Known as the “shopper’s paradise” of South East Asia, Thailand is a place where you can buy practically everything, from Thai silks to savory and sweet Thai snacks and everything in between.
With malls, flea markets, and night bazaars existing everywhere, there comes a need for tourists (especially first-time visitors) to know what are the best things to buy in Thailand and where to get it.
And here are some suggestions to add to your shopping list during your pursuit of some retail therapy in the Land of Smiles.
What Is the Best Thing to Buy in Thailand?
1. Thai Silk
Thai Silk is famous for its beautiful patterns and smoothness. From Thai royal family members’ costumes to the famous purple uniforms worn by the crew members of Thai Airways, Thai silk is one of the symbols representing Thailand to the world.
And Thai silk can be seen on many things – clothes, scarfs, shawls, bags, wallets, pillow covers, table cloths, etc. Just decide what form of Thai silk you like the most and take it back home with you.
Thai silk can be bought in many places, but be aware of fake silks. A highly recommended place to get the best Thai silk would be the famous Jim Thompson shops located in many places across Thailand. The brand has a long, standing history dating back to the 1950s (1).
If you are interested in the history and world-renowned designs of Jim Thompson, you can visit the Jim Thompson House and Art Centre, which is located in the center of Bangkok – with entrance fees of 200 baht per adult (2).
2. Thai Spa Products
Many tourists enjoy relaxing in Thai spas and getting a foot or body massage when visiting Thailand. And while it is not possible to pack that in your suitcase, there is another way to enjoy your favorite Thai spa experience at home; buying Thai spa products.
Local-made spa products such as essential oils, candle and reed diffusers, carved soaps, herbal massage packs, foot soaks, and body scrubs can be found everywhere, both online and offline. Thai spa products also range from inexpensive local brands to luxury ones.
As for the recommendations on the brands and where to buy them, below is the list of 3 luxury Thai spa brands for those who want to indulge in luxury wellness products (3).
Starting from selling fragrance products at a home decoration shop in the famous Chatuchak weekend market (4), Karmakamet is well-known for its room perfume diffusers, pillow mists, and traditional style perfume sachets. If you want to bring a piece of Thailand back to your home (or office, or in the car), Karamakamet will be perfect for you (3).
Where to buy:
Central World, Fashion Island Mall, Metro Mall Sukhumvit MRT Station, Siam Square Soi 3, Siam Center, Central Festival Eastville, 101 True Digital Park, Silom Yada Building, Phrom Phong, Mega Bangna, Chatuchak Weekend Market.
Branded as a clean beauty and wellness brand, Pañpuri is inspired by the ancient traditions of Eastern natural remedies and utilizes the finest organic ingredients aimed at the betterment of mind, body, and soul (3). A wide range of products is available from Pañpuri under 4 categories – skincare, haircare, bath and body, and home (5).
Where to buy:
Gaysorn, Siam Paragon, Siam Discovery, Central Chidlom, Central Ladprao, Central World, Central Festival Phuket, Zen, The Emporium, Maya Chiangmai, Don Mueang International Airport, Krabi Airport, Samui International Airport, and King Power Duty-Free.
This brand was originally a part of hotel services offered by the Hotel Grand Mercure in Phuket, Patong. Due to the success and attention received, the products were eventually launched as their spa brand (3).
Currently, there are 5 collections offered by ryn; Bali Lush, Tropically Mae Ping, The Wanderlust Garden, Woodland Of The Versailles, and Madrid Mercado (6). Each collection provides a different range of products, including body oil, body lotion, body scrub, body wash, hand wash, and hand cream (6).
Where to buy:
Anantara Baan Rajprasong, Emquartier, Humming Lifestyle Salon, Coincidence GMM Grammy Place, Statement in Thonglor 11, Royal Gems Pavillion Phuket, and Hotel Grand Mercure Phuket.
Apart from these luxury brands, affordable local made carved soaps, Thai essential oils, and diffusers can be easily bought in various markets and shopping malls such as Platinum shopping mall, Chatuchak weekend market, MBK shopping mall Big C, with the prices starting from as low as 50 baht per product.
3. Trinkets and Carved Soaps
Perhaps the most obvious and yet best-selling souvenirs for tourists are handmade accessories and trinkets like keychains, fridge magnets, bookmarks, wooden pencils, etc.
Many of these trinkets are in the shape of or have some symbols of Thailand, be it a TukTuk or an animal, such as an elephant. These can be found everywhere in the country, and the price ranges are affordable.
