Bangkok is world-famous as a cheap shopping mecca. Malls, markets, department stores, independent boutiques -- there's every available shopping venue and just about every type of product. In 2012, if you'll be in Bangkok and looking for cheap bargains, you might want to consider buying these five things.
Thai Silk - As always, in 2012 Thai silk is just as good of a bargain as it ever was. From silk scarves to shawls, shirts, blouses, skirts, jackets, ties, bags, headscarves -- you name it, you can find it. You'll find the cheapest Thai silk at markets like Chatuchak Weekend Market, Talad Lot Fai (Railway Market, on Saturday and Sunday nights near Khampaeng Phet underground train station), and in shopping malls like MBK. Expect to pay 100 baht ($3.10) for a scarf and around 200 baht ($6.20) for a silk shirt.
DVDs - Of course, Thailand has more bootleg DVDs than most other countries combined but, I'm not talking about bootleg DVDs, but instead the authentic, genuine article. Pick up a few Thai movies on DVD (just chck to make sure they have English subtitles first), as they're as cheap as 100 baht ($3.10) or, if you're a fan of CSI, Gray's Anatomy, Gilmore Girls, Private Practice, Lie to Me or any number of other American TV series, you can pick up a whole season for as cheap as 299 baht ($10.30). And yes, these are the authentic, genuine deal -- just made for the Thai market, so cheaper.
Also don't miss checking out DVD stalls that pop up in the mezzanine areas of Bangkok's markets. Again, if the DVDs are encased in plastic wrapping, they are genuine and, nowadays, are going for as little as 39 baht ($1.30) for older movies. I just bought The Rock, The Departed, Babel, Resident Evil, and The Bourne Conspiracy - all for only $1.30 each.
DVDs will have both English and Thai soundtrack, as well as subtitles in both languages.
Costume Jewelry - Still one of the best buys in Bangkok in 2012, costume jewelry is everywhere and as cheap as 30 cents (10 baht), I kid you not. Look at Bangkok's markets for rings, bracelets, necklaces, earrings - you can even find silver earrings at Chatuchak Weekend Market for only $5, and they're gorgeous.
Clothing - As always, clothing is one of the best buys in Bangkok in 2012. T shirts for as low as 99 baht ($3.08), jeans for 200 baht ($6.20) (and you can get them altered to shortened to size for free, if you buy them at MBK mall), shorts for between 50 baht ($1.60) for kids shorts and 250 baht ($7.80) for designer label men's shorts. Just don't buy at the market stalls that pop up on Sukhumvit every night - they're for the tourists, and much more expensive.
Thailand also has thousands of independent designers popping up everywhere. Why not buy something completely unique, that no-one back home will ever wear, for less than an average blouse in the US or Europe. Check out shops at Siam Square, and inside Siam Center mall.
Computers and Peripherals - If you're a computer geek, pick up your latest computer in Bangkok. Pantip Plaza, Fortune Town Mall and Union Mall are three of the best places to buy computers and they come fully-loaded with not only the newest operating system but loads of extras like games and desktop publishing software. Every computer I've ever bought in Bangkok, I've paid at least $100 cheaper than a similar computer in the US, and saved $200 or more on the price of computers in Europe.
Add on all the software and computer games you can buy for cheap prices at any of the computer malls in Bangkok, and you could go home with everything to keep you up-to-date and busy until your next trip to the Thai capital.