Shopping in Phuket

Shopping is one of Thailand's many attractions. The world has globalised a lot in recent years and many of the cheap items such as clothing that once seemed like absolute bargains in Thailand, are now available at similar prices in western countries. However, there are still plenty of bargains to be had and anyway, many people just LIKE shopping.

The best bargains are for Thai produced goods. Prices for imported goods such as electrical items are similar to western prices. Some of the best bargains include clothing, textiles, handicrafts, ceramics, gold, silver, pearls, jewelry, furniture, antiques and art.

Phuket has a wide range of shopping outlets and a tremendous variety of goods for sale. The best shopping is away from the tourist resorts where you will find much better deals. Phuket Town and the surrounding area have the best range of shops with good quality goods for sale at bargain prices. You should shop around to get an idea of the prices for the goods you want.

Haggling

Haggling is an intrinsic part of shopping in Thailand. Remember not to take it seriously - a smile or a joke will get you a lot further. The prices in department stores and supermarkets cannot be haggled. In the independent shops away from the tourist resorts, you can negotiate small discounts. If the goods have marked prices then they are probably already competitive and you will not get a big reduction. Remember if prices are not marked then they will often quote a higher price to foreigners than to Thai customers, so you have more room for negotiation. At the tourist town shops and stalls the prices quoted are often much higher than they should be and you can negotiate big discounts and still be paying over the top.

If you are not happy with the price then smile and walk away - they will often call you back with a better offer.

Fake Goods

Fake designer goods and copied CDs are widely available. Recently, the authorities have tried to crack down on this trade and for a while, they were successful. After numerous raids on the stallholders, they seized many millions of baht worth of fake goods and arrested several stallholders. The fake goods briefly disappeared but once the pressure eased, they soon came back.

As long as you understand the goods are fake, then it is your choice whether to purchase. Some of the fakes are good quality while others are very poor. If you want the genuine article then you should go to the department stores where the prices are still generally lower than you would pay at home.

OTOP

You may see the acronym OTOP. It stands for One Tambon One Product. This is a government-sponsored initiative to create small local industries in Thailand. A tambon is the Thai equivalent of a district or parish. The idea of OTOP is to offer every tambon in Thailand the chance to create its own small industry producing a local product and providing employment for local people. The government provides packaging, distribution and marketing assistance. OTOP products are typically local handicrafts, clothing, dried fruits, wines, etc. The quality is usually good and the prices are reasonable, although not always the cheapest. If you buy OTOP products, you have the satisfaction of knowing you are supporting small local industries in Thailand.

There is an OTOP market in Patong at the north end of Rat-U-Thit Road behind Holiday Inn, although we must say that most of the merchandise sold there is not OTOP. There are often OTOP stalls at the major shopping malls or at the fairs that are regularly held across the island.

Beachside Stalls

For the first time visitor, the initial introduction to Phuket's shopping opportunities is often the beachside stalls. You can find all kinds of trinkets, fake designer labels, copied CDs etc. The first thing to say is this is really not the place to do your shopping. The quality of the goods is variable and the prices are higher than can be found elsewhere. The beachside stallholders are paying high rents for their prime locations and of course, they pass this on to their customers. Their opening price may well be triple or quadruple what they are willing to accept. Even if you haggle them down to their bottom price, you can probably find the same product cheaper elsewhere.

Tourist Town Shops

You can find some good deals in the tourist towns but in general, prices are higher than elsewhere on the island. Land near the beach is very expensive. Rents are therefore expensive and this is passed on to the customer. The further you go from the beach the more likely you are to find good deals. There are many shops and stalls off Rat-U-Thit Road in Patong offering prices lower than the beachfront shops. These prices may seem cheap to most western visitors although in fact they are still high by Thai standards. Ocean Plaza in Bangla Road has some good deals for genuine goods.

Department Stores and Shopping Malls

The easiest places to find good deals are the department stores and supermarkets. The goods have their prices clearly marked and there is no haggling. The prices are good and you can find some real bargains.

The shopping malls contain a mixture of chain shops and independents. Most of the independent shops and some of the chains will haggle their prices but not by large amounts.

Cash & Carry

There are two large cash and carry stores in Phuket. They are aimed at business owners and residents but anybody can shop there.

Markets

If you want an authentic Thai shopping experience, you cannot beat a visit to one of the many markets. There are markets everywhere in Phuket. Most of them are selling fresh food such as fruit, vegetables, meat and fish but there are also markets selling clothes and other merchandise. A wander around a Thai market is a colourful and entertaining experience. You will marvel at the extraordinary variety of bizarre foods many of which you will not recognise.

Speciality Shops

 

 




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