All of Thailand is known for its fantastic shopping, and Phuket is no exception. Particularly fine examples of handicrafts from around the country are available at the tourist markets and speciality shops of the beach centres, Phuket Town and at Canal Village in the Laguna Phuket complex – which also boasts a branch of Jim Thompson’s, the Thai silk specialists.
Phuket is also the source of several gift and souvenir shops with products including cultured pearls, neilloware, pewterware, ornaments and dried seafood. Specialist shops dealing in souvenir products can be found on Rasada, Phangnga, Montri, Yaowarat, and Tilok-U-Thit roads, in Phuket Town, Thepkrassatri Road, north of town and at the beach centres of Patong, Kata, Karon and Rawai.
Phuket offers some of Thailand’s best selection of handcrafted wares at very affordable prices. No visit to Phuket is complete without visiting some of the unique shops to bring home that perfect souvenir to bring you years of fond memories of this beautiful island.
Some of the difficult choices you will be faced with will be what to buy (and what not to buy) and how much you can fit into your luggage. The items available range from fine Thai silk, to elegant teakwood carvings, handpainted parasols, beautiful and colorful batiks, fine pewterware, and southern Thailand’s famous pearls.
Phuket’s rapidly developing infrastructure has also allowed for a considerable growth in shopping opportunities. Several large department stores are located in Phuket Town, Thalang and Patong and two giant supercentres – Tesco Lotus and Big C – have recently opened on the Bypass Road, north of Phuket Town, offering easy shopping for long stay visitors and yacht charter tourists. Tailors’ shops are everywhere ; labour costs are inexpensive so a handmade suit is an attractive purchase. Tailors supply the cloth, or you can select your one from one of the many cloth merchants on Thalang Rd., in Phuket Town.
Fixed prices are the norm in department stores and a number of shops in Bangkok, but at most other places bargaining is acceptable and expected. Generally, shopping in Thailand is easy, fun and very rewarding, but the following advice is useful especially when making gem and jewellery purchases :
- Shop around to compare prices – this is especially important with gems and jewellery.
- Obtain a receipt for goods bought and check if is correct before leaving the shop.
- Never let a tout or new found friend take you shopping. Stores give commission to these people, and the cost is reflected in the price you pay.
- Reputable shops will give a written agreement to a full refund on any goods returned within 90 days. If a shop refuses to do this, go eslewhere.
- In general, jewellery items cannot be returned. If refunds are allowed, then often 25-30% of the selling price will be deducted as “costs of damages”. More reputable shops may offer a full refund although usually only within a certain time limit, such as 30 days. Do not believe any claims by shop owners that purchases can be refunded at Thai embassies, consulates or other government offices overseas.