Panorama of the Week: Panthip Plaza – Bangkok, Thailand

For those of you who’ve visited Bangkok, the name Pantip (or Panthip, if you like) probably rings familiar. If you’ve never traveled to Bangkok and wondered what shopping for gadgets, computers and electronics might look like, here it is: one part modern shopping mall, another part chaotic Asian street market.

But first, an explanation of why we chose this image.

Bangkok, the hub of Southeast Asia — for us, it’s like a magnet. We’ve visited or transited through the city about a dozen times in the last few years. Bangkok is like our home in Asia. There’s a level of familiarity and comfort.

We have certain rituals when we first arrive. We revisit our favorite street food, fruit shake, and iced coffee stands. Then there are the errands: stocking up on passport photos (8 pics for $3), replacing our river sandals ($8), visiting the dentist and stopping by the palace of all things computer, Pantip Plaza.

At Pantip, almost everything electronic you can imagine is under one roof, jammed in — from memory to camera gear to mobile phones to DVDs to software to plug adapters. It’s not the sort of place to peruse and enjoy the process of shopping. It’s more a functional shopping experience — the type of place you go when you have a specific need. Get what’s needed and get out.

On Friday we made our ritual visit to Pantip Plaza. Open up the panorama below and move around it to find out what it’s like. Note: this is what you can see. Underneath and behind it all are the nooks, crannies and secret warrens that are key to the old world-meets-new world Asian shopping experience.

360-Degree Panorama: Pantip Plaza in Bangkok

panorama directions

 

A question for you: If you’re a frequent Bangkok visitor, is Pantip Plaza part of your ritual? Or is MBK more your speed? Or do you avoid them both like the plague?

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Comments

  1. says

    Hi guys,

    In January I set off to travel indefinitely and Bangkok’s my first stop for the same reason, ‘there’s a level of familiarity and comfort’. There’s a few bits of gadgetry that I want to get or upgrade to be able to work on the road and document my adventure and I’m wondering whether i’d be best waiting until I arrive to pick these things up? Are the prices in Pantip generally set or is it a case of having to haggle to get a good deal? One of the big things I may need to upgrade is my MacBook.

    Thanks
    Ryan

  2. says

    @Ryan: Bangkok is a great place to start such a trip. Good choice!

    As for your question. If you were coming from the United States, I’d suggest picking up big ticket items there (e.g., new MacBook) via Amazon because the weakness of the dollar means that buying these in the States is still usually cheaper. However, given that you are coming from the UK that changes things a bit. I think I’d stil buy the big ticket items in the UK anyway because you’ll be guaranteed a proper warranty. Sometimes Mac, Sony, Nikon, etc. get picky on items bought in Asia due to counterfeit issues. However, I’d buy things like software, replacement batteries for your camera/gear, external hard drives, memory, etc., from Pantip (or a similar place in Bangkok). Prices on the small stuff is negotiable, but for some of the bigger item stuff you’ll find more fixed prices.

  3. says

    @Audrey: Thanks for the tips there, I didn’t really consider the warranty issue. Seriously excited about my trip now, can’t wait to get there!! :-)

  4. says

    Pantip is its own separate entity? I thought it was all part of MBK. Man, even the malls are confusing in Bangkok.

    On a related note, across the corner from MBK is a great lunch spot. It’s in some allies behind the collagen implant places. With loads of cheap vendors, it seems to be the place where all the mall employees eat.

  5. says

    @Ryan: I know about warranty issues first-hand :) Nikon repair in the States wouldn’t touch our broken lens until I sent them all sorts of receipts and proof that I had purchased the lens at an authorized dealer in Prague, Czech Republic.

    @Kyle: The malls in Bangkok are definitely confusing. And, there are so dang many of them.

    It’s funny you mention the food in the alleys near MBK – follow the employees to see where they get lunch. There’s a similar set up at Pantip in the alleys across the street. Had some of the best chili basil squid the other day there.

    @Andi: Yup, it’s quite a place. You could explore for days and still not see everything.

  6. says

    I walked into Pantip Plaza my first day in Bangkok to get my laptop fixed last year and I was overwhelmed by all of the many floors of choices! They did a fantastic job fixing my issue, but it meant I wandered around it for a good two hours in and out of the shops until it was repaired! This shot puts me right back into that dazed wander :)

  7. says

    @Shannon: That was exactly our first experience at Pantip Plaza in 2004! We were on vacation from Prague and it was completely overwhelming with the activity, selection and just sheer volume of it all! Electronics in Prague were/are very expensive, so we were like kids in a candy shop at Pantip. Dan also has gotten a laptop screen replaced and other things fixed at Pantip over the years. We even used to get our business cards printed there…before we moved over to Moo.

    @Byya: Next time you come to Bangkok, check out Pantip Plaza! There are no clothes here, but endless electronics and tech gear.

  8. says

    Now, this panorama took me back. To trying to get a MacBook mended, with my son in tow. Five storeys of consumer electronica is heaven for a nine year old boy. Hell for a woman who’s trying to fix a Mac…

    In a way, I prefer the Pantip Plaza in Chiang Mai. It’s a little less daunting…

    Mallwise? I like the food in Discovery (can’t stretch to the food in Paragon). MBK’s great for affordable, non-traveller clothes…

    Thanks for sharing…

  9. says

    @Theodora: I can tell you from experience that fixing a PC at Pantip is easy. I replaced so many different components on my old PC there. But now that I carry a Macbook, I’m imagining that swapping bits of hardware is a bit trickier.

    I didn’t know that Chiang Mai has a Pantip of its own. I guess we’ll have to pay it a visit next time we swing through.

    Thanks for sharing your tips and experience…particularly on the food. We didn’t tackle that here, but it’s interesting to see what shopping mall food courts look like in Southeast Asia. I like the alley across the street from Pantip. There’s a woman there that makes a knockout chili basil seafood (or chicken, or whatever you like) for 30 baht. And when you ask for spicy, she doesn’t do the “farang” thing and hold back.

    Anyhow, getting back to fixing computers while traveling, let’s hope our hardware can hold up so we don’t have to visit any of these malls or electronics palaces very often.

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