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Bangkok Goth & kawaii fashion shops! Morph8ne clothing, drag queen mall, Thailand gay club Maggie Choo’s.

morph8ne clothing bangkok thailand fashion

Don’t be Cross with me… or you might get a stake through the heart!

It’s been a busy few months, and I’ve fallen behind on recapping my Asia travels. As I pray for your forgiveness, I’ll continue with our adventures in Thailand. 

morph8ne goth grunge street fashion label

If you’re looking for Gothic, alternative and experimental fashion in Bangkok, then this post has everything you’ll need. We’ll sashay into a drag queen mall, and work the stage at LGBT club Maggie Choo’s (with RuPaul’s Drag Race Thailand host, Pangina Heals!) 

goth bangkok thailand shop

While in Bangkok, I was delighted to connect with the team at Morph8ne Clothing. They are one of my favorite independent designers (from these spooky elegant photos, you can easily tell why).  

gothic stores shopping bangkok thailand

For a long time, I’ve been online friends with the Morph8ne girls, and loved wearing their clothing around the world. It was a devilish treat to finally met them in Bangkok, Thailand where they are based!

modeling gothic clothing thailand

They kindly invited Yukiro and me to visit their fashion studio (access is by private appointment only), and model their latest designs. 

morph8ne clothing designers

The all-women team is so sweet, and their personal style epitomized the brand. The founder (second from right) is named Morphine, hence the name of the label. The ladies work together on the design and production.

occult witch bangkok thailand

Morph8ne’s design studio is decorated with elegant Gothic flourishes. The walls are adorned with antique portraits, crosses, and haunting artwork. 

outcast street style store bangkok

This rack showed their latest collection at the time: we couldn’t get enough of the purple garments! Morph8ne uniquely combines influences from Japanese Gothic Lolita, grunge, 90s, and pastel Goth — a delectable witches’ brew. 

thailand spooky haunted gothic

I loved seeing Morphine’s creative process at her studio, including mood boards for upcoming wardrobes (which I can’t show you!) Their dark dolly clothing is always made ethically, and in small batches. 

You can browse and purchase designs through Morph8ne’s website — they ship worldwide. They’re also stocked by some Asia boutiques, like Never Mind the Xu in Tokyo, and Outcast street style store in Bangkok.

goth shops stores bangkok

This studio is not open to the public, so I’m grateful that the Morph8ne girls let us take a look behind the scenes. We were captivated by Morphine’s collection of horror oddities, displayed in a glass case at the entrance.

gollum toy collection figurines

Living Dead dolls, skulls, crucifixes… and Gollum.

antique book purse spell book bag

How lovely is this purple-edged Spell Book purse, featuring their heart and cross logo? 

morph8ne goth grunge dress

Next, we got to play dress-up and take photos. I’m wearing a Bad Mood dress, featuring red ribbon tie straps and the adorably emo heart character. 

purple faux fur jacket pants

Yukiro went for an ultraviolet look. Morph8ne uses textures fabulously, from faux fur to sheer panels and accent patches. 

giant cross crucifix vampire goth girl

Cheeky ruffled heart patches on the back of my red Madly miniskirt… they double as pockets.

morph8ne heart pants bad mood

Bringing on the darkness, with a crop top (check out the trailing ribbon sleeve detailing) and one-of-a-kind heart cut out pants. 

morphine stores studio thailand goth

If you like what you see, you can find these Gothic-girly fashions on Morph8ne’s web store. The prices are incredibly reasonable for the high quality and originality of the pieces, and we encourage you to support these lovely ladies. 

bangkok thailand goths alternative punk

To quote their latest collection: “Sisterhood is forever whether you like it or not.” 

Thank you Morph8ne for opening your dark hearts to us! 

maggie choo's gay nightclub bangkok

We encountered more fab fashion… at the most decadent gay and drag club in Bangkok, Maggie Choo’s. When you step in, you’ll be greeted by muscled, shirtless men in turbans swinging from the rafters. 

