Country-wide, Thailand’s night markets are a great place to browse at leisure, with lots of snacks in between. Hotel gift shops – especially resort hotels – tend to have great little finds with your luggage limits (and mother-in-law) in mind.
What to wear for shopping in Thailand? Find out what to wear anywhere in Thailand – day and night, fancy malls or humid night markets.
If you’re in a rush, supermarkets in tourist hubs tend to have a decent selection of ‘stocking stuffer’ type souvenirs – key chains, coin purses and small tokens to bring back to the office. For the supremely lazy (or tactical), beach vendors are available, but are never pushy.
THE BEST OF BANGKOK SHOPPING
You could spend the rest of your life shopping in Bangkok, no joke. As such, nothing we say could come close to the extreme level of expertise available in Nancy Chandler’s Map of Bangkok (a labour of love she and her daughter have continually updated over 27 [!!!] editions). On your Kindle, refer to Bangkok Shopping Made Easy.
The two biggest malls in Thailand both have hotels either connecting or directly across the street. Book a night or two’s stay at either of the following to ensure you won’t have to haul your loot very far:
KOH SAMUI’S BEST SHOPPING
Central Festival + The Wharf: New shopping complexes (Central Festival in Chaweng and The Wharf, an outdoor pedestrian mall in Bophut) are adding brand new shine to Koh Samui’s shopping scene (and really extend your rainy day options).
Nathon: Otherwise, shopping in Nathon (Koh Samui’s capital) is definitely worth a few hours of your itinerary.
Tesco: For air-conditioned shopping, Tesco supermarket (yes, really) and its surrounding mall complex is great for basic made-in-China clothing – T-shirts, shorts, tank tops and a large selection of kids’ clothing.
Koh Samui Airport has a nice selection of shops in something approximating an American outdoor pedestrian mall. If you want to browse high-end shops in air-conditioned comfort and a time-efficient manner, pop by the airport during opening hours (or resign yourself to carrying your haul home in your carry-on). The shops are before security, so it’s fine to visit just for window shopping.
For even more shopping and souvenir ideas (and where to park your husband/person), The Koh Samui Guide – as always – is ready to help.
Finally, double-check this very thorough Thailand packing list to pack as lightly as possible – leaving all your luggage allowance for buying the best things Thailand has to offer. Enjoy!