One of my frustrations here in Philippines is the limited supply of arts & stationery stores, add to that the taxes levied on these and they can be unfriendly to the wallet. Yes, I know we have shops like that of Enriquez and Deovir but I’d like to be able to walk in an art supply store and browse around, to touch, to smell, to read, to experience and get giddy like a kid in a candy shop. I bought my first calligraphy supplies two years ago in Hong Kong (Artland HK) and Singapore (ArtFriend) and I remember spending at least 2 hours in those shops.
Whenever I’m in Thailand I do a mandatory stationery supplies hoarding in my favorite stores. Since I was traveling with my mom this time, I only have about 4-5 hours of “me” time to checkout my favorite shops.
So here’s a rough guide on shopping in KL and Thailand.
Exchange Rate at that time:
1 RM – 13 PHP
1 USD – 3.5 RM
We only spent half a day in KLCC and found out that the KLCC Suria Mall had a Kinokuniya bookstore, this is a Japanese franchise. They have a small and limited stationery section that sells Japanese brand paper and notebooks. I didn’t buy any of those but purchased lettering art brushes. These are hard to find in my local bookstore, in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen them and they were cheap, the smallest size was 1.50 RM (19 PHP) and the biggest was at 4.5 RM (57 PHP).
I totally forgot that KL has an ArtFriend branch, it’s a Singapore art supply franchise with loads of selection, and only realized it too late. Ah, well.
1 THB – 1.3 PHP
1 USD – 32 THB
Thailand is a hoarder’s paradise. LOL. You really can’t beat the prices here. Thailand has a thriving arts and creative scene and the specialty line products from Pentel, Kuretake and Zig have official distributors here so the prices are definitely cheaper.
TOKYU MBK – BANGKOK
(right off National Statidum BTS Station)
If I’m not mistaken this is also a Japanese franchise department store, they have a small but adequate stationery section. They have the most complete color selection of Pentel Art Brush Pens but can’t seem to find cartridges. They retail for 160 Baht, this is a standard price set by the Pentel Thai distributor. They have ZIG and Kuretake Japanese brush markers and pens, plus rows of pens and pencils. I purchased a bottle of Pilot fountain pen ink here for 75 Baht last year and I forgot to buy some this time.
555 Plus Paper – MBK
A store that sells cute adorable stationery and invitation supplies. This branch in MBK is the most accessible via BTS. Envelopes come in all sizes and colors. I can’t read Thai but I think if you buy less than 10 pcs, you will pay retail but if your purchase more than 10 it is sold by weight and comes out cheaper.
After you’re done. Go down and cross to the other building using the BTS walkway and go to:
BACC – Bangkok Art & Culture Centre | bacc.or.th
This is a several stories high building dedicated to contemporary arts exhibition in Bangkok, it’s FREE and open all year round. It’s one of my mandatory stops whenever in Bangkok. There are shops in the 2nd floor a few that sells specialty art supplies and stationery. I haven’t had time to check it out again. It’s a nice place to sip coffee, away from the frenzy of next door malls.
Now, you can walk through the elevated path and go to SIAM BTS station, check out:
Kinokuniya Bookstore | Siam Paragon
Unfortunately they don’t have a stationery section, only a handful of Moleskine notebooks that I don’t particularly care about, but they do have a wide range of design books and plethora of selection for calligraphy and lettering (mostly the top sellers list of Amazon.com)
Approximately 500 meters away from Siam Paragon is Central World. If you don’t have a lot of time just check out Central World Mall for they probably have most of what you need.
Siam Marketing – Central World
I was about to take the escalator when this shop caught my eye and decided to check it out. I’m glad I did, this is a store that specializes in manga anime art supplies. The prices are cheaper than the online retailers in the US, maybe 30% cheaper considering they have to pay premium for the mall space in Central World. Judging from the lady who assisted me here, it looks like a family run business. The people here are a pleasant bunch so I bought a lot from them. Some of the things that I’ve found here are
- Pentel Brush Pens, Kuretake Fude Brushes, Zig plus other brands
- Refill cartridges
- Platinum fountain pens (Preppy series)
- Sumi inks
- Deleter paper
- Japanese nibs (Takachiniwa, Nikko G and a broad calligraphy nib Japanese brand that I wish I bought.)
- Pilot Parallel
- Water brush pens
- Good quality Chinese calligraphy brushes
B2S Central World
The biggest stationery and bookstore in Thailand, found across the country in malls and Robinson’s department store. The branch is Central World is the biggest and I could easily spend two hours here trying out all the pens available for your to doodle with.
Things worth noting:
- Found Waterman fountain pen inks here but all that was left was blue! Someone else hoarded it.
- There were fountain pen cartridges, a Thai Brand that I forgot to take a picture of, plus some generic replacement nibs for fountain pen.
- Huge difference in prices of the gel pens here in PH:
Sakura Gelly Roll – 26 Baht, Pentel Hybrid Gel Grip – 35 Baht, Uni Signo – 39 baht or 53.00 Php in today’s rate, it currently retails at NBS for 112.00, that’s more than 100% price difference.
- There’s a good range of great affordable stationery supplies and notebooks. I was having a stationery boner. Some of my favorite Thai paper brands:
- Elephant Brand
- Thai Standard Merchandise Co., Ltd. Paper Products
I’ll try to be more thorough next time I visit, this shopping was done haphazard since I was traveling with an elderly person, therefore needed to go back to the hotel right away. Happy shopping, feel free to ask any questions!