What would a holiday be without a bit of shopping? Gifts for family, friends and colleagues, something to hang on the wall or put on the mantelpiece to remind you of warmer times, something nice and skimpy to wear around the pool on those occasional warm days back home.
It’s all here in Phuket. Ready to punish your wallet? Let’s start with some souvenirs.
- Phuket FantaSea Cultural Theme Park
- Phi Phi Islands Tour with Express Boat
- James Bond Island Full-Day Tour via Big Boat
- Coral & Racha Islands Full-Day Tour
- Whitewater Rafting & 4-Wheel-Drive Adventure
- Sea Kayaking at Ang Thong Marine Park
- Flying Hanuman Ziplining Experience
- Canoeing Excursion in Phang Nga Bay with Thai Buffet Lunch
- Introduction to City Tour
- John Gray's Cave Canoeing Tour in Phang Nga Bay
Phuket is a major centre of very colourful batik, usually made up into sarongs, shirts or bags. Favourite patterns are scenes of brilliant fish swimming among coral or vignettes from traditional island life. If you have enough time, some shops will make batik to your design. How about a shirt with a big red tuk tuk on it? Jet skis? Lizards and frogs? Most batik is sold by small shops in Patong, Rawai and Phuket City.
Produced in the warm waters around the island, Phuket pearls come in a variety of shades from black to cream or white, and in a variety of sizes. There are plenty of jewellers in Phuket who can make elegant settings for you.
To shop for good pearls go to reputable farms or retails companies recommended by the Tourism Authority of Thailand, such as Wang Talang International on Chao Fah West Rd.
Patong is the place to go for paintings, especially around the northern end of Rat-U-Thit Road. The shops range in size from 1-man shows to big operations with up to 50 artists quietly painting away. Many have original paintings for sale, and can also rustle up reproductions of classical or modern masterpieces or even portraits of you and your family. Many customers are particularly enchanted by the Thai art on display, too.
Prices are flexible, so don’t agree to the first quote. If you bargain a bit and the gallery owner is in a good mood, you can get significant discounts. Most of the galleries have efficient packaging and delivery services to anywhere in the world so you don’t have to persuade the airline to let you carry your artwork onto the aircraft as hand luggage.
Phuket cannot claim to be a centre for making furniture in the way that Chiang Mai is, but in the south of Thailand, this island is definitely the place to buy fine wooden cabinets, chests, tables, beautiful lamps and other accessories for your home. There’s a huge selection.
To start with, try Island Furniture Phuket on Chao Fah West Rd, just south of Phuket City. There's also Intercraft Furniture on the same road and several stores in Cherngtalay, near the entrance to the Laguna complex. The larger furniture shops will crate up your furniture and deliver it anywhere in the world.
Bangkok may have a bigger range of antiques than Phuket, but browsing here definitely beats trudging through the streets of the Big Mango, and there’s a surprisingly wide range, including some shops carrying items you simply cannot get anywhere else. Here are some names to get you started:
Soul of Asia on Ratsada Rd, Phuket Town, is the place to find Chinese pottery dating back more than 1,000 years. Chan’s Antiques on the Bypass Road was a pioneer in the art and antiques business in Phuket. It has more than 1,000 sq m of floor space jammed with antiques and art from Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. There are some more places in Cherngtalay, near the entrance to the Laguna complex.