Also, these trinkets are light and small, making them ideal for light travelers. And even though you might think an elephant-shaped keychain or a wooden pencil with the word ‘Thailand’ carved on it is very unoriginal for a souvenir, they are ideal for keepsakes as they can remind you of your trip to Thailand anytime, anywhere.
For those who want to buy something both visually pleasing and have great utility, carved soaps are right up your alley. These carved soaps come in different sizes and shapes – from colorful flowers to fruit shapes to even funny or explicit shapes. There are many options to choose from, and all of them have a lovely aromatic fragrance that makes them a good gift or keepsake for anyone (7).
Where to buy:
Chatuchak Weekend Market, JODD night market, Airport Souvenir Stores.
4. Thai Snacks
Thailand has many delicious and inexpensive snacks, both in sweet and savory categories. For people who love fruits, dried durian and mango snacks are a must-buy, while for savory snack fans, Thailand has the famous Tao Kae Noi seaweed snacks and pork floss to offer (7).
Dried Squid, Coconut Candy, and edible insects are perfect snacks for those who want to try something new and exotic from this tropical country (8). And if you want to recreate your favorite dish from your trip to Thailand, fear not!
You can buy ready-to-cook Thai curry packets and spices in supermarkets and the airport duty-free (7). However, make sure to check your local customs rules first, as you don’t want your goodies to be confiscated the moment you arrive home.
Where to buy:
Supermarkets like 7-Eleven, Big C, Gourmet Market, and Airport Duty-Free.
5. Health Care Products
Thailand is known for its oriental medicines and health care products as well. The most famous one would be Tiger Balm, which originates from China (9) but is widely used in Thailand for pain and headache relief, especially by the Muay Thai boxers (8).
These pain relief patches and balms can be found in convenience stores and drug stores across the country. So if you want to buy something that will help you relieve the muscle pains from walking all day during your trip, Tiger Balm is the one you should try.
Apart from Tiger Balm, another famous health and beauty care product in Thailand is coconut oil. Due to its many benefits, whether it’s for health or beauty, coconut oil products are also excellent souvenirs to continue your Thailand experience after your trip (8).
Where to buy:
Supermarkets and Drug Stores.
Now that you know the options for the best things to buy in Thailand, you can prepare your shopping list. However, while retail therapy works for stress relief, you should keep in mind that buying items such as elephant ivory and Buddha statues as decorative items can get you in trouble with the Thai airport officers (10).
Also, before buying anything, make sure that you check with your local customs rules to see if the items on our list can be brought back to your home country. And while you should feel free to shop to your heart’s content, remember to make space in your luggage. It would be a shame to leave anything behind.
1. Jim Thompson. Jim’s Legacy. Jim Thompson. [Online] [Cited: February 9, 2022.] https://www.jimthompson.com/.
2. Jim Thompson House. VISITOR INFORMATION. Jim Thompson House. [Online] [Cited: February 9, 2022.] http://www.jimthompsonhouse.com/visitor-information/.
3. Satrusayang, Prea. Discover Thailand’s Top 8 Luxury Spa Brands. Prestige. [Online] December 22, 2016. https://www.prestigeonline.com/th/beauty-wellness/discover-thailands-top-8-luxury-spa-brands/.
4. Karmakamet. History. Karmakamet. [Online] [Cited: February 9, 2022.] https://karmakamet.co.th/history/.
5. PAÑPURI. ALL PRODUCTS. PAÑPURI. [Online] [Cited: February 9, 2022.] https://www.panpuri.com/th-en/shop/all/.
6. ryn. Our Products. ryn. [Online] [Cited: February 9, 2022.] https://rynspaproducts.squarespace.com/products/.
7. Guide, The Koh Samui. The Best Things To Buy In Thailand. The Koh Samui Guide. [Online] November 4, 2021. https://www.thekohsamuiguide.com/best-things-to-buy-thailand/.
8. Holidify. What To Buy In Thailand – 18 Best Souvenirs To Get On Your Next Trip. Holidify. [Online] [Cited: February 9, 2022.] https://www.holidify.com/pages/what-to-buy-in-thailand-2447.html/.
9. Tiger Balm. THE TIGER BALM PHILOSOPHY. Tiger Balm. [Online] [Cited: February 9, 2022.] https://www.tigerbalm.com/us/about.
10. Royal Thai Embassy Singapore. Don’t Buy Ivory! Royal Thai Embassy Singapore. [Online] [Cited: February 9, 2022.] https://www.thaiembassy.sg/announcements/dont-buy-ivory/.