Thailand has some of the best shopping in Asia, so come prepared! You’ll find air-conditioned malls and department stores, small shops and many, many markets. The country is renowned for its markets – flower markets, floating markets, night markets and produce markets. While many of them offer the typical touristy souvenirs, they are worth visiting, even if just for a short time.
My personal experience at Chatuchak Market in Bangkok was overwhelming; its size and the heat inside the market took some getting used to, making me totally claustrophobic, but I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. Everything I had read said to allocate a full day to it, but truthfully, a few hours were all I could manage. I did come home with a tablecloth that I loved though!
Most Thai markets are composed of antique stores, handicraft shops, clothing and jewelry stores and plenty of options for food and drink. The night markets are popular with tourists and locals alike, as the heat of the day has dissipated, making shopping a more pleasant experience.
The Chiang Mai night market is one of the most popular night-time attractions in the northern Thai city. The market is a descendant of the ancient Yunnanese trading caravans which would stop here on their caravan between China and Myanmar. On our upcoming tour of Thailand and Laos, you may have time to visit this market and we’ll definitely visit the Chiang Rai night market, a smaller version of the more famous version in Chiang Mai.
What are some of the things you should be looking for? Thai silks and cottons; I nearly went crazy with the selection of silks in one shop. And I did manage to come home with a custom-made, peacock-blue silk suit which I loved. Depending on your shopping budget, you’ll also find plenty of gold and silver jewelery as well as precious and semi-precious stones. Thailand is renowned for its indigenous rubies and sapphires. You’ll also find pottery, lacquerware, gold-leaf, dolls, masks and plenty of wood carvings. And let’s not forget the Buddhas of all shapes and sizes!
If you’re looking for knock-off items, visit the MBK Centre in Bangkok. This huge shopping mall boasts of receiving 100,000 visitors a day, with 2/3 being locals. Keep in mind that you’re more likely to be able to bargain at the market than you are in the mall. It’s a good idea to do your research and know what you should be paying for something before you actually purchase it.
As mentioned earlier, there’s all kinds of food available at the markets and in the malls. Don’t be afraid to try something new!