SHOPPING IN BANGKOK
Like most big cities, there are two main types of shopping places in Bangkok. One is markets, and the other, shopping centres &
department stores. Foreign shoppers who would like to touch the atmosphere of Thai-style market, seek for low-priced goods or love
to bargain should go to markets. Prices in some shops and stalls in shopping centres can also be bargained, but not as much as in
Bangkok has quite a number of good quality department store and superstore chains such as Central and Robinson. They have many branches
located around Bangkok and other big cities. The following are some leading shopping centres grouped into areas.
Classic buys such as exquisite Thai silk, gems and jewellery, and precious antiques are rightly at the top of most shopping lists, as
are leading international brand-name products. But there is also much that is now, and Thailand today pulses with artistic innovation.
Inspired by traditional crafts, talented Thai designers are finding imaginative new applications of ancient forms and styles, transforming
fabrics, gemstones, wood, ceramics and synthetic materials into international-quality cotemporary clothing, accessories, jewellery, home-furnishings and décor items.
Paralleling creative development has been the physical growth of Bangkok, where travellers will now find a dazzling array of modern
air-conditioned shopping plazas and malls housing glittering department stores as well as select independent boutiques. These compliment
rather than replace the many old-style markets and street stalls, the biggest of which is the famed Chatuchak Weekend Market, a veritable
Aladdin’s cave for dedicated shopper and browser alike. As a final note on shopping, bear in mind that while fixed prices are the norm
in department stores and some of Bangkok’s larger shops, bargaining is not only acceptable but also expected at most other place.
There are no hard-and-fast rules for bargaining, but patience and a broad smile will serve you well in enjoying shopping as an art.
Thailand’s high-quality bronzeware has long been a favourite item for visiting shoppers. Produced by traditional techniques yet
employing a number of modern innovations like a silicon coat to prevent tarnishing, this craft is employed on bowls and cutlery
guaranteed to provoke admiration at a dinner party back home, as well as on large, striking figures, both animal and human, ideal
for home decorations.
A northern craft particularly popular in Chiang Mai, lacquerware is used for boxes, bowls, trays, and countless other items that
brighten a room and serve as a souvenir of a visit to Thailand. While in Chiang Mai, be sure to go to a factory and view the
painstaking process by which each item is produced.
Thai Silk :
Thai silk is famous throughout the world and few visitors will want to leave without buying some of this lustrous handwoven fabric.
Originally used mainly for clothing, it now comes in heavier weights and is finding widespread popularity in household furnishing
for draperies and upholstery. Countless shops in Bangkok and elsewhere in the country offer both plain and printed silks, by the yard
or made into the latest ready-to-wear fashions. Silk is also used for place mats and napkins, neckties, scarves, and to cover such
souvenirs as notebooks, jewelry boxes, and eye-glass cases.
Cotton and Batik :
Thai cotton, once rarely seen outside the country, is gaining international reknown because of its supple texture and durability.
It now comes in as broad a range of colours and prints as silk, often adorned with delicate embroidery, and is used for both
clothing and household items like bedspreads, table linen, cushion covers, and rugs. Among the specialty cotton goods that are
attracting increasing interest are those made by the hill tribes of the north, with bold designs and a lavish use of fine embroidery.
In addition several studios, mainly in Bangkok, specialize in original batik designs on both cotton and silk.
Gems and Jewelry :
Exceptional gem bargains can be found in Thailand, not only in such native stones as rubies, sapphires both blue and black,
zircons, garnets, and turquoise but also in imported ones brought here for cutting and setting by local artisans. The creation
of fine jewelry in distinctive settings is one of the fastest-growing new Thai industries and many international
connoisseurs now come here especially to add pieces to their collection; most shops have a wide selection of original items and can also make
others to specific designs supplied by the customer.
Gold and Silver :
The ultimate cost of an ornament depending on the workmanship, and since the latter is relatively
inexpensive there are excellent bargains in gold chains, earrings, bracelets, pendants, and other such items, all delicately handicrafted.
Most Bangkok goldsmiths are concentrated in the Yaowarat area, known as the capital's Chinatown, but every jewelry shop has a selection