Thailand is packed with a vast array of shopping experiences. Whether you’re after a bargain or planning to drain your credit card, Thailand can cater to every need. From fashion labels and fake Rolexes to puppies and classic Thai street vendors, it would take a severe amount of dedication to work your way through every one. So, to make things easier here’s a list of some of the must visit places.
When you think of shopping in Thailand, your mind is probably drawn to the bustling city of Bangkok. Dominated with whisky bucket drinking backpackers and vibrant street life, Bangkok has a lot to offer. But if it’s a decent shopping experience you’re after, you’ve come to the right place.
Talat Rod Fai Night Market
If you have a hipster beard, wear glasses that you don’t really need and have a passion for all things vintage, Talat Rod Fai market is the place or you. This vintage night market is home to all things memorabilia and gives a rather hefty shout out to yester year. Here you’ll find an abundance of low cost hippy clothing with shoes and accessories to match. It’s not just about the clothes though. There’s an abundance of vintage house hold goods, old electronics and collectables. With over 2000 stalls to pick from, you’re bound to find something interesting to take home. Though you may be met with vacant stares if you show anyone under the age of 30 your prised purchases. If you’re after a terrifying life size Elvis mannequin then head to Rods Antiques – a converted warehouse packed with vintage bikes and classic cars. These aren’t items you can really take home in bulk, but they’re nice to fawn over. There’s food available and bars too if you’re feeling depressed about days gone by. The market is open from 17:00-00:00 Thursday to Sunday. To get here, jump on the BTS to On Nut and catch a taxi. The market is tucked away on Srinakarin Road Soi 51, behind Seacon Square.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
Sticking with Bangkok, this time we’re delving into the tourist trap. The next must visit shopping experience is the Chatuchak weekend market. As one of the largest in the world with over 8,000 market stalls, things can get a little bit hectic here. Some would say ‘lively’, I’d say chaotic and when you first set eyes on the market, the word mayhem springs to mind. However, there are numbered sections, 27 in total, to make things a little easier. There is one main walkway throughout the market which splits off into alleyways. These alleyways are grouped into the 27 sections, containing different categories of goods. The variety here is incredible. You can expect to find clothes and accessories, handicrafts and antiques. There are even stalls selling pets and pet accessories, if you fancy going to cuddle a puppy, furniture and home decor. Many of these sections also sell the usual range of Thai food and beverages. This list is by no means exhaustive so it’s best to set aside an entire day to explore the market. The market is open from 09:00-18:00 on Saturdays and Sundays and from 18:00- 00:00 on Fridays. To get here, simply jump on the sky train to Mo Chit station and take exit number 1. If you’re catching the subway, go to Chatuchak Park Station and take exit number 1 again. If you’re unsure where you’re going, follow the hoards of people.
Some would argue that Chiang Mai is the shopping capital of Thailand. Whilst it may not boast the luxury mall complexes of Bangkok, it’s the array of hand crafted goods that keep the tourists coming back. Chaing Mai is home to several busy markets and bazaars. These sprawling, somewhat hectic, shopping experiences allow tourists to explore the craftsmanship on display. It’s also the perfect opportunity to hone your haggling skills.
Sunday walking street market
The Sunday market stretches the entire length of Ratchadamnoen Road, beginning at Thapae Gate. You can visit the market from 16:00-00:00 but it’ll start to get busier later into the evening. The street is lined with temples which act as al fresco dining areas if you fancy something from a vendor. Alternatively there are cafes and restaurants throughout the market. Amongst the stalls you’ll mainly find selections of handicrafts made by the Northern Thai people. The goods are made from materials such as wood, ceramic, fabric, paper and many others. If you’re looking for clothes then the Sunday market has its fair share, though you won’t find any imitation labels here. After dark the market comes alive with entertainment in the form of dancers, musicians and puppeteers. The Sunday market is an experience in itself and if you’re looking for something more user friendly, this is the place to come.
Chiang Mai Night Bazaar
The Chiang Mai night bazaar is legendary for attracting the tourists. Due to its outrageous variety of goods, some of which you can’t even categorise, and bargain prices, the night bazaar is a must see attraction. The bazaar is open every day of the year, come rain or shine, so there is plenty of opportunity to bag yourself a bargain. If its clothes you’re after, this is definitely the place to come. The Night Bazaar boasts and array of choices from hand crafter Thai silk to fake and real designer brands. You can even have a suit measured and be available to collect the next evening. There’s far more here to explore than fashion though it is arguably the best bargain on offer. The bazaar houses CD’s and DVD’s, jewellery, handicrafts, general knick – knacks, watches, purses, wallets, souvenirs – the list is endless. There are plenty of restaurants and bars for a mid- shop snack and if you need a wester fix there’s a McDonalds and a Burger King. The Night Bazaar is on Chang Khlan Road and kicks off about 18:00 every evening.
This is only a small sample of the shopping delights that Thailand has to offer. Phuket is also known to be a shopper’s paradise and has a variety of open air food markets, night markets and westernised department stores. If you fancy a bit of island hopping, Koh Samui boasts a number of quirky shops and sells your classic imitation fashion labels and various copies of the products we all know and love. Whatever your shopping need, wherever you are in Thailand, there’ll be a store or a market selling it.