Photos : https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thai_silk, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Thai_wood_carving.JPG
There are many things that attract large numbers of people from all over the world to Thailand, making it a leading tourist centre in this part of the world. Among the main attractions are its great varieties of valuable products that can be bought at favourable prices. To give you an idea of what are the really good buys in this country and where to buy them, here is a brief description of some of the products.
These are high-quality hand-made goods and folk handicrafts under the One Tambon One Product (OTOP) Project. The products range widely from food to consumer goods and decorative objects.
Where to buy : OTOP products are available at most souvenirs shops, shopping plazas and department stores nationwide. The Department of Export Promotion (DEP) has established two medium size outlets in Bangkok and Chiang Mai to display the products, which have been developed to meet world market standards and provide business convenience between local craftsmen and foreign traders.
Bangkok : 6th Fl., Thailand Export Mart Building, Ratchadaphisek Rd. Tel. +66 (0) 2511 5279 to 84
Chiang Mai : 29/19 Singharat Rd., Muang County Tel. +66 (0) 5322 1174, (0) 5322 3164
Famous OTOP products are as follows :
- Textiles and other related products such as ready-made clothes, table cloths, scarfs, etc.
- Artificial flowers
- Wooden furniture
- Furniture from water hyacinth and rattan
- Flowers, stationery and lampshades made of paper mulberry, banana leaves and pineapple leaves
- Ornaments and home decoration items from silver or brassThai Handicrafts
There are several other kinds of handicrafts that are of artistic value, such as pearls, dolls, brassware, bronzeware and artificial flowers, and adorable Thai-style gifts such as mulberry paper products, candle products, and aroma incense box sets. All of these you can conveniently obtain from large department stores, shopping plazas or in the shopping areas in tourist cities such as Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket and Pattaya, where you will find that there are just too many good things to buy and you may be at a loss how to make a choice.
Ceramics & Pottery
Of the various styles of Thai ceramics, Sangkhalok stoneware (the bluish green celadon) and Bencharong porcelain (the five-coloured porcelain) are the most desirable among both Thai and foreign collectors.
Most of the pottery and ceramic items being sold today are reproductions of traditional styles. The products come in various forms, for example, vases, lamp bases, dinner sets, tea sets and souvenir articles. There are a good number of celadon factories in some northern provinces, especially in Chiang Mai.
According to the export growth of ceramics, many communities all over Thailand have produced and develooped ceramics in their own styles.
Where to buy : Big department stores and shopping plazas, ceramics & pottery shops and centres in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Phuket and other provinces.
Related link : Ceramics From daily utensils to forms of living arts
Introduced to the world market only after World War II, Thai silk is perhaps already too well known to need further recommendation. It is hand reeled and hand woven and so has a natural uneven look and a soft shimmering texture which give it its uniqueness. Thai silk is sold by yard and as ready-to-wear clothing or souvenir items such as neckties, scarves, handkerchiefs, shawls, handbags and photo frames.The main production centres of Thai silk fabrics are Chiang Mai, Bangkok and the Northeast.
Where to buy : Big department stores and shopping plazas, silk shops in Bangkok (Women' Thai silk dresses) and major tourist provinces, especially in Chiang Mai.
Tips about silk : Local hand-woven silk can be classified by the way the thread is woven-- one-, two-, or four-thread pattern. To make it easier, silk can also be categorized by weight. Light weight silk, or silk that is woven in one-thread pattern, is suitable for making overblouses, silk skirts which flare out, or any lightweight outfits. Medium weight silk, also known as two-thread pattern, is recommended for making jackets, trousers, skirts, dresses, and men’s shirts.
And the thickest type of silk is called heavy weight silk, or four-thread pattern, which is the best choice for making tuxedos and household decorations. Silk must be washed by hand without rubbing and wringing. Try using lukewarm water with low acidity soap. Putting a few drops of baby oil into the final wash will keep your silk sleek and shiny. However, to preserve silk in its best quality, dry cleaning is recommended.
Matmi (tied-dye) Silk
Matmi is a kind of Thai silk produced in the Northeast of the Kingdom. It is so called because of its peculiar dyeing process, by which the silk threads are tied in the desired pattern before dyeing. It was introduced to the outside markets by Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, as part of her rural development efforts.
Where to buy : Big department stores and shopping plazas, silk fabric shops in Bangkok and major tourist provinces like Pattaya, Chiang Mai and Phuket.
Besides being famous for its exquisite hand-woven silk, Thailand has many high standard tailor shops with superb craftsmanship. Therefore, after selecting your favorite pieces of Thai silk, you can have your garment tailor-made while enjoying your vacation here.
Thailand, especially Bangkok, has plenty of tailor shops where you can have shirts, trousers, suits or any other articles of clothing delicately designed, cut and sewn at reasonable prices. Thai tailors are also good at copying your favourite style of designer clothing. However, one important thing that you should bear in mind is fabric selection, especially for those promoted package deals.
Where to buy : Tailor shops in Bangkok and major tourist provinces.
The wide variety of antiques available in Thailand allows buyers to compare and select freely. At present, what foreigners particularly like include wood carvings, silverware, pottery and other handmade objects. Apart from Thai antiques, most shops also have pieces of neighbouring countries, i.e. Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos and China. And like elsewhere in the world, they stock both authentic and fake items. When the authenticity is in doubt, ask the dealer to guarantee the return of the item.
