on May 5, 2009
Nicknamed MBK, Mahboonkrong is considered among knowing Thais as the best shopping mall for cellular phones. However, much more hides within this giant.LocationMBK is on the southeastern corner of the Siam Square Junction; its location provides a spectacular visibility to the structure, which is an easily recognizable landmark.On the junction’s kitty corner is the Siam Discovery Center; both malls are connected by an elevated bridge that provides access also to the Skytrain. A covered, air-conditioned pedestrian bridge over Phaya Thai Road connects MBK with Bonanza Mall, a popular mall in Siam Square which specializes in inexpensive apparel. Reaching MBKThe best way of reaching MBK is with the Skytrain. The National Stadium Station is in front of the mall; Siam Station is across the junction and is connected to the mall through an elevated bridge. The last is important because it is the meeting point for both lines and can be accessed from many areas in the city. The Hua Chang Pier of Khlong Saen Saeb is within walking distance; see the relevant entry in this journal for more details. The mall is open daily, between 10 AM and 10 PM.Venerable ShoppingMBK’s name is peculiar even when compared with other Thai names; simply it is the combination of the developer parents’ names: Mah and Boonkrong. Their statues are on the ground floor.Neither the most luxurious nor the biggest, MBK is one of the oldest shopping malls in Bangkok. Despite its age – it was opened in 1985 – the mall is periodically subject to upgrades, offering a quite stylish environment. A series of interlaced escalators offers very attractive views, especially due to the reflections they create on their metallic surfaces. As most other shopping malls in the Rama I – Ploen Chit – Sukhumvit roads commercial area, MBK is huge, housing 2500 shops in eight floors and a third of a kilometer length. Seeing all of it in a day would mean a running a mini-marathon along its endless corridors. Most shopping malls diversify themselves and offer a wide variety of goods. That’s true also for MBK, but it is hard to avoid the impression that the mall sells mainly cellular phones and other electronic gadgets. Shops selling them occupy whole areas of the mall; stalls selling the same equipment are placed in front of the shops. In this cell phones-saturated environment, it is hard to see the other shops. Yet, it is possible to buy here also clothes, furniture, gold, jewelry and many other products; even a supermarket is hidden within the colossus. The Tokyu Department Store is on the side facing the Rama I Road, which offers a wide selection of international brands and is connected through a bridge to the Skytrain.Services include several money exchange facilities, several banks and a Tourist Information Counter on the ground floor.Cultural products are also well represented here; MBK features the SF Cinema City Multiplex (with 8 theatres), 28 bowling lanes at the SF Strike Bowl, the SF Music City Karaoke and large internet kiosks, some of them featuring luxurious coaches and excellent equipment. The Pathumwan Princess Hotel occupies the mall’s southern end. Beyond all these, MBK is remarkable for its food.Food, Food, FoodThe choices for a meal here are varied, including several international fast food outlets and restaurants; some of the most popular are Sizzler, Oishi, MK Restaurant, KFC, Mc Donald's and Pizza Hut.However, MBK distinguishes itself from other shopping malls in the many options for a Thai meal it offers. The Fifth Avenue International Food Plaza at the 5th floor features five thousand seats; if that wasn’t enough, there are other, smaller, food plazas within the structure specializing in Thai dishes.Thai cuisine can be divided into shared and individual dishes. While eating with other people, shared dishes are the most popular, thus individual dishes are harder to approach. Yet, they include many attractive options (see the Thai cuisine entry in this journal for more details). A visit to a shopping mall provides the perfect opportunity for trying these tasty products of the local kitchen.Planning the VisitWith all these options, it is better to have at least an idea of how the mall is setup. Some types of shops – like restaurants, cellular phones and apparel shops – are scattered around all over the place; trusting serendipity while seeking one of these is the best advice. Other shops are most exclusive. The ground floor is home to the supermarket; the next two floors feature jewelries and gold shops. The fourth floor is where the main banking area is located; this is also the main area selling electronic gadgets. The fifth floor is dedicated mainly to furniture; it would be also useless for a traveler if it wasn’t for the Fifth Avenue Food Plaza. The sixth floor is home to many restaurants and souvenir shops, the last are a good place for purchasing gifts due to the wide variety of products and the good prices offered. Finally the seventh floor includes the cinema, karaoke, bowling and internet facilities. The last floor is for offices.MottosSeldom have I seen more accurate mottos; MBK advertises itself as "The Most Visited Mall in Bangkok" and "Thousand of shop, Millions of People, Endless Bargains" (sic). I adapted the charming last one for the description of this journal, since – to some extent - it fits also Bangkok.
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