Connecting Sukhumvit Road with Siam Square, Ploen Chit Road hosts many of the main cultural and shopping centers in Bangkok; all of them are shaded by the ubiquitous Skytrain. Despite the last connecting all the road’s attractions, Ploen Chit is better explored by foot.
In Bangkokian terms this is a rather short and calm street; except for the Siam Square area there are no stalls blocking its wide, shaded sidewalks. If walking from Siam Square to Central World Plaza, pay attention to a group of blind people playing traditional Thai music in front of the police headquarters. The Thai society does not care for them properly; leaving them a few baths of spare change may seem an insignificant contribution but it is not so.
Beginning the walk on the western side of Ploen Chit, just west from the Siam Skytrain Station is Siam Square, at the junction with Phayathoi Road. At the corner itself, is the Siam Discovery Center, which is connected with an elevated bridge to the Siam Center. The mall hosts several international clothing shops, several good restaurants and the Grand EGV Cinema. After shopping for a whole day, there is nothing better than a movie to forget the aching feet. The Grand EGV is the most luxurious modern and comfortable theatre in Thailand and is located on the 6th and 7th floors; it has seven theatres that are divided into two different styles. The two Gold Class theatres have a seating capacity of forty, while the Five Deluxe Cinemas have non-marked seats, which allow the viewers to sit anywhere. The more interesting option is the Gold Class, which sells movies at New York prices in Bangkok; the price in local terms is so high than you can pay using your international credit card and no one will even blink. The theatre itself has a huge screen and a good surround sound system, but that’s a secondary feature; the main point is that it hosts few spectators and it offers a private big coach to each one of them. Your next neighbor is about one meter away from you: nobody will fall asleep on your shoulder. An almost private waiter can fetch you basic foods and beverages. The place is so comfortable that the featured movie is almost irrelevant.
Across the junction from the Siam Discovery Center is Mahboonkrong, usually known as MBK, which is considered among knowing Thais as The Place for cellular phones; however finding a suitable one among the myriad of stalls packing up its narrow corridors may prove to be an Herculean task.
Just east of the Siam Discovery Center is the Siam Paragon, the most up-market shopping center in town, and maybe in South East Asia, with 250 exclusive stores and endless luxury items. It features also the Siam Ocean World, which is the largest aquarium in South-East Asia. It has also an excellent food plaza, hosting oddities such as a branch of the excellent Piri Piri Portuguese Chicken.
Eastwards, at the first main junction, is the Central World (former World Trade Center) which had recently emerged from a massive renewal; the old and dark structure was replaced by huge amounts of glass and is now a river of light. The biggest shopping mall in Thailand includes six shopping zones and two popular department stores (Zen and Isetan). All the main brands are represented here and it would take more than a day just to explore its five-hundred (!) world class stores and fifty restaurants. The building is huge, measuring some four hundred meters long and including an attached hotel, fifty-five floors high. It is difficult to miss this huge building at the central junction of Ratchadamri with Ploen Chit, just where the two Skytrain lines meet. In your first days in town this is the perfect landmark to locate yourself.
In front of Central World is the Gaysorn Plaza, which despite its humble size is one of Bangkok leading luxury shopping malls. Gucci, Tiffany, and Armani, compete for the customers’ attention with Thai handicrafts and antiques. Northwards, on Ratchadamri Road, is a huge branch of Big C, maybe the best supermarket in town.
At the kitty corner of Central World, across the junction is the Erawan Shrine; it belongs to the Grand Hyatt Erawan, one of the best hotels in Bangkok. The shrine was built to appease the spirits after a series of construction accidents occurred when the hotel was being built. Traditional Thai dances can be appreciated there during the day. The temple is unusually dedicated to Brahma (Phra Phrom) and was named after his elephant.
Next to it is the Sogo Department Store, and connected to Sogo with an elevated bridge is the Amarin Plaza. Amarin is the perfect place to search for traditional Thai products, many shops selling silk and clothes made from it are placed here. To increase the feeling of having entered a Thai space, the restaurants on their upper floors are mainly local and there is even a good stall-like place serving traditional Thai filtered coffee, caa-faa tung, always served with condensed milk.
A few blocks eastwards is the Central Department Store, which hosts at its basement what is maybe the best Thai-food plaza in Bangkok. Central has other branches in the city, and it is recommended to check prices with the nearby Isetan and Zen before buying something of value. A good book store occupies its top floor together with a mini-branch of Starbucks, the perfect combination for the tired traveler, and a rare one in Bangkok. A Starbucks branch is placed on the first floor and faces the street; it is pleasantly styled as a street facing bar.
The several nearby malls allow confirming an idiosyncrasy in their uniform design. In all of them the Children’s Floor is below the Women’s Floor, which in turn is below the Men’s floor; this is not casual and was done to comply with certain Buddhist principles.