Shopping in Thailand is on the bucket list of many travellers and for good reason. With so many choices, what to buy and where to shop can be questions that are very hard to answer! So why is Thailand so famous as a shopper’s paradise?
For one thing, the Thai baht compares favourably to most currencies, which means that shopping in Thailand is enticingly cheap! For the same budget, you can get a LOT more in Thailand than you could in Europe or America.
The other reason why shopping is among the top things to do in Thailand is the sheer variety of goods on offer. You could pick up food items to recreate the flavours of Thailand in your own kitchen, artefacts and furniture to decorate your home, clothing and accessories to look fashionable while you travel, and much more.
In this Thailand shopping guide, we’ll tell you about the things that you must buy in Thailand and the places where you can get them. It’s true that Thailand is a budget shopper’s dream come true, but in the capital city Bangkok, there is no shortage of luxury malls either.
Thailand Shopping List
At departmental stores and small-sized malls, you will find a plethora of clothing items and accessories including shirts, t-shirts, and shorts for men, breezy summer dresses, tops, and jeans for women, and an array of earrings, necklaces, bracelets, and scarves.
At weekend markets, night markets, and floating markets, you can splurge on edibles. Buy snacks and street food to eat on the spot, or go crazy picking up fresh fruits and vegetables, spices and sauces, accessories, and handicrafts.
You will also encounter beautiful furniture items in Thailand, including handmade wooden carvings and statues with the Buddha, Ganesha, and other religious figures featuring frequently. You can also buy exquisite ceramics and antiques in Thailand.
Thailand Shopping Places
There are mainly three kinds of shopping to be done in Thailand. For the bargain hunter and fashion enthusiast, there is nothing like the mini-sized malls and departmental stores, where numerous vendors display their wares in the open, but under the same roof. These kinds of stores abound in Bangkok and other major cities in Thailand.
To combine shopping, dining, and sightseeing, head to one of the many outdoor markets in Thailand. These are found on the streets, by the river, on floating boats, and even along railway lines. Be ready to bargain and keep your Thai phrasebook ready!
For luxury shopping, you can make a beeline for one of the mega-sized malls in Bangkok. With multiple levels, these places are stocked with well-known brands from across the world, covering everything from clothing to shoes and perfumes.
Bangkok Shopping Guide
What to buy in Bangkok
You should definitely update your summer wardrobe while you’re in Bangkok. Note that sizes may be on the smaller size given the stature of Thai people. At the outdoor markets and smaller malls, you will not be able to try on clothing; so carrying a measuring tape may help. Also look out for stylish handbags.
If you like aromatic bathing items, you will love the fruit soaps at Chatuchak Market. They only cost around a dollar each. More aromatic lotions and shower gels are available at the shopping centres. Bangkok is also a great place to get handmade jewellery and unique pieces to compliment your outfits.
Thai silk is not just for clothing; you can also buy beautiful tablecloths and pillow covers made of smooth Thai silk. Strangely enough, Bangkok is a good place to get Thai medicines like anti-cough pills, Tiger balm, and peppermint inhalers.
At the food stores, you will find a variety of dried fruits, coconut milk, Thai curry paste, and coconut oil. A unique item to snack on while in Bangkok are crispy seaweed, which are a bit like potato chips. You might also want to pick up instant noodles.
Where to shop in Bangkok
Chatuchak Market is the biggest weekend flea market in Bangkok but Chinatown Market is also worth a visit. There are also many wonderful floating and night markets in and around Bangkok, including Damnoen Saduak Floating Market, Taling Chan, Amphawa Floating Market, Rot Fai Market, and Asiatique the Riverfront.
Thailand’s largest shopping complex is located in Bangkok and it’s called Central World. And then there’s Emporium, where you can also watch a movie and have dinner at the food hall. To shop well-known Thai brands, plan a visit to Gaysorn. For budget shopping, MBK Center and Platinum Fashion Mall won’t disappoint.
Siam Paragon is one of the biggest shopping malls in Thailand, and features a dazzling array of luxury brands including Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Burberry, Jimmy Choo, and more. For some duty-free and tax-free retail therapy, head to King Power Complex, where you can purchase the best of clothing, shoes, and perfumes.
Phuket Shopping Guide
What to buy in Phuket
Splurge on clothing, accessories, handbags, footwear, cosmetics, handicrafts, jewellery and accessories, toys, electronics, and custom-made souvenirs while in Phuket. Phuket is particularly good for buying gifts for friends and family back home.
Where to shop in Phuket
Choose between weekend markets, night markets, shopping centres, and mid-sized stores in Phuket. Phuket Weekend Market or Naka Market is a great place to buy used products that are in good condition. You can get handbags made of cane, colourful scarves and stoles, trinkets, and other souvenirs that are also nice for gifting.
Banana Road in front of Patong Beach is a must-visit after you’ve had your fill of the beach. The stylishly designed shopping centre features numerous clothing and cosmetic brands as well as places to drink wine and beer. At Central Festival, you can get toys for your kids, as well as numerous household goods and sportswear.
Premium Outlet is a must-visit as it is home to 300 outlets of top brands offering their goods at a discount of up to 70%. The mall is known for its collection of clothing and accessories outlets. Jungceylon Shopping Complex is also great for luxury shopping and electronics. You can also get a massage, watch a movie, go bowling, or have a meal.
