Shopping in Phuket – speciality shops
Clearly, most visitors to Phuket come for the beaches and the island life, many also come for the shopping in Phuket. Phuket is a major destination for shopping nowadays, with shoppers coming from all over the world to take advantage of what Phuket has to offer. With several shopping malls on Phuket and plenty of supermarket choices, shopping is easy on Phuket. Island residents take advantage of the Phuket local markets to take advantage of the cheaper prices and a more Thai experience.
There are also a lot of speciality shops on Phuket. Here we take a look at just a few:
You can find excellent deals on gold, silver, gems, pearls and other jewellery in Phuket. Thailand is a world centre in the jewellery trade and you’ll find these items are likely to be considerably cheaper than at home. Silver is also an good buy. It really helps if you know a little bit about what you are buying but if not your best bet is to shop around and get an idea of the prices. If you are thinking about reselling back home you should know that it will be difficult to make a significant profit.
You should avoid the shops in Patong. There are also several tourist trap shops around Phuket that get most of their customers from tour companies and by paying commission to tuk tuk and bus drivers. If your driver takes you to a shop you did not ask to visit then it is because they will pay him commission. You will not get a good deal from such shops and should not buy anything while shopping in Phuket.
There are good jewellery shops on Montri Road in Phuket Town and more around Ratsada Road and Ranong Road.
Should you be interested in pearls, you could consider a trip to the pearl farm on Naka Noi Island
Thai silk is considered one of the finest fabrics in the world. Producing genuine Thai silk is a laborious, time-consuming and highly skilled work and the final product is almost a work of art. Unfortunately, most of the fabric that is offered to tourists as Thai silk is actually a replica made from polyester. It is still a nice fabric but in no way compares to the real thing.
One way to identify genuine Thai silk is the price. The cloth costs more than 500-baht a meter straight from the producers and by the time it reaches the shops it is far more expensive. Even small items of clothing selling for under 300-baht will not be genuine Thai silk. Of course, just because something is selling for more than that, it does not mean it is real silk.
Thai silk can be hand-woven or machine-woven. The hand-woven cloth is the most sought after and can be recognised by the small imperfections in the weave. Strangely, it is the imperfections that are a sign of authenticity while a perfect weave is certainly a machine produced cloth.
Another way to identify the genuine article is that any pattern will only show on one side of the cloth while on the other side you will see an outline of the pattern.
The safest way to get the genuine article is to go to reliable dealers such as Robinsons or Jim Thompson and expect to pay a significant price for the product.
The tailors may appear to offer good deals but in reality most of them are producing cheap sub-standard clothes at inflated prices. It may sound impressive to have a made-to-measure suit but the tailors actually all farm their work out to the same local sweatshops. The cloth is often poor and the standard of work only has to be good enough for the suit to last until the customer has returned home.
Antiques and Art
If purchasing a Buddha, bear in mind that you need a permit to export Buddha images or genuine antiques from Thailand. You need to contact the Thai government’s Fine Arts Department. The easiest way to do this in Phuket is to go to the Thalang National Museum who can advise you if the item may be exported and arrange the necessary paperwork.
The best area for antiques and art shops is the old town area of Phuket Town. If you wander around the old streets of Dibuk Road and Thalang Road, you will find many interesting antique and art shops. It is also a chance to admire the Sino-Portuguese architecture of the oldest buildings in Phuket Town.
If you are a resident or interested in exporting furniture back home then you can find good deals on handcrafted furniture. Teak is an especially good deal. The best deals for teak are in northern Thailand where it grows naturally but if you are not visiting the north then you can still get good deals while shopping in Phuket. There are some good furniture shops on Thepkasattri Road just north of the junction with Bypass Road.