Thailand is a veritable shopping emporium, providing the average holiday maker with plenty of opportunity to incur some hefty excess baggage charges on their return journey home. Indeed, if you have a penchant for lightening your wallet when opportunity presents itself, then do be prepared to devote a significant portion of your holiday agenda to the Eastern consumer experience. Thais love shopping and so will you when you see the range and particularly the prices!
Shopping in Thailand is a varied scene with everything from modern electronic goods to ethnic handmade products and counterfeit designer wares. Invariably you’ll find vendors of a similar ilk situated in the same locations which makes things easy if you are looking for something specific. Apart from night market vendors that crowd the busy tourist areas with souvenir type items, there are plenty of shops and malls that are easily accessible and world class in their merchandise.
Often dubbed ‘The Land of Fakes’, Thailand is the place to find that perfect Gucci handbag, that tidy Lacoste polo shirt or that latest Hollywood move release; all copies, of course, and likely to raise some eyebrows with international customs officers should you be carrying excessive amounts.
The real-deal is also available but at prices akin to those of Western retailers. We don’t encourage the trade, but you can’t avoid it in tourist areas. Do, however, pop into the legitimate shops where you might find the real thing considerably cheaper than you would pay back home.
Handicrafts and textiles are big business and you’ll find no shortage of places to pick them up with the weekend or night markets of various cities, presenting the best options and the most competitive prices. Computer hardware and electronic entertainment equipment are also widely available but you probably won’t find them any cheaper than back home, unless they are items manufactured here in Thailand such as memory upgrades and pc accessories.
Popular places in Bangkok for shopping include the malls around Siam Square, Khao San Road, Suan Lum Night Bazaar and, of course, the massive and extremely popular Chatuchak Weekend Market. Do leave some time during your Bangkok visit (preferably at the end) to browse the malls and markets here. You’ll find an astonishing range and attractive prices.
Up in the country’s second biggest city of Chiang Mai, there’s Kad Suan Kaew and Airport Plaza for mall-style shopping, the famous Sunday Walking Street market, JJ’s Craft Market and the extensive and heavily tourist-trodden Night Bazaar. Phuket has a couple of malls away from the tourist beaches, while Pattaya’s are right among the action. In Samui and other island areas you’ll find more limited options.