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Shopping around Samui

The major villages of Chaweng, Nathon, Lamai and Maenam all have central commercial districts. Nathon is ideal for daytime shopping with a very wide variety of stores and a market. Chaweng has many high street shops and also at night, open late, is a street market and the newly opened Tesco Lotus superstore where you can buy many well known items.

Thai cushion
Tesco Lotus superstore

Many souvenirs, clothes, jewellery etc. are produced on mainland Thailand and brought to Samui. By comparison to Bangkok or Chiang Mai some products may not seem like the bargains you had hoped they would be. But they're still likely to be less expensive than they are at home. Try to make the best purchase possible and get a fair price.

Soap-carving
shop carving

Colourful, small flowers, carved skillfully from soap, and placed in nice lacqered boxes, can be brought from many roadside stalls. With a bit of luck you can watch how such a delicate flower is carved from an ordinary bar of soap.

Wall hangings
wall hangings

Wall hangings can be bought in so many styles and fabrics that it will be easy to find soemthing you like. The example in the photo shows elephants on cloth, heaverly embroidered with gold thread and imitation gems.

Rattan, Bamboo and Wickerwork
rattan and wickerwork

There is a large variety of items available; ranging from a small bag to large piece of furniture. The prices are not too high, and large items can easily be shipped overseas.

Jewellery

A wide selection of skillfully crafted jewellery can be found on Koh Samui. You can buy Thai gold that contains a much higher percentage of gold and is therefore much softer than 18 and 24 karat gold associated with the west.
A number of gem stones, like rubies and sapphires are mined in Thailand, others are imported from places such as Cambodia and Vietnam. Bangkok is one of the biggest gem trading centres in the world.
Unless you are an expert, it is good advise to purchase jewellery only in established shops. This way you may avoid adding one more complaint to the Tourist Authourity of Thailand about jewellery scams.

Ceramics
ceramics

Ceramics have been produced in Thailand for hundreds of years. Many styles show a Chinese influence. But there are some types that are distinctively Thai. One of them is Celadon; easily recognizable by its characteristic cracked patina over a very light green glaze. A second one is Bencharong, with its colourful enamelled surface. You can buy a small pot or a complete dinner set.

A bargaining tip: Smile when you say "that seems a little expensive!" Thai merchants do not respond well to aggressive, loud, or insistent tactics. You may consider yourself a good negotiator, but remember that in the Land of Smiles, the friendlier and calmer you remain, the better deal you are likely to get.

Here are a selection of handicrafts and souvenirs that are available on Koh Samui.

Wood-carving
wood carving

You can buy many high quality hand carved items from figurines to furniture. Items made from coconut wood are a produced locally on Samui and can be found at Hin Ta Hin Yai (Granfather and Grandmother Rocks) as well as at many roadside stalls.

Silk and Cotton
Thai cushion

Handwoven Thai silk is famous all over the world. Silk production in Thailand dates back to ancient times. It was beginning to die out when Jim Thompson, after the Second World War, put all his effort in reviving the ancient tradition of silk production, centered mostly in the North and North-East of Thailand, it has become a booming export business. The uneven and slightly rough texture of Thai silk is not a sign of poor quality, it means that the cloth was made without artificial processesing.
A great variety of silk items, such as ties, shirts, dresses and cushions are available, you can also have all sorts of clothes tailored to your own measurements.

Masks and Puppets
puppets and masks

Masks and puppets have traditionally been used for dance performances and puppet shows in Thailand. Although performances have become rare, masks and puppets are still sold as souvenirs. You can buy shadow puppets, skillfully cut out from buffalo skin. Furthermore there ia a wide selection of marionettes, rod puppets, masks of ancient gods and demons.

Lacquerware
 

The production of lacquerware consists of applying several layers of lacquer on wood. Delicate, hand painted motives and patterns are then applied with either gold or coloured paint.

Antiques
 

Beautiful, charming Thai antiques, ranging from ceramics, tapestries, statues and puppets to baskets, cabinets, doors and temple artifacts are available on the island. If you want to purchase a genuine Thai antique, be very careful. A whole industry has been setup to in order to produce first quality reproductions. Buy from a reputable shop. An export permit is required for every antique and buddha image. Some of the antique shops can arrange this for you.

Fake Goods
fake goods

Fake goods are widley available on Koh Samui. They can be of high quality. Do you fancy wearing a Rolex watch, Channel T-shirt or Quicksilver shorts? All that and much more can be purchased from market stalls. A wide selection of CD's, VCD's and DVD's are also for sale. Be aware that customs officers may confiscate fakes.

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