The nightclub looks like an opium den with 19th century style lamps, velvet curtains, and Grecian marble bust statues. The venue holds a variety of live performances and dance parties. However, we came for Maggie Choo’s famous Sunday night drag queen party. 

pangina heals, thailand rupaul drag race host

Every Sunday, you can see the best Thai drag queens strut the stage, and entertain the crowd with sassy banter. The drag show is hosted in both English and Thai by the vivacious Pangina Heals, the host of “RuPaul’s Drag Race Thailand” TV show. 

drag performers ladyboys bangkok

Thailand is known for its next-level drag queens — and at Maggie Choo’s, the performers truly brought it. The fashion and lip-synching were top class; Yukiro was surprised when this Gothic queen performed an obscure track, Malena Ernman’s Tragedy song. which he also uses in his shows. 

“Here comes the tragedy, The sound of agony, The tears you love to cry, The pain that wants no remedy…”

thailand drag queen shows performances

We’ll never forget this rousing rendition of Sia’s “Titanium.” This queen wrapped herself in a plastic tube, which protected her from objects that others threw at her… talk about symbolism at its funniest!

pangina heals thai drag queen, maggie choo's club

Pangina Heals performed with powerful energy and charm, demonstrating why she’s the host of the Thailand RuPaul’s Drag Race TV show. Between sets, she entertains the crowd with banter. If you can name the disco tune that the DJ plays, Pangina will invite you onstage to do a shot with her.

On a Sunday night, Maggie Choo’s is the LGBT club to be in Bangkok.  

lgbt clubs bangkok thailand

Where do Bangkok’s showgirls and drag performers get their wild wardrobes? The secret spot is Watergate Mall, which looks like a small and unimpressive shopping center. 

watergate mall bangkok thailand

However, when you walk inside, you’ll be bombarded by feathers and glitter! Nicknamed the “drag mall,” Watergate Bangkok has several floors of small shops, filled with flamboyant creations by locals.

drag queen dresses bangkok
Be sure to visit Hutcha, a talented Bangkok designer. Admire his mannequins, who are dressed in mermaid dresses with gauzy ruffs. (Not sure how you’d get through the doorway, in some of these ballgowns!)

costumes showgirls clothing bangkok

Hutcha can also custom-make a garment in any style you please (how about a space pirate suit?) 

bangkok headdresses thai shopping

Walk around Watergate Mall, and you’ll find all sorts of showy garments. Admire the traditional Thai theater costumes, or shop for holographic jumpsuits.

gold thai headpieces crowns

You’ll be overwhelmed by the options for glitzing up your wardrobe. Bargaining is welcome, at accessories and headdresses stores like this one. 

goth queen skull crown

Watergate Mall is an excellent place to find costume jewelry, and experimental pieces such as headpieces covered in spikes. Or how about this crown decorated with a skull and cobwebs? 

drag queen dresses bangkok

The prices vary widely. Yukiro got this purple dressing gown with trailing sleeves for a steal. Other items, such as this glittery military gown, can be $1000+.

thailand crazy accessories hats

Those giant earrings look like they’d be a pain to wear… but that’s the price of fab fashion, isn’t it? 

siam discovery mall interior design

For fashion that’s less “out-there” but till outstanding, I recommend heading to Siam Paragon and Siam Discovery malls. This is my favorite spot to see Thai indie clothing all in one place. 

ecotopia eco fashion boutiques bangkok

Ascend to the upper levels and wander through Ecotopia. This department is all about ethical and eco-friendly goods. I eyed the organic cotton dresses and home products, and took home a few packets of local herbal curry. 

little twin stars scarves

Cross over to Siam Center, and you’ll be confronted by a variety of cute, hip fashion geared towards younger shoppers. 

hello kitty scarf, bangkok shop

This scarf store had a collaboration with Sanrio. There’s a limited edition “sawasdee” Hello Kitty shawl, as well as some featuring Little Twin Stars and Moomin. 

