From lively walking street markets to characterful mega-malls, Koh Samui has it all when it comes to shopping. For an afternoon of browsing, the popular resort town of Chaweng is the place to go. However, for a plethora of one-off boutiques and characterful handicraft stalls, the laid-back village of Bophut is also an ideal destination. Samui doesn’t fall short in terms of the bustling markets either, and visitors are spoilt with plenty of chances to practice their bargaining skills with the local vendors.
Central Festival Shopping Mall
For all-in-one mall shopping, visitors holidaying in Koh Samui now make a beeline for Central Festival. The three-storey lifestyle shopping complex opened in 2014 and is home to a wealth of diverse outlets, everything from souvenirs to high street fashion and high-end gadgets. The mall’s prime location in the busy tourist resort of Chaweng ensures that it receives plenty of footfall from visitors and locals alike and it stretches across 90,000 square metres of retail space. Central Festival is also home to an enticing array of dining options and the complex is divided into four sections: Chaweng Port, Bird Cage, Fisherman Village and Beach Town Market. The design also mimics the traditional character of a tropical island with a range of unique architectural features. Outside, there is even a landscaped garden area for families to relax and kids to play once the shopping is over.
The Wharf Samui
For a slightly more laid back shopping mall atmosphere, The Wharf Samui in Bophut offers the ideal opportunity for some relaxing retail therapy. There is no need to battle the crowds as you would in a cramped market as there's plenty of space to wander at leisure. The shops offer everything from home décor to authentic, handmade souvenirs, and there’s also a selection of unique fashion boutiques; perfect for holiday shoppers searching for a few outfits to jazz up their beach wardrobe. Food is also high on the list of attractions at The Wharf with a choice of quality restaurants cooled by the sea breezes.
The Plaza Bophut
Travellers are often drawn to traditional knick-knack shops in search of souvenirs to take home as gifts. Handicraft shops also prove popular with children eager to burn their holiday pocket money. Bophut Plaza is one of the best destinations on the island for those looking to purchase a selection of authentic souvenirs. The Plaza is situated approximately halfway along the main street of the laid back village and is home to a wealth of open fronted shops and boutiques. A rainbow of colour greets the eyes as you stroll through the plaza, with silk shops on one side and artwork on the other. There are plenty of choices, and thanks to the cool and shady conditions most visitors take their time shopping and make the most of the laid pace of Bophut.
Chaweng Street Stalls
Chaweng is the centre of tourist life on Koh Samui, so it’s no surprise that one of the island’s most popular tourist market is also situated there. The long stretch of street stalls and small shops delivers on the hustle, bustle and bargains with everything from clothing to quirky household decorations is available along the 5km strip. Like most other Thai tourist markets, the choice of street food stalls is also vast, so visitors are advised to visit the market whilst hungry.
Walking streets are a new retail trend in Thailand’s main tourist areas, and of course, Samui is one of the main locations for this relaxed style of shopping.
Bophut Walking Street
The weekly event in Fisherman’s Village, held every Friday, is particularly popular with tourists who prefer a more relaxed version to Chaweng’s traffic filled streets. Hand-crafted souvenirs are amongst the most popular goods on sale here, and are available alongside designer clothing and jewellery stalls, as well as the usual copy T-Shirts and electronics. The food is another draw with plenty of variety on offer, including tasty local and international fare.
Lamai & Mae Nam Walking Street
Another of the island’s most popular resort area’s, Lamai is also home to its own walking street market every Sunday. Known locally as Lamai Jai Dee Walking Street, the abundance of handicrafts, clothing and trinkets on sale means visitors can buy some great gifts for friends and family back home. Mae Nam is another of Koh Samui’s most prized walking streets. This family-friendly attraction takes place every Thursday from approximately 4pm – 6pm. An exquisite array of knick-knacks are on sale at Mae Nam, and many visitors that make the journey here kill two birds with one stone by taking a trip to a famous Chinese shrine that is located nearby.
Just like the rest of Thailand, Koh Samui is peppered with independent boutiques for discerning shoppers who want something special to take home. Samui Hot Club, a beach fashion specialist, is one such outlet and ideal for trendy beach hoppers who want to ensure they take their style everywhere with them on holiday. For shoppers seeking something a little more high-end, Saona Collection on the main street in Bophut is perfect. Bamboo changing rooms and tiled floors give this boutique its uniquely Thai island atmosphere and the goods on offer – beachwear, clothing and accessories – are too charming to resist.
Updates by Wayne Hue