When it’s really hot in Bangkok, and it usually is, it’s nice to go to shopping malls.
It sounds lame, but I promise that as a Western tourist you have probably never seen a shopping mall like those that exist in Bangkok. The glitz. The Prada. The high ceilings. The freezingly delicious blasts of air conditioning.
And the startling thing about some of these very high-end shopping malls, is that not only can you as an elephant-pants-wearing tourist walk around these malls without being trailed by security, but you can also eat durian inside them.
Not on the subway or the MRT. Never in a bus. Your hotel room? Forget about it.
The Siam Paragon Shopping Mall? You have not one but many durian options.
After You Durian
In 2017, a popular dessert chain called “After You” decided to open a branch dedicated just to durian.
The first time I visited just after it opened, the queue was so long we never managed to get a table.
But a year later, by April 2018, things had calmed down enough that when my parents came to visit we just picked a table and sat down.
The menu is based on frozen durian, probably of the Monthong variety.
Most of it isn’t vegan, even the stuff that’s usually safe like Durian Kakigori.
In other cafes, this is just a block of frozen durian that is shaved into an impressively fluffy mound of airy, durian-rich aroma.
But at After You durian, the Durian Sticky Rice Kakigori (shaved ice) was made from a block of durian + milk + sugar that was shaved.
I ended up with the Durian Frappe because they could leave out the milk on request. It’s ice, a few scoops of frozen durian, coconut milk, and a lot of syrup, blended into a very smooth, very cold, very thick milk shake.
My parents went for the durian ice cream. They tasted both, and said that the durian ice cream was better because it had a strong durian flavor.
Gourmet Market at Siam Paragon
Yes, it’s unnecessarily expensive. But if you’ve been in Southeast Asia long enough to miss a good salad bar and a wheat grass shot, it’s kind of…nice.
And if you’re desperate for durian and willing to pay, they always have some. Always.
Even in October. Even in February.
They get durian from everywhere in Thailand, and they pay attention to regionality when they set up the tables.
I’ve seen Monthong from Si Sa Ket, Pala-U, and even Pattani.
And they bring in different varieties that you might not easily find at outdoor durian stalls around Bangkok or markets.
I’ve seen Linlaplae and Longlaplae durians from Uttaradit, Nockrachip and Puangmanee, Ganyao and Chanee.
I was also impressed to see that they label open the durians by ripeness; so you can pick your durian texture and flavor.
Most impressive of all was the price.
Premium varieties like the Laplae durians sold for 699 baht per kilo, making each durian a whopping 800-1,000 baht ($28-31 USD).
Even Chanee, which is usually the cheapest variety, was selling at 150 baht/kilo on my trip there last week. As I write from Chanthaburi, the cost for Chanee is around 60 baht/kilo. That’s more than double the price.
But sometimes there’s more to the price than just what you eat — the convenience of getting multiple varieties in one stop without having to travel out to the farms, eating in the comfort of a blast-freezer air-conditioning after the swampy heat of a car-exhaust filled city — that kind of thing.
Other Durian Products
If you like durian products (like freeze dried durian, durian chips or jam or durian-flavored seaweed or jellies or chewing gum), Gourmet Market is also a good one-stop-shop-spot.
I found at least 4 brands of freeze-dried durian, and they have free samples to help you select what you want.
It’s a way to pass a hungry and hot afternoon hunting Bangkok durian.
How to get to Siam Paragon
There are many ways to get to Siam Paragon Mall.
Boat The canal boat is definitely the best way to beat rush hour traffic and also a little-used but excellent way to do some sightseeing. Get off at the Pratu Nam or Hua Chang and walk about 10 minutes to the mall.
BTS Sky Train Two lines of the BTS Sky Train stop at Siam Station, just adjacent to the mall. Easiest way to move between air-conditioned spaces.
Taxi If you have more than 2 people in your group, taxis are cheaper than the BTS Sky Train. However, if it’s rush hour traffic it might still be worth taking public transit.
Grab Taking a Grab is technically illegal in Thailand, and the Grab driver might abandon you if there’s any police around. A Grab is usually more expensive than a metered taxi ride, but it is also more convenient than haggling with taxi drivers who won’t use a meter and want 3x the price, or who might refuse to take you at all because traffic is bad or the location is inconvenient.