With a plentiful array of shopping options to choose from, Thailand has cemented its reputation as one of Asia’s premier destinations for retail experiences and Phuket is no exception. From glittering high-end shopping malls to bustling local markets, shopaholics are spoilt for choice.
While Thailand’s most extensive selection of malls is concentrated in and around Bangkok, Phuket has plenty of its own offerings to visitors’ retail urges. The two main branded shopping destinations on the island are Central Festival and Jungceylon Mall. Central is the larger of the two and also the first stop for most shoppers on the island. It is home to more than 120 outlets selling everything from top brand fashion accessories and designer clothes to electronic gadgets and souvenirs. The mall is also a prime choice for visitors that want to kick back and enjoy other facilities on offer such as Thai and International restaurants, massage outlets and even a cinema. Meanwhile, in the heart of Patong, Jungceylon Mall is perfect for visitors and locals that want to spend some of their Thai Baht on fashion items, beauty products, sportswear or electronics, with stores spread across the expansive mall’s multiple floors.
Phuket Walking Street
The latest retail trend to take Thailand by storm is the market-style “walking street”, where visitors can drift between street food eateries and handicraft stalls, grazing and shopping as they go. Phuket Town’s weekly street market, known locally as Lardyai Thai, is held in the heart of Phuket Town on Thalang Road from 10pm – 4pm each Sunday. From locally-made handicrafts to striking handmade jewellery, shoppers are spoilt for choice by the array of goods available. The market is therefore a great place to grab a few original souvenirs to take back home for friends and family. Vendors expect visitors to haggle – it’s all part of the traditionally Thai shopping experience – but it should always be a light hearted negotiation.
Visitors that love the hustle and bustle of a local market should make a bee-line for the Phuket weekend market, known locally as ‘Naka’. Situated along Chao Fa West Road; an exciting array of goods are on offer – in addition to a plethora of enticing street food dishes. The market is divided into open air and covered sections, with a huge selection of clothes and tourist friendly souvenirs available in the latter area. The open air zone section is the place to go for electronic gadgets and toys. Patong’s Banzaan Market, situated on Sai Kor Road, is also popular with visitors. This modern Thai market offers everything you would expect from a traditional market but in a more contemporary setting.
On Phuket, shoppers also have an good choice of one-off boutiques to choose from. Jim Thompson is known as one of the Kingdom’s leading silk retailers and is named after the man responsible for galvanizing the Thai silk industry in the 1960s and 70s. The brand now boasts a string of stylish boutiques across Thailand, including a large store at Central Festival on Phuket, selling silk clothes and accessories, souvenirs and even silk soft toys. The Dressing Room is another popular boutique for visitors in search of stylish Thai fashions. The majority of the pieces on offer at the store are designed by Thai designers Kittikorn Kongtabag and Khun Panatta. Meanwhile, a stroll along the main road that serves Surin Beach will reveal a number of privately owned boutiques with some exquisite fashions on offer.
Local Crafts on Phuket
Visitors seeking items to remind them of Phuket’s quirky personality should head to one of the island’s craft stores to pick up a souvenir or two. The Old Town is the place to go for local craft shops, where colourful textile emporiums intermingle with unique handicraft outlets. For those intending to explore the area and splash out on a selection of souvenirs, the majority of craft shops can be found between Rassada, Phang NGga, Thaland and Yaowarat Roads. Visitors that join sightseeing tours may also be taken to a selection of craft and jewellery stores, but caution is advised when purchasing items from large tourist outlets as they often charge more than local shops and boutiques in order to pay commission often demanded by guides and tour operators.
Posted by Wayne Hue