Where to buy : Antique shops in major tourist cities such as Bangkok, Pattaya, Chiang Mai and Phuket.
You are advised to select and buy them from a shop instead of a street stall whose dealer may not be found when you come back to the site again.
Hand-woven cotton fabrics of the North and Northeast are internationally well known because of their fine flexible texture and durability. They are often used for both clothing and household items like table linen, bedspreads, cushion covers, rugs and curtains. Among them, the most attractive are those made by the hilltribes living in the North, with fine and delicate embroidery. The Northeast is also famous for cotton weaving. Each province has its own distinctive weaving style and patterns.
Where to buy : Big department stores and shopping plazas, cotton & silk fabrics shops in Bangkok and major tourist provinces, especially in the North and Northeast.
Thai garments not only sell briskly on local markets, but have been the number one export commodity of Thailand in recent years. That is because of the low labour cost, cheap raw materials, fashionable designs and fine workmanship.
Where to buy : Bangkok: Big department stores and shopping plazas and garment markets such as Pratunam, Bobe. Other tourist provinces: shopping plazas and garment shops.
Gems & Jewellery
Thailand has become a new leader in the world of gems and jewellery since the early '80s. This has been possible because, first, rich mines of high-grade gemstones, notably rubies and sapphires, have been found in Kanchanaburi and Chanthaburi provinces; secondly, Thailand has plenty of skilful craftsmen and expert designers; thirdly, the cost of labour and the overhead costs are comparatively low in this country; and fourthly, Thailand imposes no import or export duty on raw or cut stones. That is why all kinds of precious stones are sent to Thailand for cutting.
Where to buy : Gems and jewellery shops in Bangkok and major tourist provinces.
Most of the large gold shops are located on Yaowarat Road in Bangkok. Some are about a century old. They are all thriving. They have many foreign customers, especially those from other Southeast Asian countries. Foreign tourists prefer to buy gold ornaments in Thailand because of the large choice, excellent workmanship and beautiful designs. Pure gold ornaments are also available in some jewellery shops.
Where to buy : Gold shops on Yaowarat Road and other business areas in Bangkok and in other major provinces.
Lacquerware is articles made of wood or woven bamboo and coated with layers of lacquer to make it smooth, shiny and durable. To add to its beauty, paints, gold foil, silver foil, eggshells or mother-of-pearl is used in producing designs or pictures on it. It may be in the form of a vase, tray, cup, bowl, picture frame or other utensils and ornamental items. The lacquerware factories in Thailand are concentrated in Chiang Mai.
Where to buy : Big department stores, shopping plazas and souvenir shops in Chiang Mai and elsewhere.
With plentiful supplies of high-quality raw materials and cheap manpower, Thailand is an ideal place to shop for leatherware of good workmanship at reasonable prices. Some of the products are exported to foreign countries to be re-exported after foreign brands are stamped on them.
Where to buy : Big department stores and shopping plazas and leatherware shops.
Nielloware has been made and has enjoyed popularity in Thailand for centuries. The main production centre is Nakhon Si Thammarat in the south of Thailand. Thai nielloware is mostly made of silver and sometimes plated with gold. Its delicately etched designs are filled with a black material (called niello) which is a combination of silver, copper, lead and sulphur. Niello makes the surface more smooth and lustre. Some niello items are bowls, cigarette cases, teapots, picture frames, caskets, necklaces and bracelets.
Where to buy : Big department stores, shopping plazas and souvenir shops especially in southern provinces.
Some of the best handmade pewterware of the world come from Thailand. Thai pewterware is made of 97% pure tin and 3% antimony and copper, and is lead free.
Where to buy : Big department stores and shopping plazas, pewterware shops in major tourist provinces, especially in the South.
The making of silverware is a very ancient art in Thailand. Its use has enjoyed great popularity among the Thai people for centuries. Thai silverware, especially ornaments, is also in great demand on the world market with the United States, European countries and Australia as its main customers.
This is because Thai craftsmen have maintained the traditional fine workmanship of their ancestors and the quality of the products is under the strict control of the government which prescribes that the content of pure silver in silver products must not be less than 92.5 percent. The two main production centres of silverware in Thailand are Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
Where to buy : Silverware shops in Bangkok, Chiang Mai and other tourist provinces.
Several kinds of indigenous plants in Thailand can be used to make designed furniture and various kinds of wickerwork and souvenir items.
Some well-known materials are rattan, bamboo, sedge and bulrush. However, the most famous wickerwork is the basketry made of a southern fern-vine called yan lipao.
The refined yan lipao woven handbags, which have been popular among high society for many years, are now promoted as a precious souvenir from Thailand. Besides handbags, yan lipao is also made into other objects such as hats, trays, picture frames, cigarette cases and coasters.
Where to buy : Big department stores and shopping plazas in Bangkok and other tourist provinces, especially in the South.
Wood carving is an ancient art of the Thai people handed down from the Sukhothai period about 7 centuries ago. Thai wood crafts are famous for their traditional patterns and intricacy. Today, most of the wood carving workshops are concentrated in the northern provinces, such as Lampang, Phrae, Nan and especially Chiang Mai. The products may be divided into 4 categories; furniture, household utensils, decorative objects and souvenir articles.
Where to buy : Big department stores and shopping plazas, woodcarving shops and centres in Chiang Mai and other northern provinces.