Supercheap in Phuket

Warehouse-like Shop in Phuket Town

Supercheap, just north of Phuket Town, is well worth a visit. Almost the size of a city block, it is a sprawling warehouse-like shop stacked high with every product you could possibly imagine and more. If there is any logic to it, it would be difficult to explain, but its seeming lack of logic is the very essence of its charm. Retail chaos under one roof is hard to come by in the west but here in Thailand it is very much alive and kicking.

As you enter the building you’ll pass through a gamut of stalls selling readymade meals, deep-fried food, sushi, grilled chicken, and a fan-cooled restaurant section in which to eat your purchased food. To the side, you’ll notice an air-conditioned room that sells ice creams, desserts and beer.

SPECIAL ANNOUCEMENT: Supercheap Phuket burnt down in the evening of Oct 16th, 2013. Its reconstruction may take several months.

Leave your bag at the entrance counter and take a ticket to reclaim it later. Grab a squeaky-wheeled oversized trolley and away you go. Supercheap is only ventilated in certain parts so do dress lightly otherwise you’ll have a sticky experience. Inside, the first items you’ll pass are household plants next to a mobile phone stand. Next up come the plastic rain ponchos so essential in Thailand if you want to ride a motorcycle in the rain.

The following section sells electronic goods such as stereos, hi-fi speakers, amplifiers, fans (another essential), air con units, lamps, hairdryers, a separate flat-screen TV room, microphones, neon tubes, house telephones, blenders, rice cookers, coffee percolators and, strangely enough, gas stoves and bottles. Parallel to this is a stand selling both clocks and fishing rods.

 

Supercheap is like an insight into Thai mentality and nowhere is this plainer than in the huge noodle selection. Boxes of ‘Mama’ and ‘Yum Yum’ noodles are piled high and sell fast. Once past the liquor store (local restaurateurs are known to buy their alcohol wholesale here) you’ll enter a labyrinth of alleyways lined with goods.

This is where the questions begin: Why is the soup next to the soap? Why is air freshener next to the mosquito repellent which is in turn opposite the large (and fascinating) Buddhist accessory section? Why do guitars and pens go together? And why is there so much shampoo for sale? In a parallel alley are the energy drinks. Did you know that Red Bull is a Thai invention? Juices, cordials, milk products and more are stacked high here and before you know it you’re surrounded by huge water melons and corn cobs but immediately after this you’re strolling through the bottled water section which in turn leads into the fish and seafood part.

Here, there are live and filleted fish for sale. This part of Supercheap is pretty hard on the nose but anyone with a delicate stomach should definitely stay away from the meat section. Even though it’s in a separate room, the smell is still super pungent and quite disturbing.

Quickly moving on, you’ll find yourself entering alleys of 60kg rice sacks, bags of nuts, more noodles, flour and – all of a sudden – cement mixers. Yes, cement mixers. That’s because you’ve now entered the hardware section, which of course leads into the goldfish and domestic pet part. But of course, there’s a lot more to this place, including a car and motorcycle accessory outlet, a well-equipped pharmacy and lots of household goods. Half the fun of visiting Supercheap is trying to understand the sequence of it. It really doesn’t make sense but it’s one of the most unusual Phuket experiences.

Did you know?

• Supercheap has satellite branches all over Phuket. Look for the purple supermarkets piled high with bargain goods - mostly foodstuff
• It is partially fabricated from rubber tree trunks and has a corrugated iron roof
• Its pharmacy section is the cheapest in Phuket and sells prescription drugs over the counter
• Even though Supercheap sells wholesale, you can still buy individual products at the cheapest prices on the island

Supercheap

Opening Hours: 06:00 – 23:00
Location: Thepkasattri Road, Phuket Town, on the road heading north out to Phuket airport
Tel: +66 (0)76 216 791

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