Shopping malls in Bangkok come in all shapes and sizes. From the Mega-malls to the smaller neighbourhood shopping centres, they all serve quite a different purpose than malls in northern climates. Take a smaller neighbourhood mall with a wealth of restaurants in Chidlom, for instance.
Chidlom is an area along busy Sukhumvit Road in Bangkok’s shopping district. But the area is also home to thousands of residents as well. Although there are many shopping malls up and down the length of Sukhumvit, many local residents prefer to spend their time in a smaller shopping mall that caters to all their needs, as well as offers restaurants that suit their tastes and budgets.
The smaller malls seem to be more focused on serving local customers. Local banks, health and beauty shops, pharmacies, eyeglass shops, and dry-cleaning establishments are the primary tenants in these malls, as well as good, inexpensive places to eat.
The relentless heat of the city, as well as the drenching rains that can occur during the monsoon season mean that the malls in Bangkok serve as much more than just a place to pick up necessities. They also serve as the primary gathering place for social interaction. And what activity takes place whenever people gather to chat and pass the time? Eating and sharing a cup of coffee or tea, of course!
The restaurants in Chidlom that occupy an entire floor of their parent shopping malls, typically offer fresh pastries, sandwiches, salads, and a range of Thai dishes that will appeal to any shopper at lunchtime or through the day.
Upon exploring them, you will notice that many of them have not one or two coffee shops, but a whole range of establishments offering both hot and cold specialty drinks. With the growing popularity of exotic tea-based drinks, you will find a wealth of shops and restaurants offering traditional Chai-style tea made with fruit and other flavors.
There are many restaurants in Chidlom of all styles, cuisines and decors. Many of them advertise world-renowned brand names and famous dishes. But once friends have chosen a restaurant because it’s in a mall with shops that meet all their other daily needs, it soon becomes much more than just a restaurant. It becomes a place where they know they will be welcomed by friends as well.
Like a small-town sidewalk café, the mall restaurants in Chidlom are places where you can watch the foot traffic pass by and while away the hours sipping rich beverages and catching on the local gossip with your friends and family members.
And as every mall in Bangkok is air-conditioned, it is also a place where residents can get out of the heat or driving rain and relax in comfort without staying cooped up in their homes. The city’s malls, especially the smaller malls, represent a microcosm of the surrounding neighborhood. These malls cater to the needs of the community, and in turn, the residents will patronize it for hours and make it their local gathering place. It’s an arrangement that works well for everyone.