Jul 05, 2012|
Forget Starbucks or Dean & Deluca, locals have been coming to chat over coffee at On Lock Yun for over 80 years. With its inconspicuous façade, this cozy spot has forged a strong following that come for a cup of joe and the Thai-style American breakfast, and stay for the old-world atmosphere. The no-frills décor only adds to the charm, with wooden cabinets filled with tins of various flavored powder products from the 80s and all manner of condiments. Drinks like coffee and milk start from B20 and American breakfast from B40.
72 Charoenkrung Rd., close to Sala Chalermkrung, open daily from 6am-4pm.
There aren’t too many places in Bangkok like Mohamed. From the outside, it might look a bit of a mess, with its glass cabinets and shelves seemingly spilling over with products, but this is part of the charm. Open for 87 years, Mohamad sells pens and papers imported from Europe. These include ink pens from the likes of Pelikan, Venus and Schaffer, mostly from the 70s and 80s, and stationery from the 50s and 60s. Drawing paper starts from B20 and pens from B1,000. If you’re a collector, you best drop by regularly, as the shop carries many rare models which aren’t easy to track down.
60 Charoenkrung Rd., 081-586-3934. Open daily, give the owner a call if the shop is empty.
Situated on the busy Silom Rd., JR Suit has been at the forefront of gentlemen’s tailoring for 28 years. The warm interior features fabrics displayed neatly on wooden shelves while dapper-looking suits peer out from the window display. With many fabrics to choose from, like cotton, wool and cashmere, shirts start from B1,250 and suits from B6,500. Don’t be surprised if you run into DTAC owner Boonchai Bencharongkul having a fitting as he’s a regular here. 175 Silom Rd., 02-238-2740. BTS Saladaeng. Open daily 9am-7pm. www.jrtailor.com
The name says it all: Optical Bank does glasses and sunglasses and have been in business for 30 years. Located on Silom Rd, the small shop sells brands familiar to moms and dads like Lafayette and Rodenstock, and hipper selections from Christian Dior, Lacoste and Ray Ban. However, their main focus is on retro glasses from the 80s (think thick frames and aviators). Contact lens cleaner is also available for purchase. 203 Yada Bldg, Silom Rd., 089-120-6277. BTS Saladaeng. Open daily 10:30am-8pm.
There’s not much to it, but Somjai has been selling stationery, books and paint supplies to students and locals around Treepetch Rd. for 20 years. The interior is pretty much what you would expect from a B2S, only smaller and more retro, with a walkway down the middle and products to your left and right. Books are divided into different sections, from technology to cooking, and you can find all sorts of magazines in print, as well as pens and watercolors. Located inside The Old Siam Plaza. 12 Wangburapha, 1/F The Old Siam Plaza, Treepetch Rd., 02-225-0541. Open Mon-Sat 7am-7pm, Sun 8am-5pm. There are a further three branches located all opposite of The Old Siam Plaza.
It’s gloomy, time-worn façade hardly draws in the crowds that Siam Paragon and Siam Discovery enjoy, but Nightingale Olympic, Thailand’s first ever department store, is still just about in business. Founded in 1936, it’s seemingly stuck in time, displaying products as much as 50 years old, still in their original packaging. The two-story building is not unlike the shop houses around Chulalongkorn University, the interior covered in old beige wallpaper and there’s no air-conditioning. Many of the items in the display cases seem out of date (and the aged mannequins are a little creepy), but there are still plenty of old classics to be found. The first floor houses cosmetics from brands like Merle Norman, women’s underwear from Carnial and all manner of sporting goods. The second floor showcases musical instruments, from guitars to trumpets, as well as exercise gear curios like old-fashioned slimming machines from Walton. 25/41, Phahurat Rd., 02-221-9773. Open Mon-Fri 9am-5:30pm, Sat 9am-6pm.
Tanao Road is filled with many old-school shop houses, but the shop keepers seem to come and go. Sukkamol Frame is one of the few shops to stand the test of time, selling picture frames as well as mirrors for the last 52 years. The shop is divided into two rooms, one being the actual shop, with its washed out walls and stacks of wood, the other the craftsman’s room where the frames and mirrors are lovingly made.170-172 Tanao Rd., 02-224-1885. Open Mon-Sat 8:30am-6pm.
At first, this dark, quiet shop house comes across as little more than a typical grandfather’s home, but once inside you’ll realize why Tang Siang Thai is a hidden gem for record collectors. Countless vinyl records line the walls, yet the place is mostly vacant except for the diehard fans of 60s and 70s music stuck for hours leafing through everything from Abba albums to the soundtracks to Gone With the Wind and The Sound of Music. Records start from B100-3,000, and they also have record players, which sell out rather quickly, from B4,000-B10,000. 253-255 Charoenkrung Rd., 02-221-8732. Open Mon-Sat 10am-5pm.
