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Things to Buy in Phuket
Written by Administrator    Wednesday, 24 March 2010 11:57    PDF Print E-mail

Thai Silk

Things to Buy in Phuket

Long one of Thailand’s most famous products, silk weaving is still one of the major crafts in many rural areas. The variety of materials available in Phuket is wide, and varies both in design - from the traditional to modern to plain colours -and quality - 2 ply is thin and light, 3 or more ply becomes heavier and more expensive. Tailors, jewellery and souvenir shops in all areas carry silk. Many shops will tailor modern dresses or shorts from this at a fraction of the price you would pay back home.

 

Ceramics

Things to Buy in Phuket

The two major centres for ceramic production are the well-known Chiang Mai, and Ratburi west of Bangkok. The produce an amazing range of wares from very traditional Thai and even Chinese tableware and decorative items to modern home decor shapes, the biggest of which you’ll need a truck to move. Some of these more modern items are creative and interesting. There is a fair range spread around the island, but you’ll have to drive and hunt to find it all.


Woodcarving
Most of this comes from the craft centres of Chiang Mai, and again, Thai skills show through in a great variety of items that can be both novel and creative or entirely traditional. Buddha images are one of the standards, but you can find figurines of all kinds and many other off-beat things for home decoration. Thailand makes some great teak furniture, though only a little is available in Phuket.


Antiques

Things to Buy in Phuket

Beware if you’ll looking for genuine antiques, for this is one real danger zone in Thailand. Read the passage on Instant Antiques carefully. And remember that most genuinely old pieces of traditional Thai art, including Buddha images, require permits to take from the country.


Instant Antiques

Things to Buy in Phuket

This sounds like a contradiction. But this is now a thriving new industry in Thailand that arose in response to the overwhelming demand for beautiful old things and the short supply. Originally, cunning entrepreneurs crafted and carefully ‘aged’ wood, bronze and stone artworks to sell off as genuine antiques. But they produced such beautiful things that demand grew, and the industry came out into the open. Today a whole villages of skilled workers produce beautiful objects of art that appear ancient, but which are sold cheaply as ‘reproductions’. This makes ‘antiques’ available to everyone, takes the pressure off the genuinely old things, and, best of all, virtually no-one can tell the difference between the ancient and the reproduction that you place in your home.

 

Handicrafts

Again, many of these come from Chiang Mai in the north, and you can find a range of things in all three of the island’s shopping areas: Nathon (generally the best for shopping), XXXX (best area for tailors) and XXXX. Thailand produces all kinds of beautiful things from many traditional materials like bamboo, cane, silk, wood, paper etc. The range available on the island is quite good, and the fun is in the hunting.  

 

Designer Clothing and Shoes - and fakes
Here there are both many fakes and many genuine, brand-name goods. Some of the world’s most famous brands have established factories in Thailand as export bases (Reebok, Nike for example). They put their products on the local market at prices well below those overseas, making for real bargains. But one must beware, for Thailand is also famous for its ability to copy, and there are many of these also on the market. Some buyers are quite pleased with these copies, so long as they come at ‘copy’ prices. So it’s a fun world out there shopping.

 

Custom Tailoring
This is definitely bargain country in Phuket. Tailors can import their wares easily to Phuket, and their overhead costs are low. Skills range from excellent to barely adequate, so look carefully and you can go home with both quality and real savings. It is important to start with a tailor early in your visit, for at least two visits will be needed, and those who are a little more finicky should plan on three visits to get things just right. Allow two or three days between each visit

 

Jewellery – (beware of the scams)
Bangkok is the undisputed gemstone capital of the world. A large portion of the world’s diamonds, rubies and sapphires and other precious stones are imported raw into Thailand, cut and set by Thailand’s skilled workforce, and exported - often back to the countries they came from. Most of South Africa’s diamonds, Australia’s opal, Burma’s rubies, Sri Lanka’s varied gems pass through Bangkok for processing. Thailand is definitely the best place to purchase precious stones and jewellery, but with transport costs so low Phuket also offers good buys. But be warned: purchase only from a well-established shop, and hopefully you will know at least a little about the gemstones you desire before entering the shop.

 

Remember that if you are taken to a jewellery store in Phuket by a guide, a taxi driver or other local they are likely receiving a hefty commission. This can often be as high as 30% of your purchase, a fee that simply goes on top of your bill. It’s much better to drive your self to one of the jewellery stores. If stopping over in Bangkok, but jewellery there for there is a greater choice of shops and the commission racket is not so pervasive. 

 

 

 
Phuket Magazine Vol.25 No.1