Thursday, January 28, 2010

Shopping Up a Storm in Pattaya

In Pattaya one of the best things you can do practically 24hrs a day is shop! The city caters to all tastes and budgets and never fails to offer that perfect souvenir, gift or personal memento. Here we list for you some of the biggest and brightest of the bunch.  

CentralFestival Pattaya Beach is the city’s newest kid on the block. This mega seven-storey shopping mall is located next door to the Siam Bayview Hotel in the centre of Beach Road. Opened just 12 months ago in January 2009, it’s Asia's largest beachfront shopping complex. Built on prime beachfront land over 220,000 m², this 7-billion-Baht megaproject features more than 200 fashion outlets and boutiques (such as Top Shop, MNG, Esprit, Miss Selfride), countless restaurants (Sizzler, A&W, The Pizza Company, Starbucks, Swensen’s), a Central Food Court, international supermarket, fitness centre and spa, large SFX cinema (with 10 screens), bowling alley and more.

Down the road about a km you’ll find the old Royal Garden Plaza shopping mall. This place is well known as a family oriented retail and entertainment destination, equally popular with Thai and foreign tourists. The small complex is home to many national and internationally recognised brands including Guess, Esprit, Timberland, Swarovski, Boots, Asia Books and CD warehouse, not to mention Thailand’s most common food chains: McDonalds, Sizzler, Swensen's and The Pizza Company. Besides that, the site’s main draw card is the world renowned Ripley's Believe It or Not! on the top level. This is where kids young and old come to marvel at persons and feats of daring that boggle the mind.

The Avenue is a centre for lifestyle and entertainment in a space of 40,000 square meters on Pattaya 2nd Road. The project was designed by a team of architects, from Contour Company, who put emphasis on bright and airy buildings, highlighting a large walkway which connects each shop. Notable shops include Starbucks and an Apple Store. At night the space comes alive with a bubbly night market selling clothes, brick-a-back, accessories and so on.

Mike Shopping Mall, located between CentralFestival and Royal Garden, commands a prime location in the heart of the city. There are over 200 shops here with decent prices. This is truly a shopper’s paradise for all tourists and local people alike. You might have to fight your way through a gauntlet of tour buses and then a hoard of Taiwanese tourist, but once in you’ll have limitless opportunities to spend, spend, spend! Supposedly the price for expats, tourists and Thai is same, but I have my doubts and suggest you haggle hard. On offer are knock-off bags, watches, clothing, accessories, beach paraphernalia and so on; the perfect place to pick up holiday souvenirs and presents.

Tesco Lotus is related to the Tesco retail chain based in the U.K. It is the leading retailer of consumer goods in Thailand, with a network of stores and hypermarkets throughout the country. A great place to pick up sporting equipment, household good, basic clothing, cosmetics and IT equipment.

Big C Supercenter emerged with a new concept for retail business under the theme "super center", which means the stores main focus is food and non-food items. It is simply a combination of discount store and food outlets that provide utmost customer satisfaction and quality products at very low everyday prices under one convenient roof. I good place to browse if you need foodstuffs or are just interested in seeing what the locals like to shop for.

Another new (2009) entertainment area in Pattaya is the Pattaya City Walk. This is a wide lane between Beach Rd and Second Rd. Inside the lane are small shops, an open air entertainment area, a hotel and restaurants. Over the Beach Rd entrance hangs this large and colourful sign inviting in people passing by... Not a bad spot for a leisurely evening stroll, window shop, cooling beverage and spot of people watching (always a worthwhile pursuit in this part of the world!).

Last, but not least, a little ways (about 5km) out of town can be found the Outlet Village, stocking brands like Adidas, Esprit, Callaway, Nike and a slew of local and international gold brands. Worth the trek out if you’re in the market for genuine designer threads and would appreciate a modest discount. That said, discounts can get over 50% during the Thailand’s annual Sale Season.


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