The majority of Bangkok’s gun shops are found along Burapha Rd., but S. Srijarun aims to be something more. The shop may be small, but the selection of products that line the wall, spill out of cabinets and hang from the ceiling, prove that size doesn’t always matter. Started 30 years ago by owner Sutarinee’s grandfather, the shop doesn’t actually sell guns—but it’s one of only a couple in the area to stock gun cases and shooting accessories. There are local and imported rifle cases starting from B150 to gun cleaning kits and gun stands for B2,300. They also stock accessories from the likes of Remington, HKS and Peltor. 111 Burapha Rd., close to Kasikorn Bank, 02-225-8981. www.millpointtrading.co.th. Open daily 9am-5pm.
Theera Music was one of the first music stores to open in Verng Nakon Kasem, the area much-loved by Bangkok sound-makers. Opened for over 90 years, the shop is now run by the fourth generation of the same family. Here, the focus is on guitars, keyboards and drums, as well as other instruments. Although the inside has seen a revamp, the vibe remains the same: a warm little sanctuary for musicians of all levels. Expect renowned names like Fender, Gibson and Roland, starting from B500-300,000. 100-108 Soi Verng Nakon Kasem, Charoenkrung Rd., 02-224-8821. Open Mon-Sat 8:30am-5:30pm.
The stuff of nightmares for some, this messy little shop, with its unpainted walls and ceiling, is all about mannequins, and has been since opening in the 1950s. Available in plastic and wood, in male or female forms, Sujawan’s mannequins carry an affordable price tag, starting from B600-4,500, which is ideal if you’re a fashion designer looking to show off your works. Try their shop opposite Pohchang Academy of Arts, Treepetch Rd., 089-109-6728. Open daily 9:30am-7pm.
This CD shop had long made its mark at the corner of Siam Square Soi 3 before moving to Soi 11. Although the shop might not look like much, it’s one of the hottest music spots in town and a Siam Square landmark. Opened for 21 years, this is where generations of teenagers have come to buy the latest albums from mainstream Thai and international artists. It’s so well known that artists often use it as the site for their record launches. Even more famous than the store is the owner, Piak DJ Siam (Thanachote Piansema) who has been in the business for nearly 20 years. Siam Square Soi 11, Rama 1 Rd. Open daily 12pm-9pm.
“Our first store was at Siam Theatre and when Scala Theatre was completed (in 1969) we moved to where we are now,” says current manager Pornpimol Amornworanat. At first, the 43-year-old store retailed imported books and magazines but now it dedicates most of the four-shop house space to Thai books (covering everything from exam guides to romantic novels), magazines and some stationery. 218/10-12 Siam Square Soi 1, 02-251-4476. Open daily 9am-8pm.
Srisoonthorn Shoe Shop is evidence that you shouldn’t judge a shop by its exterior. It might look like an old abandoned shop house from the outside, but inside lies many treasures. Opened over 40 years ago, the cracked ceilings and crumbling walls go perfectly with their products: vintage shoes designed by the owner’s late mother, from leather formals to loafers and boots. A pair starts from B800 and the owner promises they’re made from tough materials that will last you for a long time—although maybe not four decades. 8/14 Soonthornkosa Rd., Klong Toey. Open Mon-Sat 8am-5pm.
Though the Siam Theatre was destroyed, there are still two classic movie houses left for people to enjoy: the Apex Theatre Group’s Lido and Scala cinemas. Though Lido (completed in 1968) is older, the 43-year-old Scala has always been the star. Finished a year later, it was designed to be the most luxurious theatre of its time. The name Scala means “stairs” in Italian and you have to ascend a dramatic flight of stairs up to the art deco atrium and its glittering chandelier to get into the 1,000-seat cinema. Tickets are cheap, too, at only B100 with popcorn going for B30. The movies tend to be better than at multiplexes, too. Siam Square Soi 1, Rama 1 Rd., 02-251-2861. Open daily from 10am.
Opened 30 years ago, Mham’s Barber used to specialize in gentlemen’s haircuts, but now the focus is on women’s hair only. Owner Bungon Promswan graduated from a beauty school in London before returning to Bangkok to open the shop, which is sat on a little corner of Dinsor Road. The interior is typical of a hairdressers, with a small couch in the waiting area, as well as two hotseats with hair steamers. The walls are lined with posters featuring hairdos from the 90s. Prices start from B200 for a cut and wash. Despite the basic premises, they use pretty high-range hair products from Bedhead Tigi. 163 Dinsor Rd., open Mon-Sat 7am-6pm.
Sat right next to the cutting-edge Digital Gateway, in Siam Square Soi 3, this small shop house sells big-haired ladies fashion. Foong Sirifar opened her self-titled shop to provide fashionistas with a place to get made-to-measure designs back in the 70s. And Foong has seen plenty of trends come and go since then. From two shop houses to just one and from couture-only to some ready-to-wear dresses, Foong has managed to survive changing tastes and is now best known for their finely tailored dresses. 266/1-2 Siam Square Soi 3, 02-253-1303, 02-252-5943. Open daily 9am-8pm.