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Pantip Plaza

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The unequivocal overlord of electronics centres in Thailand, Pantip Plaza has been a mainstay in Bangkok’s Pratunam shopping district for more than 20 years. This cavernous hub of all things blinking, flashing, gaming and computing gets it done with spartan facilities, dirt cheap prices and hard-nose haggling. Whether you’re a recovering technophobe in search of your first ever PC or a hopeless geek in need of some spare computer parts, Pantip has got you covered.

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Oh boy, I feel a seizure coming on.

I feel a seizure coming on.

More than just a shopping centre, Pantip truly is the centre of technology in a seriously tech-obsessed city. Many of its larger computer shops specialise in wholesaling used equipment to smaller shops from around the country, and Pantip supports an army of skilled electronics technicians. If this crew can’t resurrect your PC from the dead, no one can.

It's in the computer! (Remember 'Zoolander'?)

“It’s in the computer!” (Remember ‘Zoolander’?)

Aside from the usual — digital cameras, tablets, mobile phones, computers, surveillance gear, video game systems, stereos, spare parts, neon “we’re open” signs and remote-controlled helicopters — Pantip also includes an official iStudio Apple store to go with out-of-place stalls that sell Thai Buddhist amulets, perfume and wholesale potato chips. You really can find almost anything tech-related here; entire shops are devoted exclusively to things like calculators and power strips, and most items are available used or new.

Just pickin’ up some peripherals.

Each individual approaches Pantip in their own way. Conservative shoppers tend to stick to the large (and legit) IT City and Data IT stores, with their slightly higher prices that often come with the bonus of a warranty and, at the least, the peace of mind that you can make a return without any trouble. Risk takers, on the other hand, may take their chances with the absolute cheapest option available from a shady, sign-less shop that doesn’t even give out receipts, let alone warranties.

Many of Pantip’s shops offer the same products — competition is stiff and prices are typically low. It’s expected that shoppers will check out several options and do a fair bit of haggling before making a decision. As is the case with many of Thailand’s markets, a large number of Pantip vendors unabashedly sell knock-off items alongside the real things. If they’re not straightforward about the difference, look elsewhere.

Meet the person in charge of enforcing Thailand's anti-pirating laws.

Meet the person in charge of enforcing Thailand’s anti-pirating laws.

Several shops sell pirated DVDs, including movies that just came out in theatres, so steer clear if you care about respecting intellectual property rights. Pantip is also the stomping grounds of an annoying band of touts who try to entice men into buying “naughty movies”. While sometimes pushy, they’re harmless enough — just ignore and move on.

If you get dizzy and need a bite or a beer, a decent second floor food court hawks curries with rice and noodle soup, including a tasty khao soi, the Chiang Mai staple that’s not so easy to find in Bangkok. A string of street food carts also set up along the footpath out front — don’t miss the Thai sausages, fried chicken and sticky rice sweets.

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