IT hub Pantip Plaza to unveil new look

Caption. photo: Sasiwimon Boonruang

A decade ago, everyone had only one destination in mind to buy a computer, install software (legit or otherwise), or fix broken devices: Pantip Plaza. Before the spread of computer centres and online shopping, the building on Phetchaburi Road was where the latest models of hardware and new versions of software were always available. Some of them were on sale at Pantip even before the official announcement from developers.

But a rapid transformation in technology and consumer behaviour changed the landscape of IT shopping. Pantip Plaza became somewhat rundown, its nooks and crannies crammed with messy shops, and soon its reputation as the country's IT hub faded.

But this Monday, Pantip will return. It has taken two years of massive renovation and the new Pantip will be rebranded as Tech Life Mall.

Even though some renovated areas are not fully complete, Pantip today has a fresh and friendly ambience (compared to the darkly lit corners that came to characterise the place in the past). Forget the intense vibe of hard-core IT people crowding around stalls of a decade ago: the new Pantip now has a larger space for strolling, and even for trying balance wheels, scooters and drones.

"We position ourselves as a fun place for shopping, and we broaden the target groups to kids and teenagers. Meanwhile we will also draw our customer base in the past back here," said Sansern Na Patthalung, asset manager of Asset World Estate, the operator of Pantip Plaza.

The 36,000m² mall will boast 300 IT dealers, gadgets, gaming, enterprise solution products and a co-working space. Represented at Tech Life Mall are global tech companies like Thailand's Intel Microelectronics -- which sponsors an e-sports arena -- while Microsoft and Google showcase their innovations at the "Experience Zone", where visitors can experience the technology evolution created by both tech giants.

Following the latest trend of start-ups, Pantip will offer co-working space. Called Syn Hub, it will provide various innovative technologies ranging from 3D printers, mechanics supporting the industrial internet of things, embedded electronic systems designs and radio frequency identification systems.

During renovation, the building wasn't completely closed. Over the past months, it has slowly opened different parts of the new development, attracting about 20,000 visitors a day. However, the fully-renovated Pantip expects to attract 35,000-40,000 people per day by the end of this year.

Even though there are many new locations in Bangkok where IT and electronic goods are available, Pantip remained a favourite destination for foreigners visiting Thailand, and they will definitely still recognise this site.

For those who are looking for software and CDs, either copyrighted or pirated, visiting Tech Life Mall will not disappoint you.

-- Sasiwimon Boonruang

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