Shopping hot spots

The markets are rich with the vibrant colors, sounds and crafts of Thai culture.

The markets are rich with the vibrant colors, sounds and crafts of Thai culture.

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When you visit Thailand, shopping is a major part of the trip. You simply cannot visit the country without taking at least one peek at the splendor of the many spectacular markets. Here, we’ve put together a list of the top five shopping markets in Thailand, ranging from resort locales like Samui to major metropolitan cities like Bangkok, to guide you through the myriad of choices.

Chatuchak weekend market

The ultimate in mega-shopping, this enormous market encompasses every aspect of life through the variety of merchandise on offer. A microcosm of Thai aesthetics, the Chatuchak Weekend Market is a must-visit on any trip to the capital. Divided into 27 sections, through a complex yet systemized web of stalls, the market can take as long as the entire weekend to peruse properly. You will find everything from traditional contemporary clothing and accessories, handicrafts that are local as well as regional, home furnishings, plants and garden merchandise and more. The menu of items available further extends to antiques and collectibles, pets and pet-related inventory, art, ceramics and there’s also an extensive food and beverage area.

Shoppers are advised to be prepared to bargain, as it is an acceptable part of Thailand’s shopping culture. You should dress comfortably and expect to spend at least half a day at the market, if not more, just covering key sections of interest. Chatuchak market operates on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and is easily accessible via the bangkok Sky Train or subway system.

Chiang Mai night market

Shopping at night is simply a dazzling experience, no matter where the market is located. Add to that the magnificence of Thailand’s cultural charm and you can look forward to a unique shopping journey in Chiang Mai. The Night Market actually includes several street markets concentrated in one locale. Spanning several roads that are on a concourse with each other, tourists tend to spend several hours perusing the many items on display in the plethora of shops spanning this market. Whether you are looking for classic Thai ceramics or silks, to purchase art work that is specific to the region, Buddhist replicas in particular or even specialty silver jewelry – these are just a few of the options available to travellers eager to take a memento of their travels back home.

While you find smaller, quaint shops in the Chiang Mai Night Market, you also find big names in electronics and clothing, plus a large selection of copy goods and designer labels that all add up to an eclectic blend of retail pleasure.

Chaweng on Samui

The shopping scene along the beach strip in Chaweng, Koh Samui is one of the most popular hot spots on the island. As big as a city centre shopping street, this combination of shops and stalls offers a huge selection and variety of retail options. Bargain hunters will find small, specialized boutiques offering unique products that are made in the locale, as well as larger chain stores such as Giordano, not to mention a cash-and-carry supermarkets to tock up on beach supplies. Pharmacies, clothing stores and souvenir shops dominate the scene, as well as tailor shops for exclusively made suits. Dotted in between all these shops there are plenty of food and drink options, making the Chaweng shopping experience a fulfilling one on all fronts.

Beachwear, optical solutions, fine jewelry, as well as made-to-order art delivered on the spot by artists on stand-by; all are aspects of this shopping extravaganza. As with most retail environments in Thailand, shoppers and merchants often engage in bargaining, which can result in some excellent discounts if you know and recognize the true value of the items you are buying.

Local food market in Krabi

Far from the typical tourist food hot spots, the food market at Krabi is especially appealing with delicious local fare and a wide variety of offerings on sale at the many street stalls or by passing vendors. The aroma of local Thai spices tickles the senses as one comes closer to the areas in the surrounding streets. Almost entirely devoted to local Thai cuisine, this market is not the place to expect five-star dining, rather it is a haven for specialty cooking by local chefs and experts at Thai cuisine. Whether you choose to go for the traditional Thai soup, one of the many prawn, chicken or beef dishes or sticky rice and a simple Thai curry, the fine flavours will not cost you much at all.  Most vendors in this local fishing town will charge very reasonably and visitors hardly ever go far beyond what the locals would pay for the same.

Mae Hong Son Hill Tribe market

Nestled amid the stunnning backdrop of Northern Thailand, Mae Hong Son town is a quaint little village that offers a unique mix of multiple religions and cultures that live in harmony together. As a result, the Mae Hong Son Hill Tribe Market offers a wide variety of wares ranging from traditional items to modern products such as CDs, DVDs, T-shirts and more. A remote shopper’s paradise, the market is also home to many souvenirs, handicrafts made by the local people, as well as precious gems. You will also find a good selection of antiques there. Another favorite aspect of the Mae Hong Son Hill Tribe Market is the food offered for sale. A great place to savour the local produce of the area, The market is a preferred venue for local residents as well as tourists and the entire shopping experience is also a traveller’s delight as  the market sits  on a hill that overlooks the quaint village below.

As a visitor to Thailand, there are many sights to see and majestic aspects of the country’s cultural splendor to experience. The markets are rich with the vibrant colors, sounds and crafts of Thai culture. To visit one of the most prevalent tourist hot spots in Asia, without catching a glimpse of these the top five markets would be missing an essential aspect of Thailand’s heritage.

Not only do night revelers hit the clubs at night, but Bangkokians know to get their retail therapy during the cool of the night. Here are some of the capital’s best night markets.

  • Khao San: The backpacker haven is a great place to pick up some trinkets, or just to have a stroll around the colorful street.
  • Pak Khlong Talad: The traditional flower market explodes in a symphony of colors and aromas especially before dawn break when myriad variety of flowers arrives by the truckloads.
  • Saphan Phut Night Bazaar: Lining the banks of the Chao Praya River, Saphan Phut is a favorite with the local university students seeking well priced items and snacks.
  • Ratchada Night Bazaar: Also known as the ‘Vespa Market’ as a nod to its origins as a vintage automobile swap meet, second hand items ranging from toys to clothes and books are on offer.
  • Talad Rot Fai: Another night market with vintage offerings, Talad Rot Fai is situated next to old train tracks also boasts unused train coaches that are open to visitors for a rest and a reminisce.
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