Written by Administrator
Wednesday, 24 March 2010 11:57
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.
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.
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.
Beware if you’ll looking for genuine antiques, for this is one real danger zone
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
– (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.
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.