Shopping in Thailand
Stall Shopping the visitors favourite
|The fall in the value of the currency by almost 50% against the US$ has now presented
the shopper with unparalleled opportunities. Apart from a wide selection of unique
locally-made goods, there are quality imported products from around the world.
Thailand's handicrafts are products of time-honoured cottage industries, and are
distinguished by superb craftsmanship.
|Shopping in Thailand is an adventure in itself. From modern department stores and
shopping plazas to flea markets and road-side stalls where bargaining is obligatory, even
visitors with the greatest will-power will no doubt find something to their liking. Fixed
prices are the norm in department stores, but at most other places bargaining is to be
expected. Generally you can obtain a final figure of between 10-40 percent lower than the
original asking price.
Much depends on your skills and the shopkeeper's mood. But remember, Thais appreciate
good manners and a sense of humour. With patience and a broad smile, you will not only get
a better price, you'll also enjoy shopping as an art.
Jewelery is usually high on visitors' lists when shopping, as there are quality items
available at competitive prices. However, always buy gems and jewelery at a reputable
specialist rather than a general souvenir shop.
Gold is a worth buying as an investment and also as ornaments, since it can be resold
in Thailand at current international prices. It is sold by the "baht" weight
(one baht of ornamental gold is equal to about 15.16 grams). When buying gold ornaments,
you will be charged for the weight of the gold content plus an amount for workmanship,
which varies according to the intricacy of each individual piece.
This is perhaps the best known of all Thailand's handicrafts, brought to the fore by
the legendary Jim Thompson. It is available in a range of colours, patterns and ply, and
is sold by the yard, or as ready-made clothing and souvenir items. Most hotels and
souvenir shops stock a range of Thai silk, but the best known outlet for this is
undoubtedly Jim Thompson's shop at the top of Surawong Road.
Flowers and Plants
There are many garland sellers in Northern Thai cities and numerous shops which are
easy to find.
Each province has its own local craft which is often sought after by visitors from
Bangkok and overseas. One could come up with an endless list, but to simplify matters, a
regional shopping list could read as follows. The North is well-known for its local
handicrafts, from wood carving to silverware, lacquerware, hilltribe clothing and ethnic
jewellery, and hand-painted umbrellas.
Chiang Mai Shopping
||Night Bazaar: Carries a good selection of all the above 'northern' items, and of
course, prices are negotiable. A great place to browse but be careful about quality.
Lacquer stall at the night bazaar
Old Chiang Mai Cultural Centre
(Chiang Mai-Hang Dong Road, next to the Chiang Mai Gate) The Old Chiang Mai Cultural
Centre gathers the northern Lanna Thai arts and culture within its compound. Here you can
see a hilltribe village and a Thai-style house. Souvenir shops offer all kinds of northern
handicrafts, while visitors are entertained with northern cultural performances in the
evenings during the northern-style Kantoke dinner. To enjoy this meal and shopping
extravaganza you can book from this link.
Cottage Industries, Crafts and Bo Sang Umbrella Village
Wood carvings at fantastic prices
Exquisite lacquer-ware to grace any home
|(9 kms from Chiang Mai on Highway 1006) This village is highly popular
with visitors. Colourful paper umbrellas are made and painted by hand with great skill and
speed. Sizes range from tiny miniatures that are perfect for souvenirs, to large garden
umbrellas. A little further down the same road is the cotton and silk village where
villagers weave silk and cotton material in the traditional fashion. The wide selection of
material available can be used for clothes and household decoration. On both sides of this
highway are a number of small villages that specialise in various handicraft such as
silverware, lacquerware, wood carving. The craftsmen have learned their techniques over
generations, and are proud of their intricate workmanship. A visit to this area is easily
arranged and can be pre-booked at this link.
Mae Sai is located 62 kms from Chiang Rai, and connects to Myanmar via Tha Khi Lek on
the opposite bank of the Mac Sai River. A bridge allows visitors to cross into Tha Khi Lek
to shop for Burmese products. A passport is needed, and a visa costs US$5.
Pa Sang Cloth Market
Pa Sang has long been famous for its local hand-woven cloth. The market at Pa Sang
offers batiks, silk, cotton, ready made clothes, hats, woodcarvings and assorted
Cottage Industries: Woven Fabrics
The woven fabrics in Thung Kwao, with their distinctive patterns and brocades, are made
on traditional looms using locally grown cotton and natural dye. In Ban Luang, the woven
fabrics are known for their unique border designs.
Celadon is a popular gift item
|Because Lampang has the finest kaolin deposit in Thailand, the celadon industry
flourishes there. Celadon factories line the road leading into town, and products are sold
in downtown shops.
This paper is made from mulberry, and is a versatile material that can be made into
umbrellas, lamps, artificial flowers. The local sa paper industry is located at Ban Nam
On-line shopping of Thai products please follow this link.
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