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Bangkok has a good reputation for shopping, particularly for antiques, gems, contemporary interior design and fashions, where the range and quality are streets ahead of other Thai cities. Silk and handicrafts are good buys too, though shopping for these in Chiang Mai has many advantages. As always, watch out for fakes: cut glass masquerading as precious stones, old, damaged goods being passed off as antiques, counterfeit designer clothes and accessories, pirated CDs and DVDs, even mocked-up international driver’s licences (though Thai travel agents and other organizations aren’t that easily fooled). Bangkok also has the best English-language bookshops in the country. Downtown is full of smart, multi-storey shopping plazas like Siam Centre, Siam Paragon and Central World on Thanon Rama I and Emporium on Thanon Sukhumvit, which is where you’ll find the majority of the city’s fashion stores, as well as designer lifestyle goods and bookshops. The plazas tend to be pleasantly air-conditioned and thronging with trendy young Thais, but don’t hold much interest for tourists unless you happen to be looking for a new outfit. Shopping centres, department stores and tourist-oriented shops in the city keep late hours, opening daily at 10 or 11am and closing at about 9pm; many small, upmarket boutiques, for example along Thanon Charoen Krung and Thanon Silom, close on Sundays, one or two even on Saturdays. Monday is meant to be no-street-vendor day throughout Bangkok, a chance for the pavements to get cleaned and for pedestrians to finally see where they’re going, but plenty of stalls manage to flout the rule.

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