If bargains and beautiful, unusual things are what you’re looking for, then Thailand has to be one of the best places in the world to go shopping. Polish up your haggling skills – vendors actually get offended if you don’t barter with them – and get shopping! Shopping in Thailand is so much fun. Here are a few hints and tips…
Where to Shop
Markets sprawl the streets, even the rivers, of every town in Thailand, so you’ll never be far away from a good buy.
This capital city Bangkok is quickly developing in areas, where high-rise stores such as the World Trade Centre offer products at the cutting-edge of technology and fashion. Sukhumvit is the main shopping area. If you are a backpacker in this city you’ll find it hard to miss the Khao San Road, which is lined with stalls and open-fronted shops offering everything from fake designer clobber, jewellery, pirate DVDs and CDs to tacky, but essential, souvenirs.
For an unusual experience, visit the floating market at Damnoen Saduak, just outside of Bangkok – get there by bus and arrive between 8-10am. It’s one of the best experiences you’re going to have when shopping in Thailand.
Chiang Mai, capital of the north, has the wondrous Night Bazaar – which I consider to be the best market I’ve ever come across. It’s massive – with stalls crammed along both sides of the pavement on a long road, so your head swivels from side to side as you try to take in the array of all sorts of amazing products.
The Southern Islands
Again, more market stalls dotted about, but this time they’re laden with tropical print bikinis, faux designer sunglasses, sarongs, headscarves and sandals.
What to buy when shopping in Thailand
Fake designer gear – from shoes and clothes to watches – cost a smidgen of what you would pay up west but still look authentic. A tailored suit. If you haven’t already been dumped at one by a tuk-tuk driver who you’d actually told to go to the Grand Palace, you’ll see loads of suit-maker shops in all major towns and cities. They measure you up, you wait a couple of days and get a perfectly-made suit for a bargain price. An item made of Thai silk – bag, kimono, skirt. A cotton sarong – they come in all sorts of beautiful colours and prints, are highly useful for all manner of things while travelling and cost about £2. At least one Hello Kitty product. That little white kitty can be found on anything, everywhere, in Thailand – I even saw car rear-view mirrors set in jolly Hello Kitty frames! An embroidered cushion cover – there’s some beauties about.
What to buy and ship home
Those really cool multi-coloured floor cushions with the Toblerone-shaped back-rest that you see everywhere in Thailand. A wooden table with elephants carved in it.
How much is it likely to cost?
The pound is usually strong against the baht and everything is at rock-bottom prices.
What I bought when shopping in Thailand
Trek sandals, £1.50, from Chiang Mai night market. Lilac Thai silk backless top, £4, from Khao San Road. Peach strappy top with gold embroidery, £3, Khao San Road. Pink and blue Thai silk handbag, £3, from a stall in World Trade Centre. White muslin kaftan-style top, £1, Khao San Road. Pink and yellow tropical-print cotton sarong, £1.50, from Chiang Mai night market. Sunglasses, £2, stall on Ko Tao. Silk kimono, £5, from Khao San Road.
Total shopping spree: £20
What my boyfriend bought when shopping in Thailand
Fake Oakley sunglasses, £4, shop on Ko Phangan Ditto shorts, £3, from Khao San Road. Fake No Fear combats, £4, and T-shirt, £3, from Khao San Road. Fake Cat and Vans shoes, £5 for each pair, from Khao San Road.
Total shopping spree: £24
So there’s no need to break the bank in Thailand!