Thailand is widely-renowned as a top-notch shopper’s paradise and the diverse retail experiences are not limited to Bangkok. The capital is undoubtedly the top spot to shop, but the retail options on the islands are also impressive and appealing.
Thailand enjoys a global reputation for its diverse shopping options thanks to the plethora of floating markets, boutique outlets and gleaming shopping malls, which together attract thousands of visitors each year.
Whether you’re on the lookout for a selection of authentic Thai handicrafts to take home, or you are in search of original artwork and antiques, the Land of Smiles won’t leave your credit card hanging.
From serious shoppers to those that prefer a gentle browsing session after their morning coffee and croissant, retail opportunities abound across the Kingdom.
If you want to splash a little holiday cash, below are a few favourite places to treat yourself.
If you’re enjoying a few days in Bangkok before or after a villa holiday on the islands, a wealth of designer stores are right at your fingertips. Siam Paragon should be the first stop on your retail hotlist with Hermes, Prada and Chanel all in attendance to name a few. This glossy mall attracts plenty of well-heeled shoppers from around the world, while just down the road, EmQuartier is an even newer lavish shopping experience. The stylish in and outdoor mall is home to more designer brands than you can list on your fingers, including Jimmy Choo, Dior and Gucci.
Once you reach your island destination the shopping options are far from limited. The latest retail craze to take Thailand by storm is the lifestyle shopping mall – a centre complete with shops, restaurants and an array of diverse entertainment choices. Having a wealth of facilities means that a trip to one of these malls can become a fun, action-packed day out for the whole family. Central Festival Samui is one of the latest lifestyle mall offerings, and comes complete with a kid’s playground and a gaming arcade, in addition to a host of shops and restaurants. The mall’s big sister is Central Festival Phuket, an altogether more urban experience but still with an outdoor square and plenty of market stalls so you don't forget the destination.
Walk the Walk
A trip to Thailand’s islands would be incomplete without savouring the sights, sounds and bargains available at one of the walking street markets. Many of these markets don’t start until 4 or 5pm, so it’s possible to browse to your heart’s content without getting bogged down by the heat of the day. Phuket Walking Street market takes place takes place every Sunday from 4pm-10pm. An array of gift stalls, handicrafts and street food outlets offer plenty to keep visitors happy. Over on Koh Samui, the Fisherman’s Village is the place to be every Friday you’re on the lookout for an evening retails and food fest. Visitors will find the quaint beachside road crammed with a diverse selection of stalls, selling everything from clothing to hand-made lamps.
Old Town Bargains
The quaint and colourful streets of Phuket Old Town offer the perfect destination for a morning of relaxed browsing and window shopping, and are home to a great many independent shops that have been trading for generations. A broad selection of boutiques are clustered within this charming maze of streets with everything from bargain clothes shops to alluring antiques outlets. If you’re on the hunt for souvenirs, look out for Ban Boran – the perfect shop for your quality silk and cotton clothing. There’s also an array of knick-knacks and souvenirs available at Think Positive, from hand-painted ornaments to traditional Asian garments.
If you want to rub shoulders with the locals and learn a little more about everyday life in Thailand, then don’t miss the chance to visit a fresh produce market in Phuket or Koh Samui. After all, these are a central hub for the community, as well as a place to sample some of the most mouth-watering street food you can imagine. In Phuket, Banzaan Market in Patong is the place to go. Right beside Jungceylon Mall, this market offers a rainbow of exquisite fresh produce, from fresh seafood to tropical fruits. In Koh Samui, consider a trip to Chaweng Fresh Market to enjoy and authentic Thai shopping experience and some irresistible Thai cuisine.