An overview of Phuket Shopping
Shopping in Phuket plays a good part of a great holiday. It’s often more about entertainment and fun than real necessity and most of the time you don’t even buy anything. Phuket has a lot to offer to everyone and shopping in Phuket is often associated with food. You will mostly notice this in night markets and shopping malls. It’s also a great way to escape the rain or even the heat as malls and bazaars often come with air conditioning.
A few words about bargaining if this is our first trip to Thailand. It’s not black and white but usually you don’t bargain in convenience stores. You don’t bargain in shopping malls except at the souvenir and electronic stalls. You’ll recognize instantly which are part of the mall or department store and which are rented to locals. In night markets and street stalls you must absolutely bargain as they will always start with a high price and expect you to counter offer by 30 to 50%. Don’t be shy.
Night markets and weekend markets are travellers’ favourite way of shopping. They are fun, colorful and very unique. There are quite a few in Phuket but 3 of the night markets in Phuket town are very popular: Chillva Market, Sunday Walking Street and Phuket Weekend Market. Night markets are usually more local than bazaars or street stalls, very creative, often run by young people and even locals like to shop in there. Tuk Tuks and taxis will take you there and back very easily if you don’t have a bike. If you drive a car, just remember that parking near night markets can be challenging. Read more
2. Street Stalls
In any town of Phuket you’ll see people selling stuff on the street side. It can be in a small stall or it can even be right on the floor. The list of what’s on sale in the street could be once again summarized as ‘Same Same but Different’. Lots of T-shirts, lamps, shoes, bags and souvenirs you don’t need. Usually the closer you are from city center and busy streets, the higher the price will be. So bargain hard if you are in a busy street, but take it easy if you are in a more quiet street where prices are usually is lower. Remember that small shops live on daily sales so if the vendor is nice and friendly, it’s ok to pay a little more.
Bazaars are a little different from night markets. They are open all day and everyday, usually permanent, and under a roof. They sell Tee-shirts, jeans, bags and shoes again. If you walk in a bazaar you will soon notice that vendors are not Thai, very easy to notice that from the way they address to you. If you see something you like, bargain hard… very hard. Read more
Shopping mall obviously sell better quality products at higher prices. However you will find different products at different floors. Dedicated brand shops and department stores sell real brands at higher prices. Sometimes it’s not even cheaper than overseas but you might spot something you won’t find at home. Now every mall in Thailand have a ‘local floor’ where you can find cheaper local stuff, clothing and souvenirs. You will also find electronics counters selling mobile cases and hundreds accessories. Once you are in these areas you will know, just remember to bargain! The 2 main malls in Phuket are Jungceylon in Patong and Central Festival in Phuket Town. Read more
Fresh markets are window on real Thai daily life. Even if you don’t cook, the displays of fruits, fish and vegetables can be surprisingly interesting. The spices and condiments areas are fascinating as most products are unknown to travellers. You can skip the meat corner if you are a little sensitive, and walk to the accessories and fashion section, always fun to look at what’s on sale, even if you are not planning to buy anything. Everything is cheap and you can bargain on top. Fresh markets often have an area when you can buy local snacks and even sit at tables. It’s a lots of fun, don’t miss this chance! There are many fresh markets around the island but some are better known and some are easier to find. If you stay in Patong, Banzaan is a great place to start, located just behind Jungceylon mall. Read more
There is only one outlet store in Phuket called Premium Outlet Phuket, located on the by-pass road, near Phuket town. It’s huge, like a village and it does have an attractive design but overall readers found that very little was on sell and not worth traveling all the way to it. Read more
Convenience store fulfill exactly their mission: The sell everything you might need on daily basis, including food, whether you are travelling or living here. Nothing new here, there are convenience stores in every country of the world. But there are few fun facts about convenience stores:
- There is an incredible density of convenience stores in Phuket! You can have 2 Seven-Eleven almost next to each other, plus a Family Mart across the street. It looks like a Family Mart executive said: “I want to see a Family Mart for every 7-11 in Phuket!”
- They are expensive, you do pay a little for the convenience.
- Not all convenience stores are born equal and there is a clear price difference between brands. The cheapest of all? We did our home work and you can see the winner here.
A page about shopping in Phuket wouldn’t be complete without few words about tailors. There are hundreds tailors on the island… maybe thousands. You can’t miss them because they will they won’t miss you. All try to convince you to walk into their shop using all kinds of fun tactics, like guessing what country you are from and saying few funny words in your language, often with the right accent. They all have great offers, like 2 pants + 2 shirts + 1 tie for a great price… and promise a 24 hours delivery. Usually 24 hours isn’t really a good idea unless you are really in a rush. It’s a lot better to measure at order and come the next day for a fitting.
It is almost impossible to tell the best and from what we heard it’s often a lucky draw. In many cases people don’t have a clear idea of what they want and fashion is so subjective; it is difficult to please everyone. In addition, Tripadvisor is full of tailors reviews but look closely: they often look too good to be true. Here is a list of 6 tailors that seems to be above average.
More to come soon about Duty Free Shops