Terminal 21: See the World from Inside an Air-Conditioned Mall

San Francisco Bridge, Terminal 21

I’ve written recently about authenticity when travelling.

Alot of travellers head out to find the ‘real’ place, looking for a city they’ve read about in a book. 

But for a modern, thriving city like Bangkok ‘real’ is hard to define. 

Temples and palaces butt right up against tower-blocks and hotels. Tourists and locals go about their business side-by-side.

But the key with finding what’s ‘real’ is not missing what’s in front of you. Real does not mean old, it does not mean historic, it does not mean local. It’s all of these things and more.

Real just is. It’s what you see right now.

So when you’ve experienced all the old-world reality you can handle, let me offer up a little new-world ‘real’ for you to experience.

Terminal 21 Lighthouse

Terminal 21 is a mall to the east of central Bangkok, but it is easily reached by the metro, with Sukhumvit station right outside.

It is a unique experience, due to its world travel theme.

Each of Terminal 21’s nine floors are themed to a city or region of the world, making each one worth the visit for

  • Lower Ground Floor – Caribbean
  • Ground Floor – Rome
  • Mezzanine Floor – Paris
  • 1st Floor – Tokyo
  • 2nd Floor – London
  • 3rd Floor – Istanbul
  • 4th Floor – San Francisco (City)
  • 5th Floor – San Francisco (Pier)
  • 6th Floor – Hollywood

London Tube in Terminal 21

If you don’t feel this is the ‘real’ Bangkok, then you are wrong! 

This is modern Bangkok right here.

There are a staggering 182 malls in Bangkok .

5 of the 30 biggest shopping malls in the world are located in this city.

The 9 million Bangkokians (is this a world!?) clearly love to shop!

When you add in the fact it is now the most visited city in the world, with over 20 million people visiting in 2017, you can see why this city can support such a shopping infrastructure.


San Francisco Bridge, Terminal 21

For us Terminal 21 was a welcome distraction on a day of transition when we were moving from one apartment to another. It was easy to reach via the metro from our location in Lumphini Park, and kept us out of trouble for a few hours.

Hopefully you can see from the photos that it is worth the visit for more than just shopping – the mall itself is as an attraction. In fact, other than sitting down for an ice-cream sundae (after a week of Thai food, the cold was a nice relief) we didn’t spend any money at all!

Our favourite floor was definitely the Japanese themed one. The designer have built-in dark little alleyways of clothing shops, watched over by lanterns. Forget about experiencing Bangkok, this felt like being transported all the way to Tokyo!

The Japanese Floor

So if you’ve seen every temple, chedi and prang that there is to see, then head out to Terminal 21 for an afternoon.

But is a mall the ‘real’ Bangkok experience?

Well, given how many there are, you could argue that not visiting a mall whilst in Bangkok would actually be less of a ‘real’ experience!

Have fun!


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