jelly bunny shoe bags store thailand

Those who love playful fashion will adore Jelly Bunny, a local line of kitschy shoes and purses. When you walk in, you’ll be welcomed by a large, sparkling pastel-pink rabbit statue. 

space rocket astronaut purses bags

Jelly Bunny has a huge range of “jelly” shoes, the malleable style that was big in the 90s. I was tempted to get one of their space-inspired holographic purses, shaped like astronauts or sleepy crescent moons. 

flynow eccentric fashion bangkok

Don’t miss out on the psychedelic Flynow store, also in Siam Center. You’ll run into colorful lions and bears dressed in the funky designer’s clothing.  

thailand weird experimental clothing fly now

Flynow’s designs stand out for being high-end – the brand presents at Bangkok Fashion Week – yet playful, with a pop-culture bent. The experimental garments include rainbow dresses, and bedazzled jeans with cartoon character faces. 

pink pvssy accessories store thailand

We also enjoyed roaming through Pink Pvssy, a quirky accessories store with multiple locations. Pink Pvssy carries every accessory you can imagine, from giant bead necklaces to 3D lion’s-head backpacks. You can even pick up a human-sized inflatable alien!

bloody bunny thailand rabbit

Finally, we popped into Bloody Bunny and Friends cafe. This Thai mascot is a mix between cute and frightening: note the bloodshot eyes, bent stitched ear and knife. 

cute characters theme cafe bangkok

Bloody Bunny’s friends are similarly spooky-cute. Get to know a growling, frowning bear (Serious Kuma) and a raven dressed like a plague doctor. This is a great place to pick up adorable themed goods, such as notebooks and toys. 

bloody bunny themed cafe

Then, head to the Bloody Bunny theme cafe. You can sip a red slushy, or munch on snacks served in bowls with his evil eyes.

touring bird tours activities travel tips writing

I hope you found these dark and alternative Bangkok tips helpful — or at least, frightful!

I also wrote about many of these places for Touring Bird, the new Google Area120 travel tips site. You can find all my Touring Bird tips for Bangkok here, as well as my underground guides for other cities worldwide.

(If you’re heading to Thailand, I contributed Touring Bird tips for Hua Hin, Krabi, and Ko Samui — plus many other major destinations in Asia. Thanks for checking out my writing on Google’s new travel website!)

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Visiting Bangkok’s lesser-known temples with Tours By Locals! Wat Ratcha-Orasaram & Kalayanamit Thailand.

travel bloggers gold buddha statue bangkok

Let’s start this Thailand temple diary in a fitting way… with an Italo Disco song!

“One night in Bangkok and the world’s your oyster
The bars are temples but the pearls ain’t free,
You’ll find a god in every golden cloister
And if you’re lucky then the god’s a she.
I can feel an angel sliding up to me!”

Wat Arun Ratchawararam

I think you can tell we had a fun time exploring Bangkok temples, with Tours By Locals! Our insider guide took us on a fully customized journey that included the demon protectors of Wat Arun…

bangkok emerald buddha temple gate gods

… and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha. (How do you like my “sun protection schoolgirl” outfit of the day?)

tours by locals bangkok thailand tour

I can’t stand basic, big group tours — which is why I teamed up instead with Tours By Locals. They link travellers with passionate local guides, and create a custom itinerary off the beaten track. 

My friends and I were keen to see Thai Buddhist art and spirituality, without crowds elbowing us. Our guide Kay listened to our preferences, and delivered by taking us to obscure temples (like Wat Kalayanamit) that were literally empty of tourists. 

learning thai cartoon bangkok

As you’ll see, the day tour was a joy, and left us buzzing with knowledge and inspiration. Kay picked us up and gave us an overview of Thai Buddhist culture, along with a primer on helpful phrases. Becky Hawkins made this terrific reaction drawing of her and her “shoulder angel”! 

