bangkok’s biggest apparel market.

Got clothes? Pratunam market in Bangkok does, and then some!

Pratunam Market is Bangkok’s wholesale apparel and accessory district. It’s a warren of confusing and endless alleys, back streets, and passageways crammed full of vendors hawking all sorts of clothing and accessories.

This market is open 7 days a week. People start trickling in around 6 a.m. By 11 a.m., especially on weekends, the place starts to get crowded. By afternoon it’s packed. The shopping continues until well after dark.

Although Pratunam Market is not a good place for buying fabrics, I wanted to include this unique venue in my “Thai Fabric Chronicles” because it’s the best market in all Thailand, both price-wise and selection, to buy apparel.

Pratunam is NOT a Tourist Marketย 

Pratunam Market
Pratunam Market is a maze-like warren of passageways.

The vast majority of shoppers at Pratunam are Thai. Thais shop this market because they get the best bang for their baht.

Shopkeepers from all over Thailand, Southeast Asia and as far away as Africa fly into Bangkok to stock their stores with goods found at this market. The deals are that good.

Oh sure, you’ll see farang (Western) tourists perusing the merchandise, but they’re far and few in comparison to the Thai shoppers.

Retail vs. Wholesale

Pratunam Market
The above sign reads: Each pair (of socks) is 20 baht. Six pairs for 100 baht. At the time of this post, the baht traded at 32 to the U.S. dollar. That means 1 pair cost 63 cents; 6 pair for $3.13 or 52 cents each! And maybe you can bargain an even better price.

Pratunam bills itself as a wholesale market. Wholesale here means buying 3 or more of something. But almost all the vendors will sell you items individually; you just pay slightly more.

Bargain Bargain Bargain

Bargaining at Pratunam Market
Some shopkeepers will bargain prices and some won’t. It never hurts to try. Either way, you’ll get a great price.

Bargaining prices is expected here, whether you’re buying wholesale or retail. So on top of the great deals you’ll see on the listed price, a vendor may well give you an additional 10-30% off that price.

Finding The Market

Baiyoke Sky Hotel
The rear view of the Baiyoke Sky Hotel and to its left is the Baiyoke condo building. The bottom of the photo is where Pratunam Market begins. This photo was taken from the 23rd floor of the Amari Watergate Hotel, which is right in the middle of Pratunam Market.

Easy peasy. The Market is located in central Bangkok, right in back of the Baiyoke Sky Hotel, the 2nd tallest skyscraper in Bangkok. It’s not far from the National Palace or Kao San Road.

Pratunam Market is more of an amorphous location than it is a specific address. You can hop into any taxi or tuk-tuk and just say Pratunam Market. You can also arrive by sky train (Get off at Chit Lhom station) or hop on the Saen Saep Canal Express Boat and get off at the Pratunam stop. Again, just look up and see towering above you the Baiyoke Skyscraper and head for the back area of this building.

The market itself is home to over 1200 or more independent shops that ooze over an area of an entire city block. It would take you a full day to navigate the entirety of this confusing shopping maze, even if you knew it like the back of your hand.

Let’s Go Shopping-Follow Me

Here’s a series of snapshots I took that will start to give you an idea of the merchandise, and prices you’ll find at the market, not to mention its hustle-bustle shopping ambiance.

Shopping at Pratunam Market
150 baht is about $4.70 (US) I bet you could bargain that price lower.
Purses at Pratunam Market
Purses for 200 baht ($6.25 U.S.) No, it’s not Hermes, but the price also isn’t $625 (US)
Earrings at Pratunam Market
Where else will you find McDonald French Fry earrings? (see white arrow above) If you wear these, does that mean you love to have your ears nibbled on?
Shorts at Pratunam Market
Distressed short shorts for little more than $3/pair (US)
Food at Pratunam Market
Food vendors are sprinkled throughout the market. I have no idea by what is meant by “No Branch in Singapore”. I was going to ask this guy what that means, but he looked so intimidating that I just took this photo and hurried off.
Pratunam Market
Human hair for sale
Boho Hip at Pratunam Market
A shop specializing in “boho” style apparel.
Pratunam Market
Remember: Pratunam is not a tourist market. It’s where the locals shop.
Wholesale at Pratunam Market
Although the sign reads 150 baht each for three, I bet the vendor would sell you just one for a slightly higher price. I felt the fabric and it felt like a decent blended cotton fabric.
Menswear at Pratunam
Roughly 75% of the market’s vendors sell women’s apparel/accessories, but you can still find a decent selection of stuff for the guys.
Pratunam Market
Luv it! I wish my Thai wife Jenny was into belly dancing.

