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While Bangkok might be better known for its super-sized, awe-inspiring shopping malls – set in ever-taller skyscrapers and carrying just about every kind of product known to humankind – recent years have also seen the emergence of community malls across the Thai capital.
These lower-key, often-air shopping centres are designed to serve the neighbourhoods in which they operate in an altogether more personable, approachable way than the mega-malls can ever hope (or indeed want) to. Here’s a run-down of some of our favourite community malls in Bangkok.
Open since late 2015, The Commons is perhaps Bangkok’s hippest and most happening community mall. This Thonglor operation is all about the food, with a congregation of some of Bangkok’s biggest restaurant names coming together in a project spearheaded by coffee and brunch specialists Roast.
Other joints include Soul Food 555 (of Soul Food Mahanakorn fame), Peppina pizzeria, and craft beer base The Beer Cap and cocktail bar Track 17. There are on-trend communal dining areas and, food aside, plenty of boutique-style retail outlets, family-friendly green play areas, and regular workshops, live music sets, and other community gatherings.
Daily, 8am-1am; Thonglor Soi 17 (BTS Thonglor); 02-712-5400; www.thecommonsbkk.com
Eco-friendly, low-energy Rain Hill is a relative stalwart on the Bangkok community mall scene, with five floors of vertical gardens and open-air shopping and dining in the Phrom Phong/Thonglor neighbourhood.
Most visible from the street is the large branch of wine bar and restaurant Wine Connection (complete with in-house wine store). But Rain Hill also packs in a number of other international restaurants, a HOBS beer bar, and independent boutiques focussed primarily on fashion – plus everyday essentials like banks and a supermarket. There’s a particular tendency towards Japanese-inspired goods at Rain Hill’s retail outlets, unsurprising given the high concentration of Japanese families living in the area.
Daily, 10am-10pm; Sukhumvit Road (BTS Phrom Phong); 02-260-7447; www.rainhill47.com
Though it’s arguably failed to make the same waves as The Commons, 72 Courtyard – which is also set in Thonglor, and which got going around the same time – is nonetheless a similarly high-end community mall that’s almost entirely centred around restaurants and bars rather than shops. As much as anything else, it’s another of those trendy spots to see and be seen.
Tuck into tapas at the Bangkok outpost of renowned US restaurant Toro, or feast on Mexican nosh and no-nonsense cocktails at Touche Hombre, before heading to house and techno venue Beam – there’s little denying that having a serious in-house nightclub sets 72 Courtyard apart from the competition as a truly nightlife-first community mall.
Daily, 7am-2am; Sukhumvit Soi 55 (BTS Thonglor); 02-392-7999; www.72courtyard.com
Wedged between the mighty Chaophraya River and Bangkok’s infamous 24-hour flower market (home to Expique’s very own market-based workshops, tours and cooking classes at The Market Experience) is the low-rise, heritage-inspired Yodpiman River Walk lifestyle mall.
The mall itself is the result of extensive, impressive renovations to an old market building, and these days Yodpiman River Walk takes an open-air approach to making the most of those stunning river views and breezes, perhaps best appreciated from one of the on-site Thai or international restaurants. While chains like KFC and Starbucks feel less in line with the lifestyle and community mall concept, the likes of Mango Tree on the River serve up traditional and fusion Thai dishes alongside sweeping vistas.
Yodpiman River Walk also boasts a variety of retail outlets, from everyday chains like Boots to more unique and boutique offerings. In addition, take a closer look at the walls around the mall and you’ll find artistic insights to Thailand’s historical Ayutthaya era, part of the inspiration for Yodpiman’s design.
Daily, 11.30am-11pm; Chakphet Road (Yodpiman river boat pier); 02-623-6851; www.yodpimanriverwalk.com
K Village has been open since 2010, and it’s arguably become one of Bangkok’s most well-known community malls. This partly open-air, pet-friendly shopping centre has a more extensive selection of retail outlets than many other community malls elsewhere in the Thai capital, from local boutique stores to world-renowned chains.
But K Village is particularly famous as a haunt for keen foodies, such is the variety it offers not just of restaurants but also of food stores. As well as high-end supermarkets offeing an enviable range of groceries from around the world – with Japanese and Korean produce figuring especially prominently, again thanks to the number of expats from those countries resident in the area – K Village plays host to a respected farmers’ market on the second weekend of every month.
Daily, 10am-10pm; Sukhumvit Soi 26 (BTS Phrom Phong); 02-258-9919; www.kvillagebangkok.com
At Expique, we’re experts at showing you the unique parts of Bangkok and elsewhere in Thailand that most tours don’t take you to – and which you probably won’t discover on your own. Joining one of our tours or experiences (or having us create a custom tour for you) is a great way to make the most of your time in Thailand and ensure you leave with a memorable experience.
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