thai protector lion gods statues

I have been to Thailand twice before, but it’s always a joy to return (and this was the first visit for Yukiro, Naomi, and Becky). Even though Bangkok is now an extremely popular destination, you can still enjoy the warm, welcoming Buddhist culture. 

row gold buddha statues thailand

So many temples, so little time… There are over 400 “wats” in Bangkok alone. The most famous ones (Wat Pra Kaew, Wat Arun, Wat Pho) are certainly worth seeing if you’re here for the first time. Kay made sure we got to peek around Wat Arun, but focused most of our tour on temples where tourists rarely tread. 

thai gold buddha statue

A reflective moment in front of the Golden Buddha statue at Wat Arun Ratchawararam. Also known as the Temple of Dawn, it dates back to the 17th century, and is known for its glowing exterior at sunrise. (More photos at the end of this post.)

Wat Phra Kaew statue gate

We also said hello to the giant demon yaksha, guarding the Grand Palace at Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha). Don’t avoid these sacred sites, simply because they’re popular — they’re among the most impressive ones in Thailand. 

chinese thai buddhist temple bangkok

We struck a balance by visiting those two landmarks quickly, and then took our time to wander around two little-known temples on the outskirts of Bangkok.

(I’m wearing a Boy UV umbrella, Mary Wyatt London shirt, Lola Ramona heart bag, and Japanese plaid skirt similar to the ones below.)

bangkok obscure buddhist temple

We’re at Wat Ratcha-Orasaram, a royal monastery built in the Ayutthaya period. The prince was influenced by both Thai and Chinese art, hence the unusual temple colors and carvings. 

Wat Kanlayanamit bangkok

Can you spot Yukiro beneath the colored eaves and white pillars? You can see I’m not exaggerating when I said there was nobody else around during our visit. In bustling Bangkok, it was a joy to take our time to meander through this peaceful monastery. 

temple hopping bangkok sketch

We said hello to the resident golden Buddha icon. Becky Hawkins made this drawing that gives you a sense of the ornate detail of the altar. In this unhurried atmosphere, she and Naomi could take all the time they wanted to draw their surroundings. 

thailand devil demon sculpture

Yukiro and I mosied around and took photos of the fascinating details. Of course we were drawn to the metallic demon on this red door, with a fierce grimace and horns. 

thai buddha gold seated statue

Love the elegant features of the Buddha, sitting in the lotus position. The chandeliers, candles and surrounding murals add to the radiant feeling of the room. 

white buddhist stupas bangkok

As a fan of minimalist design, these white stupas spoke to me. (They house the remains of Buddhist monks and nuns, or sacred relics.)

bangkok monastery sketch drawing

Naomi Rubin sketched the residence of the monks. It was surrounded by shrubbery that looked like it had been pruned by Edward Scissorhands! She has been posting these travel drawings as part of her web comic Moonsprout Station; you can read the Thailand dispatches here.

gold buddha fan in front face

We were glad to have our Tours by Locals guide Kay with us, as he introduced us to these secret spots and answered all our questions. Whats’s the deal with the fan in front of the Buddha’s face? Is he being coy? Kay explained this traditional fan with a long handle was made of talipot palm leaves, and used to cover the face while chanting.

bangkok buddhist temple big bell

We dared not disturb the Buddha’s repose by ringing the giant bell.

Wat Ratcha-Orasaram bangkok

There was so much to see at Wat Ratcha-Orasaram, including sculptures of all sizes dedicated to the Buddha.

gold reclining buddha

In the Ordination Hall, we came across this giant gold reclining Buddha. Love the chill expression in his eyes. 

travel sketches art thailand

Becky Hawkins captured Kay in action. We couldn’t have seen all these temples and learned so much without his guidance. 

big gold feet buddha

Close-up on the Buddha’s extra large feet, with toes all lined up. 

sleeping side buddha statue bangkok

Looks like Yukiro wants to join Siddhartha in hanging out!

thai buddhist monk Wat Ratcha-Orasaram

We saw a few monks walking through the courtyards, wearing their signature vermilion robes over one shoulder.

