A budget mall in the heart of Bangkok
MBK Center is an iconic budget shopping mall standing in the heart of Bangkok since 1985, best known for its bazaar product and tons of knock off goods. The location at the top of the ‘shopping mile’ in Siam district makes it very convenient to access and with more than 2,000 shops and stalls, the size is simply enormous. While its neighbours Siam Discovery, Siam Center, Siam Paragon and CentralWorld seem to target the upper market, MBK has always kept the budget-conscious clientele in mind and feels a bit like an indoor market, with Air Con!
There are 7 floors, covering an immense surface. Some floors seem to be more dedicated to a range of products, but in fact, it is a bit ‘Same Same but Different’, and it is sometimes hard to orientate. If you like something, better buy it when you see it as you may never be able to find the shop again! At first, MBK seems to be overwhelming with choice, but ultimately you can expect to find tons of shoes, T-shirts, bags and phone accessories, and tourist souvenirs. The food court is fun and very Thai.
In case you were wondering where the name came from, MBK stands for Mahboonkrong, the names of developer’s parents: Mah and Boonkrong.
What to buy at MBK, floor by floor
Outside MBK, the front of the mall is frequently used for temporary events, street food market, bazaar or even Muay Thai Boxing match. It’s actually kind of fun.
On the 1st floor are the cheap clothing stalls, mostly addressing to tourists, selling those ever-popular elephant pants and Bangkok T-shirts, and tons of souvenirs for tourists. Kids’ clothing with the latest movie characters are all over the place!
Expect to find a lot of fake brand bags of various quality. We even found Goyard bags that looked pretty real.
A fun thing to watch is the very talented local painters drawing or painting surprisingly accurate reproductions from your photos for a very reasonable price.
In the south area, far from the BTS entrance, shops sell cameras, casual fashion, sports shoes. Of course, the franchise food ballet starts right there with McDonald’s, Hachiban Ramen, Coffee Club, Burger King, KFC, and many more.
The 2nd floor is mostly shared between jewellery and gold shops, luggage’s and fashion accessories, with a few mainstream brands like Levi’s outlet, and of course: more sports shoe shops. This used to be where you would buy thousand of computer games CDs but this time is long long gone.
MBK 3rd floor is a bit similar to the 2nd floor, with more gold shops, watches, tailors, and sports brands. The central area is an immense display of low-cost cosmetics, makeup accessories, and thousands of vitamin supplements.
Expect to find a lot of casual wear, short pants, caps, and T-shirts that all have the same exact cut and material, just with a different colour and a different logo printed on it.
The more south you go, the more it looks like a bazaar with lots of elephant pants and Muay Thai boxing shorts. This area is divided into ‘Sois’ (lanes), just like in markets and villages. This is where you’ll find the highest concentration of T-shirts and cheap batik clothing shops, as well as a lot of tailors. It’s huge, and it can take some time to explore until you realize they all sell the same things, more or less.
The 4th floor is ‘Mobile Phone’ madness! This floor used to be extremely popular at the peak of the mobile phone craze and DVD movies and games. You can find a lot of second-hand phones at a great prize, plus a million accessories. It’s also where you can find a huge amount of photo equipment and accessories, from the most simple gadget to some professional equipment. This is the floor where most Bangkok photographer would visit when searching for a specific piece of equipment. Unfortunately for those shops, buying online now offers a much more comprehensive range of products, but also a much much better price!
5th floor very empty, bit furniture, sound systems and accessories, lots of camera shops (higher level of quality, the one I used to go) Banks (south end)
The 6th floor is home to a very popular Food Court selling a surprisingly good Thai food and a vast range of Thai desserts and sweets. Of course, you will see more bags, teen accessories, and casual outfits, but the Craft Village at the south end is quite a nice place to buy Thai handicrafts and fabrics.
The 7th floor is for entertainment and food: SF Cinemas City, SF Strike Bowl, 2 arcade game centres and more than 20 restaurants, all from well-known franchises such as Chesters, Pizza Hut, Black Canyon, Coco Ichiban and MK Suki.
Tokyu Department Store
Tokyu is a Japanese department store connected to MBK covering 4 storeys. Just like the rest of MBK, it’s not upmarket and has nothing to compare to Tokyu Department Stores in Japan. It seems that most items are unsold articles from several years old fashion, which kinds of makes sense if they want to reach budget-conscious visitors.
More photos of MBK
MBK Center Bangkok Info
Address: 444 Phayathai Rd, Wang Mai, Pathum Wan District, Bangkok 10330
Call Center: 1285
Open: 10 am – 10 pm
BTS: National Stadium