Pantip Plaza is a warez pirate's ultimate fantasy. It's five stories of electronics, pirated video and music CDs, and just about any computer software you could ever imagine. I picked up items like Windows 2000, Oracle Enterprise 8i, Heavy Gear 2 and a ton of other high-end business and game software. The price normally runs 150 baht, or about $3US, per CD. I was a regular, so I normally picked up things for 120 baht.

There are literally hundreds of pirated CD shops. You will find little stalls and established businesses selling CDs on every floor.

On the third floor is a large open buffet-style restaurant. The first floor has a few American fast-food joints and an S&M Market, a classier cheap restaurant chain that also sells cakes and pastries. The fourth floor has a little music shop that sells counterfeit guitars like Ovation and Fender. They did have an older Gibson hollow-body on one wall, and several amps and keyboards. I almost bought an Ovation clone for $70US, but I was worried about bringing it on the plane back to the states, so I passed on it.

The Thai people are very anti-confrontational. I have purchased bad CDs there, and all I had to do was bring them back and they were exchanged for good ones. One time when I was returning three bad movie CDs, there was a German gentleman who was very red-faced, yelling at two teenaged Thai boys. They looked as though they wished they could kick the living shit out of the obnoxious German, but they smiled and apologized. The German had received a bad CD and thought they were trying to cheat him (hmmm... cheat him for buying pirated software... there's a message in there somewhere). After he had treated them like shit, I said hello, I had a few bad video CDs and could I please have them exchanged. I ended up making the German look like a lout in front of his wife. The Thais were very nice, and I bought video CDs from them a few times after that. They remembered the big nice American and usually gave me an extra video CD in the bag (It was usually a porno video, but I wasn't complaining).

On the third floor is a large chain store similar to CompUSA, Best Buy and Circuit City. Their stuff was a bit more expensive, but it was genuine and backed by a warranty. The fifth floor also had a chain store, and it was more high-end, intended for businesses. Again, more expensive but backed with a warranty.

To get to Pantip Plaza, I'd recommend you take a taxi. Every driver knows where Pantip (pronounce it Pahn-Teep) is located. Taxi drivers are always hanging out by the street-level entrance. Sometimes you get dropped off on the wrong side of the street from Pantip; this is OK, since there is a bridge over the street going right to the third floor of the plaza.

The entire bottom open area is filled with merchants selling items in stalls. You can also find very old antique Buddhist-related religious items. Some of these are not for export, so be careful. I purchased a large brass giraffe statue for my wife in an antique stall for $35US, and it was appraised for $450US when I had it looked at in San Diego. One time there was a computer trade show going on, and they had a bunch of Xeon processors and servers on display.

Pantip Plaza is a good half-day outing. The street area surrounding the plaza is filled with small shops, and they are worth exploring. If you get out to Bangkok, give Pantip Plaza a visit.

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