Whether you meant to or not, when you’re visiting Phuket you’re bound to find yourself spending more money in the shops than you’d planned. From cheap clothes to pearls and gold, you can get such a variety of standard and exotic items here, it’s hard not to get sucked into the trap!
There are lots of places to shop in Phuket, each offering its own unique vibe and items to buy. So much so, that you’ll see things in passing and not buy them, but later when you want to buy them you can’t remember where they’re sold!
Quite often the best way to think of where to buy special items is to first consider if Thai people would buy them, or whether they are reserved for the farang community. This way you can narrow down the places to look, and if you’re lucky find it first time!
Here’s a brief guide some of the shopping areas in Phuket.
The best bargains and strangest things can be found at the Thai markets, as they are not just reserved for fresh food and clothes. Tools, Buddha amulets, weapons, mobile accessories, mixed second hand items, traditional medicines are but a few of the things that you can find. The larger markets are always a safer bet if you’re looking for something unusual, but be prepared for a good search. Great atmosphere and the promise of good prices (remember to haggle!) can really make these expeditions worthwhile.
Thai Markets are everywhere, but some only open at certain times of in week. Naka Market is open on the weekends, and can be found opposite Naka Temple in between Chalong and Phuket Town. Chang Thalay market is a smaller version of Naka Market, and is only open on Wednesdays and Sundays. If in doubt ask a reliable Thai, and better still, take them with you to help with the bargaining!.
Are usually found within larger shopping malls, these markets are a great place to pick up souvenirs and the kind of cultural trinkets your family and friends might expect you to bring home for them. You can also find a great selection of t shirts, caps, bags and other “affordable” brand names gear..
Found at the main tourist areas in Phuket, and especially beaches. Try Karon Beach front or Bangla Road area in Patong
Whilst certainly not the same experience as found in the capital Bangkok, Phuket does have some very nice malls, which have a variety of products and generally have a much more relaxed ambience than the hectic and cramped markets. Don’t expect the cheapest prices though, as the malls mostly contain branded shops and restaurants that are not shy of high prices. If you lucky though, there may be a special sale on when you visit….
Just down from the end of Bangla Road, on of Phuket’s biggest shopping malls has a wide variety of products, and if you’re after souveniers, don’t forget to check the basement floor which is designed to satisfy any souvenir hunters whims. Because of the proximity of Bangla and Patong being the tourist capital of Phuket, the prices are can be more than a little higher.
Central Festival and Bypass Road
Central Festival on the outskirts of Phuket Town, is a great place to shop. Again the prices aren’t as cheap as the markets, but if you’re looking for quality items, then this is your best bet.
If you’re planning your day around being pampered and are willing to spend a little more, remember to do your homework first, to make sure that you don’t have a wasted trip and your day. Check the spa’s website out, check the prices and make sure they offer the services that you’re looking for. Also, do a Google search on the name of the spa and see if you can find reviews by previous visitors, this is going to be your best indication of what you’re really going to get!
Slap bang in the middle of Phuket Town is Robinsons, which is a popular choice with the towns people who want to do a little shopping. The prices here are average, but still more than the Thai markets, but you’ll find a good selection of brand names, mixed with cheaper items at good prices.
If you’re looking for clothes, there are a number of clothes markets in the area directly surrounding Robinsons, so ladies, this is a great place to explore!