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When you travel in Thailand, you will be surrounded by markets and shops selling all kinds of products, which are hard to resist. The amount of wonderful souvenirs Thailand has to offer is incredible. They range from the finest silk in the world, which is patiently handwoven, to beautiful handicrafts created by the hands of skillful artists, and from replicas of antiques found inside temples and old cities to healthy and useful coconut oil products.
Souvenirs are sold all over the major cities. Often, markets are the hearts of cities and the places where tourists choose to spend a lot of their time. Wandering around a market, picking a gift for a friend or a small object for your house, is a small pleasure that Thailand offers in the best way possible.
Thai silk is rightfully considered to be the best in the world. It is completely handwoven and no two pieces look exactly alike. The intricacy of its patterns is stunning, and the use of threads in alternating tones gives Thai silk a peculiar color-changing sheen.
In Bangkok, Jim Thompson is the most recommended place. There is a huge store on Surawong Road, and there are many others inside different luxury hotels. You can also check what’s available in Almeta, another good shop selling Thai silk that’s exclusively manufactured in northern Thailand.
Genuine Thai silk is far more expensive than fake silk. When burned, it smells like human hair whereas fake silk smells like plastic. The pattern has small imperfections since it is completely loomed by hand.
Feel it with your hand and put it under different lights — the texture and the color-changing sheen cannot be faked. Look for the Royal Peacock logo, which is the certification trademark established by the royal family.
You will taste a Thai dish that you love and want to cook when you’re back at home. Buying bags of Thai spices is the only way to recreate the authentic flavor. They are sold in dry vacuum-sealed packs while chili pastes and hot sauces are sold in air-tight bottles.
Some of the most common spices and herbs used in Thai cuisine are galangal, which is a relative of ginger, turmeric, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and Thai basil. They are usually used to make pastes or broths – they are boiled for a long time to release all their flavor – and many noodle dishes are topped with chopped herbs.
Chatuchak Market is a great place to buy packs of spices. The variety is incredible and you will definitely find what you are looking for. Another great place in Bangkok is Little India where, as well as Thai spices, you will also find Indian spices for a tasty, explosive mix. Local markets and shops, such as 7-Eleven, also have a good quantity of spices.
If you can, try to pick whole spices and grind them yourself. This helps you avoid buying a pack of ground spices that has been sitting on a shelf for months. Always check the pack is well-sealed and that it doesn’t appear to be old. Try to buy your spices where the locals buy them from as they know the best places.
Every market in Thailand has myriads of Thai handicrafts. They are amazing products and small works of art you will want to take home. There are triangle cushions, wicker baskets, wooden carvings, and much more. Local artisans spend lots of time producing them, but their prices are never too expensive. A cushion cover is one of the best choices to buy.
In Bangkok, Asiatique and Chatuchak are the best places to go. They sell most types of handicrafts and it is easy to get a bargain. ThaiCraft sells products made by ethnic minorities and it holds monthly fairs in Bangkok.
Touching and examining the handicraft is a good way to tell the quality of the product. It should be made of a solid material and it will be obvious that it’s handmade. We recommend that you buy products made by ethnic minorities as they are good quality and ethical, and to avoid crafts made with animal fur or ivory.
The best crafts you can buy are wooden boxes, which are always wonderfully carved. Other good objects to buy are cushion covers and woven rattans.
You will find good silver jewelry for a fair price in Thailand. Most of these beautiful objects are handcrafted by hill tribes in the north of the country. Showy pieces of silver jewelry, from necklaces to rings, are an important part of the hill tribes’ traditional attire.
Many vendors in the Night Bazaar in Chiang Mai sell good quality silver items made by the northern hill tribes. Khao San Road and Silom Road in Bangkok are also good shopping places.
There is an easy way to be sure that you are buying a genuine silver item. Just look for the .925 stamp, which means that that object is made of 92.5% silver. There are also higher quality pieces, made of 99% silver.
Be aware of replicas and fake jewelry. Fake silver jewelry is usually really light and the stamp, if there is one, might be off-center or fuzzy. For gold objects, check to see whether they are fading or not — if so, they are fake as genuine gold never fades.
Unlike many other souvenirs, genuine antiques are expensive and rare. Taking them back home is also made harder by strict government regulations. To take an item out of the country that is considered part of the Thai national heritage, you need a permit from the Fine Arts Department.
It is really easy to find replicas, however, that are available at cheaper prices and are still beautiful objects. Replicas are crafted by skillful artists and are still beautiful items, which are ideal to decorate your house with.
Replicas are easy to find in Chatuchak Market. For higher quality products, go to The Silom Galleria on Silom Road. The River City Shopping Complex is another excellent place.
If your purpose is to decorate your house and you are not an expert in antiques, apply some easy rules of thumb. Look for untidiness in the decorative details and for any small pieces that may have fallen off. The price should reflect the quality of the craftsmanship.
With so many items to take back home with you, you will need large baggage for your next trip to Thailand. Let us help you start planning your trip now. Our knowledgeable staff will assist you with every step, from the planning stage to on-site assistance, doing everything to ensure you and your family enjoy a hassle-free trip.