Mega Plaza – Bangkok’s Toy and Hobby Central
Back in the ’80s, Bangkok shopping was awesome. The Department Stores had toy sections with decent radio control cars (eg Tamiya and Marui) and the sports sections had cross-bows, ninja stars, airsoft guns and sometimes even real firearms. Times have changed a lot. I feel like as the shopping centres become bigger and more luxurious, the selection seems to reduce. I mean how many outlets of Gucci, Armani, Lacoste, Aveda, Zara and H&M do we really need? I therefore spend a lot of my time shop-hunting away from the glitzy downtown centres, seeking those fringe stores that offer lower rent and less main-stream items.
Enter Mega Plaza (not to be confused with Mega Bang-Na). This six storey shopping mall sits not far from the start of Sampeng Lane in China Town. Mega houses hundreds of small, independent retailers, selling all manner of toy and hobby items. If you want something for the kids, or some collectibles or radio control goodness for yourself, then this is definitely THE place in Bangkok to head to.
History of Mega Plaza
Mega Plaza started life as the Merry Kings Department Store, back in the 1980s. You will notice that some maps still list the intersection where the centre sits as Merry Kings junction. The store didn’t do to well since the 1997 financial crisis and over the years decayed and eventually was sold off. At the time, China Town was the place for toys and hobby items. However, the stores tended to be scattered all around, including within some of the market lanes across the road such as Saphan Lek, and within the upper floors of the Old Siam Plaza. In about 2015, the old site for Merry Kings was redeveloped into Mega Plaza, receiving a face lift and the department store layout being replaced with small individual spaces for low rent independent stores. The nearby toy sellers were quick to take advantage and move in and Mega has quickly filled up with a yummy assortment of stores.
As mentioned earlier, Mega Plaza is six floors. Although each of the floors contains a real hodge-podge of different stores, there is a bit of a theme to each floor, so I will try and highlight those below, to make your shopping life easier. The Bangkok Shopping Guide, once we release it for publication, will contain a more detailed map of each floor layout. Note, each level has a name, and the aisles are numbered, which is handy if you ever want to remember where a particular store is.
Level 1 – Kowloon – Contains a McDonalds and Chesters Grill on each side of the main entrance, and an Amazon Coffee outlet. In terms of toy and hobby stores, this floor is a real mix, with a few Gunpla sellers, a figurine display acrylic case seller, a bunch of kids electric cars, and some RC drones and cheap RC cars. In addition, there are watch, clothing and jewellery merchants.
Level 2 – Shibuya – Has several airsoft (bb) gun retailers and a decent bb gun repair shop. There are a lot of video game retailers on this level, selling all genres such as PS4, Xbox, and older consoles (even going back to the 1980s, such as Atari, Famicom, Nintentdo Game & Watch). There are also places where you can buy parts or have your console repaired. There are also a bunch of RC stores, and many generic toy shops selling knock-off Lego.
Level 3 – Orchard – Is where a lot of the more hobby oriented stuff is located, including collectible figurines such as new and vintage Star Wars, Gundam, Gunpla, and various superhero franchises. In the corner above the main entrance there is even a workshop where figures and busts are custom made and painted. There is a really good RC car store near the main escalators that has various of the main brands, including both electric and nitro. There are also plastic model kit retailers, plastic model tools and paints, a few more airsoft (bb) places including Big Gun, and more video game retailers.
Level 4 – Sloane – Is a combination of various action hero figures, manga figures, video games, fake Lego, 1/6 scale figures (such as the ones by BBI and MacFarlaine Toys), another RC shop dedicated to Tamiya RC (and a few plastic kits) and also the Tamiya Mini 4wd cars. There are also full size action hero replica masks and helmets for sale (including some great Star Wars ones). For some reason, there is also a section taken over by Indian fabric sellers. I wonder why their section seems so quiet?
Level 5 – Gangnam – Contains a mix of RC cars, figurines, comes, Gunpla, video games, plastic model kits and more fake Lego. In addition, one side (aisles 7 to 10) contains a lot of camera stores selling second hand cameras. Taking a browse, I did find some highly sought after cameras and video cameras, but I wasn’t after one so didn’t have time to work out whether they were offering a good deal.
Level 6 – Myeong Dong – There are only a few retailers on this level (and 1/6 scale figures and accessories are one of the more popular themes). The rest of the space is taken up by a large display gallery of super hero figures and busts, a very decent Mini 4wd race track, a good value food court, a bank and a post office.
What is Nearby
Across Chakraphet Road from Mega Plaza is Always One. This is where a lot of the hobby stores used to be before they moved over to Mega. Even though Mega is bigger, don’t write off Always One though, as it does have some items that I could not find in Mega, such as trading cards and Warhammer/Warhammer 40K.
How to Get There
Mega Plaza Wang Burapha is located at Merry Kings Intersection in the Wang Burapha district of China Town, Bangkok. It is on the corner of Yaowarat Road and Chakraphet Road.
The most interesting way to get to Mega Plaza (assuming you are along the BTS skytrain route) is to get the BTS to Saphan Taksin station, get off and head to the ferry terminal. Catch a 15B orange flag ferry heading up river (to Nonthaburi) and get off at Memorial Bridge Pier (Memorial Bridge is the old iron girdered bridge that looks a little like the bridge on the River Kwai). From Memorial Bridge Pier, take a short walk through the park (across the road from the ferry jetty and up the stairs) and follow Chakraphet Road until you hit the Yaowarat Road intersection.
Alternatively, to keep taxi or tuk tuk trips short, take the MRT to Hualamphong Station, or the BTS to National Stadium, and from there catch a tuk tuk or taxi to Mega Plaza. Cost should be around B100 to 150 with taxi (depending on traffic) and B150 to 200 with tuk tuk.
If you are really on a budget, public bus numbers Red 1, 4, 5, 7, 21 and 25; Blue 37 and 529R; Orange 508 and 40R; and Pink 85R all stop in front of the store on Chakraphet Road. A useful trip is to head to Hualamphong MRT station, cross Rama IV road and catch Red 25, Blue 529R, or Orange 40R heading west. Alternatively, from National Stadium (on the stadium side of Rama I Road), catch bus number Orange 508 heading West. (Note for buses, when I say eg 40R, the bus will actually use the Thai script “ร” instead of English alphabet “r”). Be sure of the colour, number and whether or not there are Thai script letters after the number on the bus, as for example, Orange 40R is different to Orange 40 and you will end up somewhere else. Buses cost around B10 to B15.
Wat Dhammamongkon – A Unique Bangkok Temple off the Tourist Trail
Wat Dhammamongon – off the tourist trail, but features a strand of the Buddha’s hair, Thailand’s tallest pagoda, and a massive jade Buddha with an interesting history.
Getting a Taxi from the Airport into Bangkok
In this next instalment of the how to get from the airport into Bangkok series, Pete considers the options and insider tricks for catching taxis into Bangkok from either airport.