Shopping opportunities abound on Koh Samui, with a wide range of stalls and shops dotted around the island’s main beach areas. To find the most choice, visitors are inevitably drawn to Chaweng; Koh Samui’s main tourist hub. The entire length of the main beach road is lined with everything from local stalls selling souvenirs or electronics all the way up to designer retailers who stock internationally-renowned brands of clothing and goods.
While Samui isn’t noted as a shopping destination per se, a huge amount of merchandise changes hands, since things are such good value and shopping makes a fun holiday pastime. You will invariably go home with a fuller suitcase (or buy new ones), since the range of handicrafts, souvenirs, clothing, and even electronics, is quite appealing. Prices are attractive, to boot.
These are the best places to pick up a bargain while shopping on Samui and can be found on the pavements of Chaweng and Lamai by night. Get your bargaining boots on!…more
Charming handicrafts, from toys and gifts to home décor items, clothing and cultural bric-a-brac, are bound to catch your eye and your wallet…more
Thailand’s signature product is the soft, colourful, hand-woven silk garments ranging from scarves and ties to tailored suits. Quite affordable and pleasing to wear, find it at the market or in boutiques…more
Probably not what you came to Samui to buy but Thailand is awash with impressive Southeast Asian antiques or authentic look-a-likes; ideal to furnish your tropical villa or Thai-inspired living room…more
Where to shop in Samui
Thai artisans use a range of materials to create their handicrafts. On Samui you will find everything from kitchenware to sculptures and Buddhist icons. The latter are carved from various types of wood, including durable coconut wood, mango wood and water hyacinth, among others. Although prices are inflated on the island and the range doesn’t compete with Bangkok, shopping all across Thailand presents great value and is popular with visitors. There are no malls, but places like Chaweng and Lamai have plenty of boutiques selling all sorts of interesting, great value goods.
Beautifully-embellished fabrics are also popular and commonly created using cotton, silk or a mixture of both. The cotton is usually elaborately-woven, patterned and coloured with a myriad of natural dyes. Cotton placemats and tablecloths are just a few of the home wares made using this process. The material also comes as lightweight, durable local-style clothing and bags.
Then, of course, there’s silk, one of Thailand’s most famous exports. It is traditionally woven by hand, giving a rough and natural texture that is difficult to replicate with machine-woven silk. The beautiful designs and styles available are matched only by the creative use of colour found in Thai silk products, which can include anything from place settings to scarves and shawls. On the whole, clothing presents excellent value in Thailand, from casual beachwear to brand names manufactured locally.
It is likely during your trip to the island’s shopping spots that you will be enticed by the bargains to be had at the numerous stalls selling DVDs, CDs and Computer games, which can be bought for almost criminal prices. Do bear in mind that most of these are pirated copies, so it is not merely the prices that are criminal. Any such product found upon return to your home country will, without doubt, be confiscated. Still, that doesn’t stop thousands of visitors stocking up on the latest movies and music for a 10th of the prices they would pay back home.
If you’re looking for something really special to remind you of your time on Samui, you might want to consider a trip to one of the numerous local art houses that line the island’s beach roads, where gifted artists display their talent. Many of these outlets concentrate on replica work and often keep extensive files of famous images from which you can choose your piece.
Wherever you spend your shopping money, you will no doubt get very good value, especially if you’ve been honing your bargaining tools. Thai people love to haggle and will expect you to participate with gusto. Try your luck, but remember in Thailand you’re often bargaining over the value of just a few dollars, so take it all with a sense of fun. Thailand is known as ‘The Land of Smiles’ and often a big cheesy grin will be your best bargaining tool.