Phuket Old Town is a shopper’s paradise. Its colourful historical streets are packed with charming, unique shops which have been operating for generations, selling everything from high-quality clothing to fascinating curios, second-hand books to brand new bicycles and old antiques to new artworks. Moreover, the whole area is pretty much entirely devoid of any big brand outlets or chain stores, making it a truly unique retail experience.
Of course, this lack of familiar names does come with a disadvantage – how can you tell which are the must-visit great shops in Phuket Town? Where are you sure to find the best bargains, combining great quality with affordable prices to give you the best value for your money? We’ve done the leg-work for you and the following list shows our pick of the many boutiques to be found in Phuket Old Town.
Ban Boran Textiles
There are two Ban Boran shops downtown Phuket (‘Boran’ means ‘antique’ in Thai) – but they’re not related in any way except that both sell high-quality products. This shop along Yaowarat Road sells silk and cotton clothing from tribal sources both from Thailand and nearby countries. Ban Boran does not have bargain basement prices but quality is assured. You’ll also find attractive sandals, bags, lacquerware boxes, lamps, tribal bracelets (1,300 baht) and pendants (600 baht) along with elegant wooden friesework. Silk shirts (the colours are guaranteed not to run) cost up to 2,500 baht. English is spoken here and although it’s a rather hot experience it’s definitely worth a visit.
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 21:30
- Address: 51 Yaowarat Road
Think Positive (‘Kit Dee’)
Also along Yaowarat Road is Think Positive – a fascinating emporium of Japanese, Chinese, Burmese, Thai, and Indian knick-knacks and clothes. Here, you’ll be able to examine a vast collection of Buddha image heads, Chinese and Japanese silk gowns, wooden painted ornaments and woven boxes costing between 900 – 1,400 baht. Of course you can bargain with the Burmese shop assistant but the real deal can only be done when the boss is there. Piles of Kashmir wool and rough Thai silk await you at the entrance and Think Positive has more items for sale than it can count. This is a very interesting shopping experience.
- Opening Hours: 09:00 – 22:00 (flexible)
- Address: 15 Yaowarat Road
One of the most striking shops on the island; it’s also one of the most discreet. Fittingly, Ban Boran is neighbours to one of Phuket Town’s other discreet success stories, Khao Jok-Si restaurant. The downstairs part to this two-storey shop-house features hill-tribe jackets, silver amulets, valuable wooden and bronze sculptures and silver artifacts (one Chinese hill-tribe necklace retails for 39,000 baht and a silver opium pipe goes for almost 8,000 baht). You’ll also find antique wickerwork baskets and Burmese wooden puppet heads. Upstairs, the selection widens to encapsulate an impressive metallic temple drum (a cool 300,000 baht), a pendulous elephant bell, 14-karat gold accessories from Sri Lanka and large praying Buddha images. Ban Boran is well worth a visit.
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 23:00 (flexible)
- Address: 24 Takuapa Road
Despite its prepossessing bright-red exterior, the ground floor of China Inn doesn’t look much out of the ordinary until you take a closer look and then you’ll notice racks of cotton waistcoats, ladies’ shirts, Buddha images and over in the corner a splendid Laos golden Buddha. It’s just about then that you’ll come across a nice surprise at the back: a garden restaurant serving international and Thai specialities. So relax and have a cool drink or two over a snack before heading upstairs to have a root through Chinese clothing selection. China Inn opens for lunch but on week days close relatively early. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Mon – Sat Lunch untill early evening (Closed Sunday)
- Address: Next to Kopitiam, 20 Thalang Road
Siam Indigo is in fact better known as one of the leading Thai ‘retro-fusion’ restaurants in Phuket Town but it also houses a fine collection of mosaic art and features an adjacent shop selling mostly women’s clothing and accessories. Like at the restaurant, prices are never exaggerated (although some of the mosaic works in the dining area by Chiang Mai artist ‘Chai’ can be a little costly) and the atmosphere is always convivial and friendly. Siam Indigo holds a ‘Hip & Chic’ market every Sunday from 15:00 – 20:00 that also features arts and crafts. This is an ideal place for a good meal and relaxed shopping at reasonable prices.
- Opening Hours: 14:00 – 23:00
- Address: 8 Phang Nga Road