Layer upon layer of choices.
Look at any in-flight magazine or visit websites of tourist destinations and you will find a list of attributes and attractions for a given place.
Invariably, all of them will list “shopping” as a highlight of any trip to their location.
But, not all destinations are really a “shopper’s paradise”. And, in many ways it depends on where the visitor is from and what is readily available in their home city or country. Someone who visits from Singapore or Hong Kong surely has about all the shopping choices a person could want.
A visitor from a small town in Norway or rural area in Russia may be starved for choices.
So how does Pattaya rate as a shopper’s paradise?
You may be pleasantly surprised; Pattaya has layer upon layer of choices for visitors and residents alike.
Anyone who has been down Pattaya Beach Road has witnessed an array of “street vendors” and tourist targeted discount shops.
It should come as no surprise that these are mostly stocked with counterfeit brands and cheap copies of clothing, watches, etc. Still, if you are looking for gifts for friends back home, that Chang Beer tee-shirt and a fake Rolex may be just the thing you want.
One step up from the street vendors would be an entire mall of these kinds of items as well as a whole bunch of brands no one has ever heard of.
Mike Shopping Mall in the middle of Beach Road comes to mind. Still, if you forgot to pack your swimming trunks or need a pair of throw-away sandals for the beach, you can satisfy these needs very cheaply at Mike’s.
The original shopping malls in Pattaya are on the small side.
The Big C Festival in North Pattaya on Second Road has always offered a mixture of internationally known brand stores like Camel, Lee, Hom and others as well as a whole second floor full of tourist-take-home items.
This conveniently located mini-mall has recently been given a much needed face lift and is now called Central Marina.
The dining choices have doubled and there is a nice courtyard area with outdoor vendors and live music on weekends.
Of particular note is the sparkling new Big C and the sprawling sporting goods shop on the second floor.
Royal Garden Plaza attached to the Marriott (now Avani Resort) in South Pattaya was the first real “mall”.
Again, they have some well-known clothing brands like The Gap, Guess and Levi’s mixed in with some more tourist oriented shops and salons.
This place never seems to stop morphing.
Earlier this year they added a convenient Foodland outlet in the basement floor.
One little known secret about RGP is the upscale food court on the top floor. It’s at least two stars better than your run-of-the-mill Thai food court with international cuisine and a panoramic sea view.
A few years ago Central Festival on Beach Road opened and Pattaya finally got a proper shopping mall. What’s more, it is attached to a Hilton Hotel right on the beach.
This is where you’ll find just about every brand name under the sun.
The Central department store anchors the mall offering everything from designer clothing to home appliances.
Central Festival is conveniently organized with each floor featuring a different category of shopping.
The top two floors are dedicated to a spectacular theatre complex and a variety of good restaurants.
Most of the third level is clustered with hi-tech gadget stores and camera shops. A big Power Mall outlet offers everything from the latest I-phones to giant LCD televisions.
Level 2 there is an equally huge Super Sport outlet featuring clothes and equipment for every activity you can think of. Golf clubs, running shoes, surf shorts … Super Sport has it all.
If brand names are what excite you, Central Festival has a lot. Guess, Body Glove, CC Double 0, Von Dutch, Camel Active, Nike, Adidas, Puma, MNG, Zara, Calvin Klein; they even have a Manchester United shop!
The ground floor features a new jewelry and gem pavilion that is sure to capture the eye of many visitors. Also on the ground floor is a collection of small shops with many “only in Thailand” items. Clothing, home décor, and souvenirs in this section are good quality and value.
In 2016 The Harbor Mall opened on Pattaya Klang Road to great fanfare.
The Harbor Mall is quite small in comparison to Central Festival, but offers a ton of food choices including a massive Au Bon Pain and Coffee Club on the lower floors.
This venue is kind of a throwback to some older malls you’ll find with Bangkok as it is very “vertical” and is inordinately populated with smartphone and hi-tech shops.
It is a good hangout place and has some surprisingly good places to eat.
Pattaya has slowly built it’s cadre of shopping venues laying on a layer at a time.
Now it looks like we will get a new top layer next year with the addition of Terminal 21 currently under construction between Second Road and Beach Road in North Pattaya.
Terminal 21 will be the new flagship of Pattaya shopping venues with 6 floors of shops, food and fun.
Those who have experienced Terminal 21 in Bangkok understand that it’s not just hundreds of shops and restaurants, but a meeting point … a place to go … a hangout place … like a park with pizza, ice cream and air conditioning.
Plans for the state-of-the-art movie theater complex look absolutely space age. There are also plans for a 500 room 9-story Centre Point Hotel attached to the complex.
With all these choices, visitors may be overwhelmed. I recommend buying some local brands like the fabulous fabrics from Jim Thompson, a legend in Thai silk, or Jaspal, Thailand’s upscale fashion house. Chances are you can’t get these brands back home.
If you are looking for those “only available in Thailand” items, please don’t overlook shops that display the OTOP (One Tambon One Product) symbol. This is a government sponsored program to promote locally produced goods with cultural significance.
The only shopping layer missing in Pattaya is the super luxury brands like Hermes and Gucci.
But, with some of the five star luxury hotels and resorts being built, I predict we’ll see some of those brand names appearing very soon in attached shopping complexes like the Intercontinental or Erawan hotels in Bangkok.
Can’t find what you want? Be patient, another layer is sure to be coming soon.