Entering Expo, a bazaar-like shopping emporium in Phuket Town, is a little like going to the weekend market without its extreme weather and jostling crowds. In other words Expo has all the same goods but is a whole lot more comfortable as a shopping experience.
Expo’s main entrance is open to the street and lined with ceiling fans with a central double bench running through it. The bazaar is air conditioned further in and the first impression is that this is actually a quiet shopping venue – which is to say the very least rather unusual in Thailand.
Stall after stall features a startling array of goods such as children’s superhero costumes, men’s formal and casual wear, even sexy ladies’ wasp tops, men’s boxers (a bargain) and even gloves to keep your hands nice and warm through tropical Thailand’s harsh winters. Most goods here are colourful but hardly what you could call quality. Yes, there is a stand selling Ray-Bans at reasonable prices but this is Thailand and even quality-control stickers and guarantees can be faked so they count for nothing.
In the centre of Expo is what most visitors will be looking for – a souvenir stand with carved wooden clocks, handsome wooden vases and candleholders. There are even a couple of gold merchants although shopping for gold in Thailand is best done in official designated outlets. Finally, this wouldn’t be Thailand without a place to snack and here it is – a fast food outlet with a series of stalls each selling Asian versions of burgers and fries – rice and chicken combinations.
In summary, Expo is a little higgledy-piggledy, a tad confused and not very focused but it’s a quiet and cool experience and best of all, the vendors and hawkers do not hassle passersby. Take your time here and remember the golden rule in bargaining – smile.