It’s no secret, I’ve spent a lot of time in Thailand and I’m headed back next month for the first time in a year! There’s only so many times you can go to the Grand Palace or Wat Pho. So, what do I do to pass time? Shop. There’s a lot of amazing shopping in Thailand. There’s the knockoffs (which, by the way, are primarily illegal), the markets, the knickknacks, etc… I’d like to share some ideas of what to buy in Thailand.
Thailand is one of the leading producers of silk. They’re famous for it. One of the best silk houses in the world is the Jim Thompson Silk Company. (P.S. – you should take a tour of his house in Bangkok, it’s a hidden gem!) There are dozens of Jim Thompson stores across the country and even at the airports so you’ll be able to find one easily. This store is not one where you can negotiate, at all. But you’re getting the highest quality silk here. A medium sized pillow will run you between $30-40 and larger pillows are $50+. On par with what you’d pay for pillows in the US. There are varying sizes and it’s a purchase you won’t regret. They come in a million styles. They make great gifts for that special family member or a couple getting married.
Jewelry is a great thing to buy in Thailand, but only if you know where you’re going! Buyer beware, there are many scams in Thailand involving Jewelry. Here’s how it goes – the really good jewelers don’t pay taxi drivers and therefore, it’s very likely you won’t be able to get a cab (or Tuk Tuk) to take you to the best places on the first or even second or third try. A cab may take you to one or two places who will pay him while pretending he is lost or didn’t understand what you asked. The secret is that the best places will pick you up and drop you off for free! My family, friends and I have been shopping at the same Jeweler for about 20 years after my parents first trip to Bangkok. My friends and I have bought tons of things and they always appraise for equal or greater what I’ve paid. I frequently send people and most recently I sent Frugal Travel Guy contributor, Howie. Here’s what he had to say
My wife wears the ring she got on a daily basis … and it appraised for 2.5x what we paid … so definitely no complaints there at all. They weren’t high pressure at all, but they were diligent about finding out what you liked and then bringing out 1000 options for you to narrow down from. The woman we worked with also had no issue with bundling; pretty much I think we paid 40-50% of what the list price was on everything we got.
Here are some examples of things my firends and I have picked up over the years. SJ has in-house designers and items are all one-of-a-kind.
If you go, you’ll need to know… S J International is located at 125/8 Sawankhalog Road, Dusit Bangkok, Thailand 10300. You can call them (or have your hotel call them) for free transportation – +662-243-2446, +662-243-2447, or +662-241-1875
Pashmina is fine, cashmere, wool. Thailand produces a ton of beautiful Pashmina shawls. You can buy very cheap versions at the markets or you can spend a bit more and get really good quality Pashmina. For about $7 you can pick up a Pashmina at the night market or MBK mall (you can negotiate as well. If you buy 5 or more you can get much better deals. I pay around $5 each for 5 or more. For about $12 – 15 dollars you can buy a high quality Pashmina at a store called Exotic Thai. Exotic Thai has a few locations and only carries hand crafted products made in Thailand. You know you’re buying something real. In the US a good quality pashmina runs about $90 with an inexpensive around $20. I have at least 20 Pashminas – both cheap and good quality – and I love them all. It’s a great gift to buy for people – you can pack them easily in your suitcase – and I’ve never met anyone who doesn’t love them.
These are the three things I would suggest spending money on in Thailand because they’re sure to be a hit. You’ll not only help the economy, but you’ll be satisfied knowing you’re getting a good price and paying way less than you would at home.