Chidlom BTS: shop till you drop
Not far down the line from Siam BTS, Chidlom BTS is still very much surrounded by expensive boutiques and shopping malls. In fact, the area has been described as the ‘battleground of the malls’.
One of these malls is the Erawan Bangkok, a five-storey mall stretching across 13,000 or so square metres. It’s a boutique mall where those with fat wallets or bottomless credit cards can find only the very best of name brands and fashions.
The Erawan Tea Room, which looks out over the famous and much-visited Erawan shrine, has, as the name suggests, teas from all over the world. It’s almost a nostalgic homage to the days of the British Raj, except, of course, that Thailand was never a cog within the British Empire. Even so, the Tea Room recreates that uniquely English tradition of tiffin, afternoon tea, quite well.
The Erawan Shrine is not strictly a Buddhist spirit house but it attracts an incredible number of visitors every day, more than many of the city’s temples. It was erected after problems arose during the construction of the Erawan Hotel in the 1950s. So many allegedly strange and mysterious things happened while the building was taking place that construction labourers refused to continue until the malevolent spirits they thought were haunting the site were appeased.
The end result after consultation with mystics and others who were supposed to know the answers was that an image of four-faced Brahma god, Than Tao Mahaprom, was cast and erected as the auspicious solution.
Construction restarted and the end result saw the Erawan Hotel open without further problems. It, and the shrine, quickly became key tourist attractions. The Erawan Hotel
Was replaced by the Grand Hyatt Erawan Bangkok in 1991 but the shrine remains.
Sadly, in August this year the shrine was the scene of a bombing which led to more than 20 deaths and 120+ injuries, with no one claiming responsibility for the atrocity at the time of writing.
Nearby is the CentralWorld mega-shopping complex. It’s a grandiose name, but it arguably lives up to its promise as it is one shopping mall you could disappear into and take a day to get through.
As one guide to Bangkok suggests, ‘It has everything from brand name clothing boutiques, funky fashion, high-tech gadgets, bookshops and designer furniture to imported groceries, a lineup of banks, beauty salons, gourmet eateries and even an ice-skating rink.’
It covers a whopping 550,000 square metres of retail space and a total area size of 830,000 square metres. This makes it fully one-third larger than any other shopping centre in the central part of Bangkok. CentralWorld has more than 500 stores, 100-plus restaurants and cafes, as well as 15 cinemas and so much else.
There is an outdoor square for large-scale events, one of which is Bangkok’s official New Year countdown party; the place to be on 31 December.