Walking Street is a weekly market selling attractive jewellery, footwear, and handicrafts. Come here for your fill of local and handmade goods. There’s a trampoline for kids which means you can shop in peace! At Indy Market, you can watch live performances, try Thai pancakes, and purchase customized gifts and souvenirs such as key chains and stencilled rice grains.
OTOP Market is unique in that every outlet features goods from a different district of Thailand. This means that you can sample products from all over the country. Make sure you buy silken Thai shirts and skirts. Chillva Night Market is great for shopping as well as dining, while Karon Bazaar has a vibrant ambience that will keep you in good spirits.
Chiang Mai Shopping
What to buy in Chiang Mai
Shopping in Chiang Mai is quite different from Bangkok or Phuket. Handicrafts and silverware fashioned by local artisans take centre stage in this city with a storied past. Make sure you buy beautiful lacquerware such as bowls, jewellery boxes, and bracelets. The items are usually black with golden designs.
Many tribes reside in the hills and are particularly good at making embroidered bags and handicrafts, which you will find on sale at the markets. In Chiang Mai, you will also find lovely paper umbrellas, silken clothing and furnishings, and pots and ceramics.
Budget shoppers will be delighted to find copies of branded goods and cheap watches and sunglasses. Other things to buy in Chiang Mai include wooden carvings, summer scarves, woollen caps, soaps in beautiful shapes and colours, and leather sandals. Chiang Mai also has its fair share of electronics shops and food stalls.
Where to shop in Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai Complex is a one-stop shopping destination with stores selling clothing, accessories, and electronics. You can also have some Thai curry and soup. If you’re still hungry, go to Ploen Ruedee Market, where you can watch live musicians and performers as you tuck into food from one of the many international cuisine stalls.
At the Night Bazaar, you can put your bargaining skills to good use. Pick up handicrafts, antiques, and cheap clothing at the market. If you’re looking for interesting décor items, head to Galare Night Bazaar. At Anusarn Market, you can buy a variety of artistic soaps, caps, and other handmade goods.
There are two Walking Street markets that take place over the weekend. The Saturday Walking Street Market is smaller and less crowded, and is open from evening till around 10 PM. The market has a feeling of being frozen in time, and is popular with locals as well.
The Sunday Walking Street Market takes place in the evening as well but stays open until midnight. It is the best place to buy handicrafts made of all kinds of materials including wood, paper, silk, and ceramics. Hardy footwear, accessories, T-shirts, and handbags are available for sale. You can also enjoy a massage as you watch the puppeteers and musicians.
Koh Samui Shopping
What to buy in Koh Samui
Koh Samui is a great destination to buy all sorts of beach wear. Make sure you travel light when you come here because you’ll find all the sun hats, shades, and summer dresses that you could need on the streets on Koh Samui.
Where to shop in Koh Samui
At Chaweng Beach Road, you can buy beach dresses, T-shirts and shorts, as well as cane bags, jewellery, sportswear, and even DVDs. The market area is vast and is home to numerous stores selling everything that you could possibly need. Lamai Walking Street hosts an interesting Sunday market with live music and fire performances, stalls serving food and drinks, and vendors selling clothes, jewellery, and accessories.
Another walking street is located at Bophut, where you will find similar items in a slightly different ambience. Snack on seafood and Thai pancakes, and splurge on sunglasses and electronics. And then there’s Maenam Walking Street with its array of food and cocktail stalls, handicraft vendors, and clothing shops.
For luxury shopping, head to Central Festival Samui. Countless stores, restaurants, and a children’s playground occupy the three storeys of the mall. It is divided into zones catering to fashion, branded accessories, and entertainment including gaming. The Wharf Samui is also a good destination for boutique clothing and souvenirs. There’s also a food court on site.
For budget deals, there is no better place than Lamai Night Plaza, where you can buy wonderful handmade elephants, multi-coloured lamps, and stylish sarongs for the beach. If clothing is your main priority, don’t miss Samui Hot Club.
Krabi Shopping Tips
What to buy in Krabi
Krabi is not really known for its shopping destinations but you’ll still find interesting handmade and designer bags, beachwear, food stalls, nuts, and even batik clothes and handicrafts if you know where to go.
Where to shop in Krabi
Outlet Village is a major shopping destination in Krabi as it features various branded outlets with heavily discounted products. Big C is also a large shopping mall with stores selling clothes, accessories, and souvenirs. For the best luxury shopping experience, head to the upscale Vogue Department Store.
Chok Dee is a must visit for those who love jewellery. The shop has a beautiful collection of handcrafted jewellery made from gold and silver. Also head to Ban Na Teen Cultural Centre for its remarkable handicrafts and batik clothes that the locals favour. Klong Muang Plaza makes for an enjoyable shopping experience with its variety of boutique shops and antiques, along with restaurants and cafes.
Do you want to decorate your home with Thai-style carvings and ceramics? You’ll find everything you need at Sabai Ba Bar & Souvenirs. And if you’re looking for food items, Sri Krabi offers an enviable selection of dried fruits and nuts. Walking streets in Krabi are located at Krabi Town and Ao Nang Beach.