Phuket is one of the best places to snap up some really great bargains to expand your wardrobe! There are so many vendors and outlets offering fashion labels from around the world. Custom tailoring is also readily available for unbelievably good value, and most stores can produce a finished product within a few days. There is a wide range of styles from around the world, with a choice of local or international materials and fabrics. Casual and everyday clothing can be found at bargain prices from street vendors and market stalls. Of course many of the major brands you’ll find at markets and stalls aren’t authentic, but hey, if it looks like the real thing for only a fraction of the price, then there’s really no loss.
Silk is one of Thailand’s major exports and is available at great prices, in a range of colours, patterns and plys. You can simply buy lengths of the material or purchase ready-made clothing and items, such as dresses, scarves etc. In the north-east there is a traditional style of Thai silk, with a tie-dye finish, called Mat Mee, if you look around you should be able to find it all over Thailand. Although, the best known outlet for any silk products is the Jim Thompson store up in Bangkok.
Cotton & Batik
Cotton products are typically popular in Thailand as they are perfect for the climate and environment. If you’re after something different you can find traditional cotton materials woven by the hill tribes of the north or the intricately woven Batik materials which are now produced in several sites around the country.
Thai Pewter craftsmen are amongst some of the best in the world, sculpting elegant products of this beautiful, dark alloy material. Around the markets and specific stores you can find everything from beautifully crafted vases and plates to distinguished hip flasks and cigar boxes.
Many coloured gems are found naturally in Thailand, including rubies and sapphires. Aside from this, virtually all coloured gems are available including diamonds. However, some caution should be exercised and make sure you are buying from a reputable dealer before forking out too much money!! Cheap coloured stones in hand made jewelery can be found easily at the markets and these also make for a nice souvenir or gift.
If antiquing is your thing, there are many places around where you can find Thai, Burmese, Chinese and Khmer antiques at amazing prices. Just be careful as there are export bans on particular pieces, particularly those with the image of Buddha. Some pieces may also require an export license so once again, make sure you refer to a reputable dealer. They will be able to advise you on the restrictions and help you obtain the necessary documents.
There is a wide range of traditional and contemporary styles of pottery. Some of the most popular are sea-green celadons, crafted in the Sukothai area and the five colour Benjarong porcelain, from the central provinces. Both are totally unique to Thailand. Just remember that it’s hard moving fragile items around, so perhaps not the best idea if you’re backpacking
Nielloware is a tradition started in the south and involves decorating gold and silver objects, entwined with metal ware to create vases, trays, boxes and other items. The products are finished with delicately etched designs and patterns. Nielloware products make a great souvenir or gift.
A traditional craft first practiced in the North, lacquer ware is a wood-craft that involves splitting bamboo or teakwood and coating it with lacquer before painting intricate designs and patterns on the surface. Traditionally finished in gold on black, or yellow and green on a red background, this craft is typically used for bowls, boxes and souvenirs.
Thailand is famous for producing some of the most impressive orchids in the world and Phuket is home to some of Thailand’s most magnificent orchid gardens. Most of the farms of the island are open for the public to wander around and enjoy the sights. Many of the gardens have food and beverage facilities and of course, all of them have orchids for sale. Just be careful if you plan to take the plants out of the country; it is not prohibited, but make sure you check out the local and international laws before leaving.
There are many styles of traditional Thai furniture available. These are typically made from a range of local materials such as rattan and rosewood. The most popular in Phuket, however, is that made of the teakwood, which is one of our major exports. Many places offer furniture made to order and stores in Bangkok and Chiang Mai can arrange shipment for overseas.