Variety of Options
Thailand is not limited to normal roadside shops and malls. Apart from huge array of glitzy shopping malls, Capital Bangkok has open-air markets, charming side street antique shops, art galleries and road-side vendors. So one has the luxury of choosing from number of options and have variety of experience. Haggling for better deal in a open-air market, bustling with crowds, is an experience in itself.
Thailand caters to almost every demand of the visitors. But most popular and recommended items are as follows:
Thailand is poised as one of the world's leading manufacturers of ready-to-wear clothing. Fashion boutiques add glitz in every shopping mall, while cheaper clothing such as T-shirts and jeans is easily available at bargain prices from street vendors. Thailand is also praised for customised tailoring and one can get clothes made according to one's preferences.
Most well-known among all Thai handicrafts is silk, available in a range of colors and patterns. It is sold by the yard, ready-made clothing and souvenir items. Mat Mee is a unique style of Thai silk. It is a tie-dye conventional silk of north-east Thailand. It is a very popular souvenir and most visitors to Thailand take one or the other silk item back.
Cotton & Batik
Thai cotton is also high on popularity ladder. Particularly praiseworthy is the cotton woven by the tribal people of the North, typically displaying bold designs and often lavish embroidery. Standing at par are original batiks crafted at several studios in Bangkok. Bangkok hosts several exclusive cotton and batik shops, which are always thronged by the visitors.
Pewterware is fashioned employing great skill by Thai craftsmen. The smooth, silky finish of this impressive alloy is enhanced by delicate relief decoration. Pewterware items include boxes, plates, vases and pocket flasks. Pewterware items can be found in most popular tourist places.
Bangkok is considered the colored gemstone capital of the world. Stones like rubies and sapphires are indigenous to the country, but virtually all colored gems, as well as diamonds, can be bought in Thailand. However, those interested are advised to exercise caution and buy from reputed dealers only.
Antiques are high on the tourists' priority list. Thai, Chinese, Burmese and Khmer antiques are very good buys. However, a ban is placed on export certain pieces, particularly Buddha images. Export license may be needed for some pieces. Any reputed dealer may advise on restrictions and necessary documentation required for any antique purchase in Thailand. Customisable Benjarong pottery can be a perfect memento of your Thailand tour.
Ceramics, both conventional and contemporary style, is available in Thailand. Distinctive sea-green celadons from Sukhothai are most well-known. Also popular are the central provinces' colorful Benjarong (five color) porcelain, unique to Thailand. Ceramics products make for a nice souvenir.
Nielloware is the traditional craft of bedecking gold and silver objects with delicate etched designs filled with a metal ware. Nielloware boxes, trays, vases and other items are some very good buys. The craft is particularly practised in Southern Thailand.
This is the craft which involves coating split bamboo or wood with lacquer. Intricate hand-painted designs are added to gold-on-black lacquer or yellow and green on a red brown background. One can purchase lacquerware boxes, bowls, trays and other items for decoration of the drawing room. The famous Floating Market at Damnernsaduak compels one to reminisce the days when the waterways were used to carry out the trade.
Thailand is known for tremendous variety of orchids. Their impressive colors and durable beauty make them popular for purchase. Specially packaged flowers, with the option of water supply, can easily be transported. Their easy availability at the international airports also make them attractive purchase.
Also preferred by the tourists are Rattan and rosewood furniture items, which are available in many designs and styles. The items can also be customised. Furniture shops are particularly available in cities like Bangkok and Chiang Mai. The shops have wide selection and can also arrange for overseas shipment.
Beautiful embroidered textiles and silver jewellry are made by tribal groups residing in the hills of Northern Thailand. Chiang Mai is the centre of such hilltribe goods. The items can make good souvenir for the people interested in hilltribe crafts.
Major credit cards are accepted, thus reducing the need of carrying hard cash. However, if going to any far-flung area, one is advised to carry sufficient cash. English is widely spoken and therefore language is not a problem. And yes, do not forget to carry a bag large enough to accommodate your souvenir and other purchases.