Spend an Entire Day Exploring MBK Center, One of Asia’s Largest Malls

MBK Center is So Much More than Just a Mall

The MBK Center in Bangkok, simply known locally as just MBK, is so much more than a shopping mall. This is a huge hub of shopping, food, entertainment and socializing. Expect to spend a lot longer than you’d expect to here, the bargains have a special power to draw you in.

Over 30 years ago MBK launched in Bangkok. At the time it was set up to be a shopping center and social hub, and the weekend markets were legendary. Nowadays the complex has sprawled and grown and it feels like it’s taken over an entire district of the city with its 89,000 square meters of space. It’s not a high fashion center like the nearby Siam malls but it has a unique draw to it for hoards of bargains and fun.

What’s at MBK Center?

Head into the ground floor and first you’ll notice the fresh, cooling aircon. That might well be reason enough for you to visit! Some days this place feels like heaven on earth as a respite from the unrelenting heat of the streets. Once you’re on the ground floor you’ll find yourself surrounded by lines and lines of stalls. Less formal than shops but more formal than an outdoor market, these stalls sell fashion items, shoes, handbags and the like.

Go above the ground floor and there isn’t really any strategy to shop placement. MBK seems to have majored on the organized chaos theme, with small pockets of similar shops mixed together with completely random different shops. This all adds to the fun of a visit to MBK as you never know what might be around the corner! Not so great if you’re heading for a specific item, however, but if that’s the case then all you have to do is ask a local employee and you’ll be on the right track in no time.

Haggle for Your Life

This is probably the only official mall in Bangkok where you’ll be able to try out your new-found bartering skills. Most actual shops will refuse to barter whereas here in MBK there’s so much competition that lots of shop owners welcome a deal. The mall used to house hundreds, if not thousands, of shops specializing in knock-off designer gear. As of a crackdown in 2017 this seems less frequent but who knows, maybe the likes of Nikke and Adididas will return soon!

which bootleg Adidas are you meme
OC meme by Chris Tweten

Feeding Time

Every good mall deserves a good food court and MBK delivers in this aspect. It provides hundreds of different food stalls dotted here and there but the main focus is not one but two food courts. Up on the 5th floor you’ll find the international food court catering to tourists who want a break from traditional Thai cuisine, and if you’re still feeling in a Thai mood then head up to the 6th floor for the local’s food court where the spice is turned up and the menu less familiar.

Let Me Entertain You!

It’s not all shopping and eating. MBK has a whole floor dedicated to entertainment. It has a huge multiscreen cinema, karaoke booths and centers, arcade, online gaming center, more restaurants and even a new 3D trick eye museum which seem to be ever growing in popularity across Thailand.

How to Get to MBK Center

Ask any cab driver within 100 miles of Bangkok to take you to MBK and they will understand within a split second. If you’re looking to use public transport (and avoid the hellish traffic) then your best option is to jump on the BTS and alight at National Stadium. From there you can walk along a handy skyway connecting the station direct to the mall itself.

#BodegaHostels Insider Tip

Electronic items themselves can be expensive here, as well as elsewhere in Thailand. But the accessories- think camera bags, tripods etc- can be an absolute bargain. Definitely check the price at your stores at home before making a big purchase. If you’ve managed to lose your phone or camera then MBK is still a great bet.

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