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วันที่: 2012-05-17 15:15:32

Let the mall war begin

As Mega Bangna rises in the east, |the Asiatique makes its move down by the river 

  Bangkok's downtown has suddenly lost its lustre for many shoppers and tourists. The focus is on two huge new malls poking their shiny heads up elsewhere, bringing alternative interior design and a greater diversity of shops.

Last weekend in the town's eastern suburbs, Mega Bangna opened its doors beneath the slogan "your space, your happiness". Hunkering down at kilometre 8 on Bang Na-Trat Road, it boasts being the region's first low-rise suburban super mall and backs that up with a whopping 500 shops, restaurants, supermarkets, a cinema and ice skating rink.

"We want to be an ideal shopping, dining and entertainment destination that supports all lifestyles," says Christian Olofsson, Meg Bangna's manager and president of SF Development.

The figures at Olofsson's fingertips are impressive. The eye-watering Bt12-billion budget delivered a two-storey complex with 400,000 square metres of retail space. That's been divided into nine zones covering kids, home, tech, sport, wellness, banking, lifestyle, food and fashion. They feature 200 flagship stores of leading brands from here and abroad as well as a hundred or so cafes and restaurants in the plush Food Republic court from Singapore.

Propping up one side of the mall is early bird IKEA from Sweden, which threw open its doors five months ago on Scandinavian-style furniture and decor for home and office. Another chunk has been grabbed by Robinson Department Store where a multi-brand dressing-up box of fashion, jewellery and cosmetics is luring trendies.

Big C Extra has snatched a piece of the action too, with an aircraft-hangar of a floor carrying everything families need for their Sunday shop - wide-screen TVs included. DIY demons can head next door to the Home Pro to tool up and take their pick of bedroom, bathroom and kitchen fittings.

But up the escalators is where the real fun lives. A playground for youngsters and families, Mega Bangna's second floor packs in a Major Cineplex with 15 big screens and 3,500 seats, large ice skating rink by Sub-Zero, plus bowling and 25 karaoke suites.

Real shopaholics will want to chart a course to the fleet of flagship trend carriers that have sailed into Thailand. Letting down the gangplank at Mega Bangna are international names like Baby and Beyond, Cotton On, Mind Bridge, Misty Mynx, New Look, Payless Shoes, Royal Ivy Regatta, Stride Rite and The Icing Room.

But attempting to outshine the east, Bangkok's western horizon got a new star all its own last month. The gargantuan Asiatique the Riverfront has been touted as the new Suan Lum Night Bazaar and is already buzzing with locals and tourists. The Asiatique reincarnates what was a thriving riverside trading post during King Rama V's reign (1868-1910), with 10 of its old warehouses on Charoenkrung Road getting a Bt1,000-million transformation. The 72-rai site was also an arsenal for the Japanese army during World War II but the bombs are long gone, replaced by 1,500 fashion boutiques and furniture shops, 45 restaurants and the Joe Louis Puppet and Calypso theatres.

The vibe of rural life a century ago reverberates in vintage architecture, sculptures and a sprinkling of shops selling traditional Thai wares.

"We wanted to build a festival market and a 'living museum'. We kept the old warehouse structures, which were built around 80 years ago, and rebuilt some of the original wooden houses to give people a flavour of the gentler lifestyle of years gone by," says project director Napat Charoenkul.

The Asiatique is divided into four outdoor zones inspired by Old Siam's major trading centres. In "Charoenkrung" you'll find handicrafts, souvenirs, home decor items and spa products, as well as the relocated Joe Louis Theatre, featuring traditional Thai puppet shows, and the Calypso Theatre for cabaret.

Head to Town Square for a mix of Thai and Western in the busy international dining scene and stage performances beneath the old white clock tower. Next door is the Factory District where quirky local designers vie with international names for the attention of shoppers.

But the place to be seen is definitely the Waterfront. The 300-metre riverside promenade is lined with fine restaurants and opens onto a large park for live music shows, festivals and, no doubt, New Year's countdown parties.

"We want to be a must-visit venue for foreign tourists while also attracting shoppers from Bangkok and around," Napat says.

So far, it's mission accomplished.

 

 

BANGKOK BEHEMOTHS

>> MEGA BANGNA is on Bang Na-Trat Road, Km8, and open every day, 10am to 10pm. Call (02) 642 3800-7 or visit www.Mega-bangna.com.

>> ASIATIQUE THE RIVERFRONT is on Charoenkrung Road (72-74). It's open daily from 5pm to midnight.

Call (02) 108 4489 or visit www.Asiatiquethailand.com.

 

 

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NEW ON THE SCENE

>> Terminal 21 opened mid 2011 at a cost of Bt6 billion. Located at the Asoke intersection, it offers serviced apartments, a department store and 600 shops belonging to both international brands and local designers, plus a cinema and restaurants.

Each floor is dedicated to a different city theme, so visitors can spend time in Istanbul, Tokyo, London, Paris, Rome, San Francisco and Hollywood.

 

>> The revamped Central Lat Phrao is back in the game after months of renovation costing a cool Bt900 million. The five-storey mall is a favourite with fashionistas, being home to flagship stores of Muji, Uniqlo and Zara.

 

>> A short drive away is the brand new Bt4.9-billion Central Plaza Grand Rama IX. Opened in December on a 105-rai plot, its eight storeys house 300 international and local brands, 80 restaurants, a fitness centre, an Olympic-size ice skating rink and Food Republic, a 600-seat dining court from Singapore.

 

>> Also on Rama IX Road is The Nine, a trendy community mall that's been open about a year. Costing Bt1.2 billion, it has a tropical-village style with trendy boutiques, restaurants, cafes, bookstores, flower shops, beauty centres and a spa. There's also a 24-hour Seri supermarket and a food court inspired by a traditional Thai market.

 

 

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LAUNCH READY

>> Just opened on Wednesday, Promenade's lights are drawing flocks of shoppers to Ram-Indra Road and Min Buri. Next to the popular Fashion Island, the Bt1-billion behemoth has belly room for more than a hundred shops, restaurants and supermarkets. The laid-back concept is "romantic casual".

 

>> The Pure Place opened its third boutique mall yesterday, in Ratchaphruek. The Bt150-million "green living mall" has a cosy mix of Max Value supermarket, banks and restaurants plus a beauty salon, language schools and other services.