The Platinum Fashion Mall

The Platinum Fashion Mall
The locals consider the Platinum Fashion Mall as an extension of Pratunam Market area.

Right across from Pratunam Market on Ratchaprarop Rd. is the Platinum Fashion Mall. (www.platinumfashionmall.com) Because of its proximity, The Platinum Fashion Mall is generally considered part of the Pratunam Market milieu.

The game’s the same at Platinum as it is at Pratunam Market: Wholesale/retail with great prices. For wholesale customers, Platinum has the resources to arrange for shipping your merchandise anywhere in the world.

Platinum Fashion Mall
The merchandise is well presented at Platinum.

It’s not so much a mall as it is a huge building with 5 floors housing about 2,000 small stores. The 6th floor is a large food court. Platinum is a very busy shopping mall, especially on weekends. Locals shop here. Bargaining is always a possibility.

Platinum is open everyday from 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.

Platinum Fashion Mall
It’s a little easier to shop at Platinum than across the street at Pratunam. The prices at Platinum are competitive with Pratunam Market.

The merchandise here is better organized than at Pratunam with each floor specializing in different types of apparel or accessories. The presentation of the merchandise is also better. But the biggest difference from Pratunam Market is that Platinum is air conditioned.

Platinum Fashion Mall
Watches for just over $3 (U.S.)
The food court at Platinum Fashion Mall
The Food Court on the 6th Floor

Value Apparel: The Quality/Cost Relationship

Pratunam Market
Stitching is often the best indicator of the quality of apparel.

Are these cheap clothes found at Platinum and Pratunam Market really a good deal? (Is paying $5K for an Armani suit on Rodeo Dr. a good deal? It’s really the same question.)

Let me put my fabric expertise to work for you. (If you haven’t perused my “Thai Fabric Chronicles” I really encourage you to do so if you’re at all interested in Thai fabrics.)

I looked very closely at the fabrics used to make the apparel found at both Pratunam and Platinum. Much of the apparel has no tags, which isn’t surprising, and so a consumer is left wondering where this clothing was made and what kind of fabric was used.

Wig making at Pratunam market
Wig making at Pratunam Market

I’m fairly confident that much if not most of the fabrics are from India and China, especially India. I’ve seen very similar fabrics before at Chiang Mai fabric wholesalers and I know the owners who tell me where they get their fabrics. Also many of the fabric designs are very “Indian” in nature.

While these fabrics are not the finest textiles, they can still be quality fabrics and the apparel made from them can be a great value. Many of the fabrics had the feel of cotton and I’m fairly certain that while they may not be 100% cotton, they were a legitimate cotton blended fabric.

For most apparel found at Platinum and Pratunam, the construction and stitching was professional, done with professional sewing machines.

Where was all this apparel made? Probably not China, as they have their own discount methods and don’t need to export (dump is the pejorative term) to Thailand wholesale finished apparel. I’m fairly certain that the manufacturing of all this apparel was primarily in India, Bangladesh, Viet Nam, and maybe Cambodia. I’m confident that very little was manufactured in Thailand.

Cowboy hats at Pratunam Market
No, they’re not Stetsons. But as I say, if the hat fits, wear it!

Be that as it may, the apparel found at Pratunam and Platinum is often an excellent value. Sometimes it was even a screaming deal! But buyer beware. Look closely at the construction and stitching before buying. Is it professional? (Stitch lines straight? Hems well made and secured? Double stitched?)

Value in apparel is a combination of quality and price. You will find great value at both Pratunam Market and Platinum Fashion Mall. Happy Shopping.

 

 

 

 

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