In Southeast Asia, Thailand is thought to be one of the very best places to shop, because there are so many malls, department stores, and independently owned shops. Add to that street vendors in the thousands and the glorious night bazaars, and you have a shopping experience that is second to none.
Local Artisans Offer Outstanding Selection
Now, what do you take home with you that virtually screams “one of a kind?” Of all the hand-crafted items that come out of Thailand, silk is likely the most renowned. You’ll never find a more stunning selection in a wider range of colors. You can buy Thai silk by the yard, or purchase any of the outstanding garments that have been created by local tailors. If you love showing up at a party and being asked “Where did you ever find that?” make sure to visit a local artisan who can offer you a unique Thai silk garment.
Land of Smiles
Thailand is known as the “Land of Smiles,” and you’ll definitely be smiling when you visit one of Thailand’s famous night markets. You’ll find arts, crafts, clothing, bargain electronics, and more. One thing you need to know, though, is don’t ever pay the sticker price. Haggling is not only common, it’s expected. A good rule of thumb is to offer the vendor approximately half of the price he quoted you. Then let the bargaining begin. The vendor won’t agree to half of the stated price, but that’s your “jumping off” point. At some point in the transaction, you’ll come to a number that’s agreeable to both of you. If you arrive at a standstill, try turning around and walking away. The vendor may very well call you back. No hard feelings, it’s just part of the fun! Don’t try this at the malls – malls in Thailand are no different than they are at home; there’s no room to dicker unless maybe you’re bargaining for a damaged item. But on the street, go for it.
This doesn’t mean that you won’t get a good deal at a mall. When you think of the vast number of items that are manufactured in Thailand, you can get a very good deal at a mall. You might pick up the same item in Thailand as you’d get at home, but at a much lower price.
Obviously you don’t want to be ripped off. So make sure that the merchandise you are buying is genuine. Be especially careful with “designer” products. If you see a supposed Louis Vuitton handbag for a hundred dollars, for example, you can bet that it’s a fake, and it will probably fall apart five minutes after you get it home. Use your common sense – simply stated, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Thai street vendors are often no different than those you find in New York City or any other location – there are scammers looking to make a quick buck, and the savvy shopper has to be careful.
Now, back to what you could, and should, buy. The possibilities are endless – check out local crafts and souvenirs, antiques, hand-made jewelry and furniture. Of course, furniture can be expensive to transport back home, but if your pockets are deep, you’d do a lot worse than to investigate shops that offer hand-made rattan items. Thailand (and in particular Bangkok) is also a great source for gemstones. You can find diamonds and other precious and semi-precious stones in an array of colors. Again, though, be careful, and buy only from a dealer that you are satisfied is reputable.
Wallet? Check. Smarts? Check. Shop? You bet!