What to Buy
Thai Jewelry:Thailand is a major exporter of gems and jewelry and Bangkok has become one of the major global centers for cutting and setting gemstones. Consequently, those in the know should have an excellent opportunity for purchasing high quality gemstones and jewelry. Most of Thailand’s gold shops are found in Chinese districts, the largest being Yaowarat in Bangkok. Thai gold is very yellow, owing to its high level of purity, and Thai gold jewelry is quite inexpensive as the labor costs are quite low. Larger department stores and reputable jewelry shops are certainly the safest places to buy Thai jewelry so be advised: if shopping at smaller shops or on the recommendation of a new “friend” or tuk-tuk driver, there are plenty of con-artists working the Thai jewelry and gem business. Thai Gems:Thailand is a major exporter of gems and Bangkok has consequently become one of the major global centers for cutting and setting gemstones. Those with knowledge about Thai gems or who follow proper precautions should have excellent opportunities for purchasing high quality gemstones. Thai gems that you are likely to get good deals on are sapphires, rubies, and jade, though individuals with little experience appraising the quality and cut of gems should beware. To be safe you should only buy Thai gems from well-reputed dealers who are registered with the Jewel Fest Club or the Thai Gem and Jewellery Traders Association (TGJTA). Furthermore, you can bring your Thai gems to the Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences to have them authenticated and graded.Gold:Thai gold jewelry and ornaments are reasonably priced in Thailand particularly because Thai labor costs are quite low. Thai gold is typically bought and sold in Bangkok’s Yaowarat (Chinatown), where dozens of gold shops line the main boulevard. Prices are based on "Baht" weight (one baht weighing approximately .53 troy ounces) and the quality of workmanship necessary to craft the piece. Thai gold chains, earrings, bracelets, pendants, and other delicate hand-crafted items sell for reasonable rates even at the most upscale outlets, which are fine places to purchase such goods as they come with guarantees of authenticity.Silverware:Silverware making in Thailand dates back centuries and is world renowned for its high quality craftsmanship. Thai silverware, including ornaments, is typically sterling silver (92.5% pure) as regulated by the Thai government to satisfy international clientele. Silverware is most commonly found in Bangkok and Chiang Mai.Thai Clothing:Thailand is a major international center for garment manufacturing, including many international brands. Consequently purchasing quality clothing, particularly Thai brands, is much more affordable than buying similar products in other countries. While jeans and t-shirts are products that are easy to find and inexpensive to purchase, so too are fashionable Thai clothing lines. Unique t-shirts are often for sale at local night markets, traditional Thai clothing is available in the Northern provinces, and Thai and international brands are available in major department stores and shopping malls in the major tourist destinations.Tailor made clothes:Getting tailor made clothes is very easy in Thailand as there are numerous tailors in nearly every tourist destination down to the smallest and most remote beaches. While visiting a Thailand tailor can be a great opportunity to have some properly fitted clothes made, even those that mimic your favorite international designer clothing, buyers should beware. There are numerous issues to worry about when selecting a tailor, many of whom are unscrupulous bargainers, offering lesser quality material as “the best” and assuring you that a three piece suit can be made in a day. Even if you have adequate time, some of the most well known tailors commonly use slip-shod construction techniques whereby suits become unglued after several months of use. There are some decent tailors in Thailand, though they are few and far between. While prices can be quite cheap, just remember that you are likely to get what you paid for. Shop around, inspect the stitching and material of clothing they are currently working on, and make sure you have adequate time for numerous fittings.Thai Leather Goods:Shoes, jackets, belts, handbags, wallets, and luggage made of Thai leather are commonly found and are very reasonably priced. The quality of workmanship is quite high and it’s easy to get custom-made orders filled. In fact, many brand name leather products at shopping malls in Thailand are made in Thailand, exported abroad, and then imported for resale. If you are savvy, you can get the same quality Thai leather goods at a better price if you cut out the middle man.