thai traveling drawings

Becky Hawkins sketched these scenes from daily life in a Thai Buddhist monastery. 

thai protector statues door

Yukiro and I got some posing inspiration from these green yakshas.

gold leaf ancient buddha

Seeing art and architecture like this, firsthand… this is why we live to travel.

female travel bloggers thailand meditation

“When the mind is silent like a lake, the lotus blossoms.” – The Lotus Sutra

tours by locals guide thailand

Kay then took us to Wat Kalayanamit Varamahavihara — the name means “friendship.” Founded in 1825, this is one of the most tranquil temples in the city. (Once again, you can see there’s nobody around us!)

buddhist architecture bangkok

From the trees to the rooftop carvings, everything is richly yet subtly decorated. 

gold meditating thai buddha

Many Buddhists come to a Wat Kalayanamitr for New Years blessings. The gold Buddha statue has a slim frame and long earlobes, and is the only Thai temple to feature him in Palilai posture. 

red circular chinese temple door

Such fun to visit the “friendship” temple with friends I’ve known through thick and thin, for over 10 years now!

rare buddhist temmples thailand

The gold, red, and green details make the white structures stand out.

thai monastery monks

This wat is also a monk’s residence. If you come across any visitors here, they’ll be locals performing spiritual rituals. 

thailand travel blogging

When visiting Thai temples, you should cover your shoulders and knees. I’m wearing a short tartan skirt like the ones below (click to see).

buddhist temple carvings

Grateful to Tours By Locals for letting us see this special side of Bangkok. We would never have heard of these monasteries if it weren’t for Kay.

wat arun temple

We’ll finish off at Wat Arun. Kay took us here in the early morning so that we could avoid the hoards of visitors. We were transfixed by this towering prang, or Khmer-style tower, studded with porcelain carvings. 

wrong use buddha symbols tattoo

There were quite a few signs and billboards around Bangkok with this message: don’t use the image of the Buddha in tattoos, bar decor, and other ways they consider disrespectful.

Wat Arun Ratchawararam

This huge central prang is covered in stucco figures from Hindu and Buddhist mythology. The various levels symbolize the realms of existence.

bangkok temple of dawn carvings

These “Khon” figures have a heavy load on their shoulders, wouldn’t you say?

bangkok Wat Chaeng painting

Naomi Rubin made this gorgeous watercolor of the mythical demons, with arms and a foot raised. (In the next Bangkok posts, you’ll see more of her works. She and Becky added a new dimension to these travel stories through their art.)

wat arun temple tour guide

“Khob kun” to Kay for teaching us how to say thank you in Thai (and for taking us around on this fabulous day-tour.)

rainbow art bangkok thailand

Close-up on the artistic details at Wat Arun. Some of the 3D elements are seashells. 

wat arun art carvings

Ready for another Italo Disco refrain? 

“One night in Bangkok and the tough guys tumble
Can’t be too careful with your company
I can feel the devil walking next to me.”

white buddhist goddesses thailand

Elegant goddesses peered out from these arches. 

Demon Guardian statues holding wat arun

Work that asana (pose)! 

lola ramona heart purse bag stripes

Also known as Wat Chaeng, this temple is dedicated to Aruna (Hindu God of Dawn). Located by the river, these spires sparkle at sunrise and sunset. 

wat arun temple drawing ink

Becky’s take on the grand pagoda. Love how she captured the horse sculpture detail.

If you’re heading to Bangkok (or any major destination), give Tours By Locals a look. As you can see from our temple hop, they help you get the most out of your destination — with entirely bespoke private tours led by a fantastic guide. 

I teamed up with Tours by Locals in Luang Prabang, Laos as well: check out this travel diary of our waterfall trek. 

cross legged seated buddha

I hope you enjoyed our Bangkok travel photos and art so far, and there’s more to come. Leaving you with love and the Diamond Sutra:

Thus shall you think of all this fleeting world:
A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream;
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud,
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.

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