Shopping in Thailand


Thailand is a shopper’s paradise with items like intricate handicrafts, fabrics and textiles the favourites for the tourists in search of souvenirs. Whether you plan to browse the mega-sized and luxury malls, the floating markets, or the quirky little stalls at the night markets, there is plenty to choose from when on the Thailand tour packages.

A visit to Thailand's bustling capital city, Bangkok is a perfect destination for both penny-pinchers and spendthrifts. The local goods range from designer items and gemstones to hand-woven silks and pottery. The most cost-effective items are the locally produced wares which are extremely affordable while the imported goods are quite expensive.

Where to Shop
Every town in Thailand has a market of some shape or size, so it is always possible to buy something on your travels.

A visit to Bangkok makes it possible to explore the high-rise stores such as CentralWorld with its eight floors of everyday items to the latest in fashion and technology. A major district for the shopping activities is Sukhumvit. But, for the low-cost travellers in search of bargains it is worth visiting Khao San Road with its open-fronted shops and stalls that sell everything imaginable and make a great gift or souvenir for friends or family at home.  

The most unique shopping experience is witnessed in Damnoen Saduak with its floating market that is relatively close to the capital and easily reached by travelling on the local bus service.

For the travellers in the north of the country, Chiang Mai is a great city to visit with its fantastic Night Bazaar and endless stalls that include a wide range of amazing products.

Also, a Thailand family tour to the southern islands includes plenty of market stalls with goods like sandals, headscarves, sarongs, designer sunglasses and tropical print bikinis.

What to buy in Thailand

Traditional items
One of the major traditional items is the teak wood carvings that come in the decorative statues and trivets like elephants, angels and mythical gods to the more practical items such as salad bowls and breadboards. An elegant decoration includes a bronze statue of a recumbent deer or other classical drama figure. Also, the handbags, baskets and place mats made from local natural fibres make a beautiful gift idea.

Jewelery and gemstones
Thailand is not only responsible for mining its own supply of sapphire and rubies in the region of Chantaburi, but also sells a lot of stones that comes from Cambodia and Myanmar. Sapphires range from yellow, green and blue, to the rubies in various shades of red (deep to pale).

Gems and jewellery are best purchased from reputable shops that are either endorsed by the Thai Gem and Jewellery Traders Association or the Tourism Authority of Thailand. This helps to avoid issues with scams and being caught up in the bogus gem deal. Any reputable trader will complete a deal by issuing a certificate of authenticity, while also including a 100% money-back guarantee. Alternatively, seeking the guidance of a local expert can increase the chance of being involved in an authentic trade.

shopping in thailand

The craftsmen in Thailand are skilled at producing high-quality pieces of lacquerware which is the process of creating items in bamboo or wood and then coating with a glossy black lacquer. The item is finished with a stylish design that can include painting in gold leaf and adding artistic images. Other creative items include the use of oyster shells which are combined with a black lacquer background to create a scene of captivating beauty.

Thai coconut oil
Thai coconut oil is widely available throughout the country and has plenty of practical uses. Also, for the touristy areas, there is certain to be a few bottles with English labels. Thai coconut oil can make a trendy gift or souvenir idea and used for both beauty regimes and cooking. Popular items include the soap and bath products, hair products, and food grade oil. But, the worth of the oil can vary quite dramatically, with a high price often an indication of the best quality merchandise.

Crafting pottery has been a long standing tradition in Thailand with the local people finessing their skill and techniques over the last 5,000 years. Many of the ceramics seen in the market stalls on the Thailand customized tour are copies of age-old pieces and antiques of yesteryear. A great piece is the Sangkhalok ceramic plates which have a very distinct twin-fish design and inspired by ancient Sukhothai.

Celadon is a type of stoneware that is finished with a dark-brown or light jade-green glaze, and a common choice for the creation of statuary, lamps and dinnerware. The art of Benjarong is used by the Thai artists – although it did originate in China. This style of ceramics includes five colours (white, green, yellow, blue and red) to create the more distinct piece with decorative items, containers, and delicate porcelain bowls are popular choices.

Also, there is the blue-and-white porcelain which has been created widely for hundreds of years, and also originated in China.

Furniture and wood/stone carvings
Thai furniture and wooden carvings are a popular choice in Chiang Mai which is a region known for producing high-quality items of this nature. The majority of the furniture and carvings are created in teak and finished with an intricately carved look.

The antiques from Thailand and Myanmar are some of the finest in Asia, but the most authentic items are becoming quite sparse. However, for the well-informed traveller on the Thailand tours there is still a certain degree of treasures to be unearthed for those in a major city like Bangkok. The preferred place to visit in the city is River City which is the centre of the antiques trade. By walking around the local area it is possible to find several shops that trade in both look-alike objects d’art and the genuine antiques.

For the most religious antiques there are strict export controls in place so it is important to obtain an export permit from the dealer in order to have the item shipped home.