Our first edition of The Face Off, we battled it out to determine which of these two is the preferred shopping haven of South East Asia. We paired our beloved shopping capital Bangkok with the land of pho, Ho Chi Minh City where the shops and bargains may surprise you.
Down-to-earth local glamour, Chatuchak weekend market is a shoppers’ haven with 27 sections and more than 10,000 booths to boast. Its vast selection include clothes, books, antiques and even pets. This open market is open on Fridays from 6pm – 12am and weekends from 9am – 6pm.
When Chatuchak closes at 6pm, one can head over next door to the JJ Green market for a taste of street food and unique vintage finds. The newer hipster-like market is the Artbox Market where pop-up stores and eateries are hosted in recycled shipping containers. Young hip locals frequent here for the spoilt-for-choice of streetwear brands and accessories.
Siam Central Station is a supreme shopping district for department store buffs with some of Thailand’s biggest malls. It is a gateway to stunningly designed malls Siam Paragon and Siam Discovery for people with hefty purses. Budget shopping can be done in an indoor market like MBK Center with over 2000 shops for fashion, IT gadgets and food. The largest wholesale mall in Bangkok is Platinum Fashion Mall where you can get tops and skirts for as low as RM20.
Shopping for local brands is made easy at Siam Centre that hosts various homegrown labels. PEDZ is a one-of-a-kind artistic fashion label which prints hand-painted art on their street clothes. Also, there is the La jewelry brand with their trademark raindrop inspiration that has real water inside the accessory.
Pak Khlong Talat is an escapade from worldly things as the place flourishes with thousands of colourful flowers and farm harvests. It is open for 24 hours if you want to purchase a bouquet or take some photos.
Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
The most notable market has to be Ben Thanh in the heart of District 1. Walk through the narrow pathways to find everything under one roof from bags to shoes to Vietnamese souvenirs.
Fabrics of all patterns and colours are the attraction once you enter the main entrance. The ladies selling them also offer express tailoring services that can be done within 24 hours.
On the weekends, the road outside of Ben Thanh is transformed into a lively night market with a mix of clothes and food. Souvenirs from the inside vendors of Ben Thanh and some independent ones sell knick knacks to remind you of the lovely country.
For the mall rats that are looking for fast fashion brands and designer wear can enter the biggest shopping mall in the city, Vincom Center. Vincom Center A (or Union Square) is a French colonial building with top luxury brands while Vincom Center B across the street is a glass skyscraper that features more popular fashion brands.
Saigon Square is a wholesale mall selling mainly clothes, jackets and bags, a great place to buy good quality Vietnamese made garments.
Dressing like the locals is easy and Ho Chi Minh City has an impressive and passionate streetwear culture. Old decaying flats have been transformed into Insta-worthy shops filled with local street brands like Play Dirty and Lider located at the old building of 42, Ton That Thiep road.
Soai Kinh Lam Fabric Street is the place for fabric that are on the cheaper side compared to the commercial Ben Thanh market. Many shops sell it wholesale so getting a cheaper price is better if you are buying more than just a couple of meters or yards.
Words by Aishah Azali and Jessy Wong