Shopping in Thailand - Bangkok - Phuket - Chiang Mai - Thai Markets
Shopping in Thailand
Many Western chains have branches in Thailand, particularly in the big cities. There are large department stores, shopping malls, and markets to be explored in Bangkok. Nearby Bangkok are the famous floating markets, where people throng on boats on the river selling food and other wares. Night markets in Thailand tend to be cheap and sell a variety of goods and food. The night market in Chiang Mai is particularly popular with tourists, selling handicrafts and souvenirs made in villages in the hills around Chiang Mai.
Beware of touts who offer to take you to their friend's shop where you will get a special deal - they get paid commission. Tuk-tuk drivers also offer to take you to a shop to buy jewellery or souvenirs and they will also be paid commission from the shop. In general these touts will hang round tourist areas, mainly in Bangkok and other cities.
The custom is to haggle in Thailand so be prepared to bargain, particularly in tourist areas as prices are often artificially hiked up. Usually if you ask for a discount 10-20% of the price will be knocked off automatically but sometimes you can get them down to half the original asking price if you are determined.
It is possible to get cheap, good-quality, tailor-made clothing. A popular fabric is Thai silk, which is coarser than some silks but considered good quality. Chinese silk clothing is also available - this is softer and cheaper than Thai silk. Cheap cotton clothing, suitable for wearing in Thailand, is readily available - this can be a better option than buying sarongs and other clothing at home before you come to Thailand. The hill tribes in the north make interesting cotton clothing, bags and accessories which are sold in the north, particularly markets in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, and in Bangkok. These are made of coarser, thicker cotton weave than clothes available in the south. The climate can get quite cold in the north, particularly November to February.
Designer label clothing is sold but these tend to be fake, and there is no pretence that they are real. Fake Birkenstock shoes and Diesel clothing can be bought in markets in Chiang Mai and Bangkok.
Thailand is famous for its precious stones. However there have been incidents of tourists being talked into buying gems at a 'bargain' price, or being asked to be involved as a courier, and losing a lot of money. Uncut or preset jewellery is available and can be cheaper than in the West. Along the Khao San Road in Bangkok and in other tourist areas, body piercing is popular and there are shops selling silver jewellery.
Music and software
CDs, DVD, and computer software is available very cheaply in Thailand. There is also black market for pirated software and copies of music and videos. This is quite common, particularly in tourist resorts.
Shopping Malls Newly revamped CentralWorld Plaza is the largest shopping complex in Southeast Asia.
Markets Visit the Chatuchak Market said to be the largest open market in the world. It offers many souvenirs and much more.