Shopping Bangkok’s Pratunam and Sleeping in Centara Watergate Pavillion

When the woman in the first clothing stall seemed overly excited about me trying on a shirt I didn’t get it.

“You can try!” she kept telling me with a big smile, and I smiled right back, telling her I was just looking for now but thank you, all the while thinking “well, of course I could try it on, what a strange thing to say.”

A few stalls later when I came across a top that I did want to try on for size I asked where the changing room was and was told there wasn’t one. “No try,” the woman said dismissively with a wave of her hand.

Thinking that was because they didn’t have a place for people to get changed I decided to see how the shirt fit by simply putting it on over my singlet top. Which sparked an outraged “No try! No try!!”

And that’s when I realised the rules here were a little different.

Surviving Pratunam’s Platinum Fashion Mall

The Pratunam district is the heart of Bangkok’s wholesale and retail fashion business, and as I was to discover the Platinum Fashion Mall is not your average shopping centre.

The biggest of its kind in Thailand, Platinum has more than 2,000 stores with everything from young funky designers and curious creations to your mass produced numbers and designer rip offs.

There are some serious bargains to be found, with racks upon racks of clothes for 100 and 200 baht (around $4- $8), and if you buy two or more items in a stall you’ll get them even cheaper at ‘wholesale price.’

Which is where the no try idea starts to make a bit more sense. You see this is essentially a wholesale mall where shopkeepers come and buy things they then sell on. But while some wholesale places don’t allow the public to join in the fun, here bargain hunters are also welcome.

Of course the fact that only a handful of places in this huge complex allow you to try before you buy, that bargain can quickly become a waste of money if it doesn’t fit or looks hideous once you’ve put it on.

With this in mind even though I spent most of the day wandering the aisles I ended up coming away with a single t-shirt (that I had been allowed to try) and a few gifts for people.

But as I’m one of those people who really enjoys getting out and just pottering around in shops, checking out what’s on sale and people watching it was still a fun day for me. And being in air-conditioned comfort certainly didn’t hurt.

That said I was there on a weekday and before school got out so I could easily move around. I’m told weekends and later in the day during the week when students and the after work crowd all stream in can be madness so best to avoid it then if you can.

Escaping to the Centara Watergate Pavillion

After hours of shopping sensory overload I stepped out into that hot Bangkok air, wandered about half a block down the road and stepped into the Watergate Pavillion Shopping Mall.

But this time I wasn’t here to shop.

Instead I hopped in the lift and went upstairs to the Centara Watergate Pavillion, the stylish four-star hotel that’s a little different to most Centaras.

People who know their Centaras will know that most of them are beautiful in more of a classic style, like the colonial elegance of the Centara Grand Beach Resort in Hua Hin. This Centara Watergate Pavillion on the other hand is more modern looking, with lots of clean lines and some eye-catching features.

From the silver man lamp and his colourful sheep friend in the lobby, to the softly glowing furniture on the rooftop bar there was enough to make me smile without feeling overwhelmed by design.

My room was light and bright and a sweet cool oasis to come home to and I was happy to see a kettle along with a mini bar so I could make my own tea (it makes such a difference in the morning if I can have my first cuppa in bed as I come to life and plan my day).

I loved the round showers that are positioned between the bathroom and the rest of the room and look out onto both. There’s a curtain you can draw so you don’t put on a show if you are travelling with family or a friend, or leave open if you’re travelling solo or with a lover.

The bed was super soft and comfortable, and the breakfast buffet the next morning was one of those ones that gets me all baffled about where to start because I want to try it all.

There was also a Make Your Own Bloody Mary station, though if I’d started there that may have made the decision making harder so I resisted. And had one after my first course instead.

The Walk Rooftop Bar and getting Chilli Hip

Speaking of cocktails, even if you aren’t staying at Centara Watergate Pavillion it’s worth popping up to their rooftop bar after a hard day’s shopping to kick back, watch the sun go down and feel the cooler air up there.

Their rooftop bar, The Walk on level 21, has been the scene of recent fashion shows but despite looking swish and being up in the air in the city the prices are reasonable with cocktails around $11.

They also have a restaurant up there in the open air on the 20th floor. Chili Hip has a range of delicious Thai and other Asian dishes on offer, and when the sun goes down and the lights come up on the buildings all around you, it’s the sort of place where you really want to take your time enjoying your meal and the company.

Getting Pampered in Spa Cenvaree

A recipe involving black sesame seeds and golden honey sounds like the sort of thing I should have had at Chili Hip.

Instead it was the treatment I had at Cense by SPA Cenvaree.

As a total sucker for a massage I’ll admit I had also had one of those cheap ones that you can get in any number of massage places on the street the day before. While the girl who did it was quite good with her hands, there was also a slightly worrying moment when I could feel things crawling in my chair.

Upstairs in the hotel spa, I had no such concerns. It was all nice and clean, smelt beautiful (don’t you just love that spa smell?) and there was a lovely big shower in my treatment room. Which was to come in handy.

Centara Watergate Pavillion Bangkok Cense by SPA Cenvaree shower, image courtesy Centara

Deciding to mix things up from my usual massages I was tossing up between the Aromatic Coffee Scrub and the Earthy Black Sesame and Honey Scrub, before deciding to go all honey sesame.

It may have been a new experience, but it was one I rather liked. The sesame provided just a little texture as it did its exfoliating work and the honey feeling was new, but good for my skin.

Thankfully that nice big shower was on hand when the treatment was over, and by the time I floated back upstairs to my room I was feeling nice and pampered. And not at all like a raw prawn.

Centara Watergate Pavillion I shall be back. And this time I’ll know just how to tackle those shops.

Amanda Woods stayed as a guest of Centara Watergate Pavillion but as usual all opinions remain her own.

Heading to Sri Lanka? You may also want to check out my review of the Centara Ceysands Resort in that beautiful part of the world. 

About the Author

As a journalist who loves to travel and is fond of a chat I'm oh so happy when I'm sharing travel tales and tips through my blog and on my weekly travel segment on Sydney Radio 2UE. When I'm not travelling or writing about it I can be found out and about with friends, curled up at home with a good book or watching an addictive tv show promising I'll stop after one more episode. Amanda on Google +

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