Samui is good for little boutiques and small malls but lacks the smorgasbord of the Bangkok shopping experience. There are some interesting trinkets to be found however, and the real pleasure is a lazy stroll through any of the colourful night markets. Here are our favourite Koh Samui shopping experiences and districts.
1. Tailored suits
Chaweng is the best spot to be pestered incessantly by the touts offering bespoke suits made impossibly fast. While many of the shops are churning out identikit rags, there are some good tailors around. Tip: the good shops don’t employ touts.
Reading a book on a beach holiday is one of life’s top pleasures. If you’ve ploughed through the ones in your suitcase, grab something new from Bookazine in Chaweng or something pre-thumbed from Island Books in Lamai.
3. Chaweng Walking Street
If you keep losing your expensive sunglasses, swing by Chaweng for some five dollar fake Ray Bans and a fifty dollar Louis Vuitton bag to put them in. You may not want half the stuff on offer, but haggling can be fun nevertheless.
4. Lamai Sunday Market
Or, in fact any of the main beaches’ Walking Street markets. Once a week the road is closed to vehicles and a temporary hive of commercial activity pops up. These are great places to grab souvenirs and try any or all of the multitude of snack options for sale.
5. Central Festival
A middle-of-the-road shopping experience just off the middle of Chaweng’s busiest road. Good for local brands and air-con, there’s also plenty of places to eat or grab a coffee. Imported brands will be similar prices to back home but sale bargains can be found.
6. The Wharf
Bophut boasts this half-mall, half-marketplace hybrid which avoids the usual brands and instead focuses more on small boutique retailers. Expect beachwear, bags and small trinkets, plus some deliciously aromatic spa products to take home.
7. Chandra Boutique
This boutique features floaty island wear that’s stylish enough to wear back home – think Bali prints and wispy dresses in fabrics sourced from South East Asia. Chandra also stocks plenty of bags and accessories in its two Chaweng stores to complete the look.
8. Jim Thompson
If it can be made from silk, they have it. Men’s and women’s clothing is stylish with a nod to the traditional and there are some fine kaleidoscopic prints for the more daring. The wide range of accessories in the Central Festival store make it the perfect place to pick up gifts for those back home.
9. Zazen Boutique
Tucked inside the Zazen Boutique Resort and Spa, the small boutique is a treasure trove of Asian knick-knacks. Their gorgeous collection of Chinese tea sets, small Naga sculptures and antique rice bowls can be stuffed in your luggage or safely shipped overseas.
10. Bowtiful Samui
Bowtiful’s beautiful handmade jewellery is inspired by the hill tribes of northern Thailand. Expect lots of silver, stones, beads and gems, plus hippy-chic bags and other accessories in their Lamai shop. Some of the brightly coloured bags are actually made by the Hmong tribe in the northern Thai mountains.