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 Market
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 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 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
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.
The Platinum Fashion Mall
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.
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.
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.
Value Apparel: The Quality/Cost Relationship
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.
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.
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.