| Samui Scene
Natural Wonders | Places
to Go | Cooking
From market stalls piled high with fake watches and
sportswear to upmarket antique shops, Samui has something to satisfy most
shoppers. Bargain hard for market stall purchases - be friendly but unafraid to
walk away if you don't like the price. Most enclosed shops have fixed prices.
Antiques & Furniture
Be careful if you're here to buy genuine antiques. There is a thriving industry that produces top-quality reproductions. These objects can be beautiful and are good buys in their own right… provided they are sold at copy prices. Well worth checking out for high quality furniture is the recently opened Java Teak on Route 4169. Tel. 077 447 249.
For a comprehensive selection of new books and all the latest mags, go to Bookazine, opposite McDonald's in central Chaweng. Tel 077 413 616. There are also numerous second-hand bookshops around the island. By far the best is Nathon Books on the same road as the pier.
The discs at market stalls are obviously pirated, but the quality of CDs can nevertheless be pretty good. DVD's are a bit more hit and miss - a bad soundtrack can frequently render them unwatchable, so ask for a demo if possible. Older films tend to be of higher quality. Games and software should also be treated with caution. Expect to pay from 100-200 baht per disc.
Most of the world's gemstones are sent to Bangkok for cutting and setting, and the prices in Thailand can be considerably lower than elsewhere. Local gold and gemstone jewellery can be a bargain. But beware of unscrupulous dealers who prey on ill-informed customers - every year, the Tourism Authority of Thailand fields over 1,000 complaints about jewellery scams. It's best therefore to stick to established shops such as Classic Gems, Tel. 077 230479. For top-quality silverware, check out Farn Shop next to the Big Buddha Wat, Tel. 077 245 245.
Designer frames and contact lenses are excellent value on Samui. Professional eye examinations, contact lenses, Ray Bans, Oakleys and the latest ultra-thin Japanese lenses are available at Sawang Optical. Tel. 077 230 720, on Chaweng Beach Road.
Beautiful Optical in Chaweng, Tel. 077 230 052, and Nathon, Tel. 077 236 362 stocks a good range of frames, as does Top Charoen Optical at its various branches: Chaweng, next to Pizza Hut, Tel. 077 413 706, and also in front of Chaweng Cove Resortel; Nathon, Tel. 077 420 442; and Lamai next to Weekender Beach Resort. Market stall fakes give no UV protection, despite stickers to the contrary.
Sportswear and Surfware
Adidas gear is made under licence in Thailand and is considerably cheaper than in the West. Similarly, Nike and Reebok also have factories here making clothes and trainers mainly for export, so products crop up in sports shops and occasionally on market stalls. If you want guaranteed authenticity then stick to sports shops, although the copies widely available on market stalls are often pretty good quality. Real surfwear is available at Hardcore Surf in central Chaweng (next door to McDonald's). All the usual suspects such as Quicksilver, Roxy, Surfer Girl, Rip Curl, Oakley and Fresh Jive are for sale.
Life's a Beach specialises in the finest Australian bikinis. Brand names include Seafolly, Wahine, Wet Wet Wet, and Bodypaint. Sizes vary from 6 through to 18 and many are reversible. Bags are by Condura, Australia. (Opposite Central Samui Beach Resort between Osteria restaurant and the Rock Pub. 11am - 11pm).
Samui offers a great deal of choice when it comes
to bespoke clothing. Try to leave enough time for at least two fittings. It's
always worth negotiating on price if you want several items, and don't be afraid
to ask for alterations if dissatisfied. The following can be recommended:
Thailand's famous silk remains a perennial take-home favourite. Samui's tailors and fabric shops can provide a wide variety of different colours, designs and quality. It's much cheaper than in the West, but don't be tempted by incredible bargains, especially at market stalls - even if the label does claim 100% silk.
Woodcarvings and Ceramics
Carvings and ceramics are widely available at market stalls in Samui. Much of it originates in the craft centres of Chiang Mai, and although the standard of workmanship is variable, it can be high quality. For coconut-wood carvings unique to Samui, check out the stalls at Hin-Ta and Hin-Yai (see Samui's Natural Wonders).
well as offering a wide range of continually upgraded stock, Java teak also
offers an extensive catalogue of furniture that is available to order direct
from their supplier, and Khun Lek can even arrange for furniture to made to
customers own designs. She personally ensures that all her customers enjoy
both a knowledgeable and helpful service, and the shop even has a range of
coffee table books on display, featuring teak furniture in the home to help
people see how their pieces will look once installed. Customers include Thai
homeowners, foreign residents building a new home and visitors that have the
pieces shipped back to their home country. Transport and delivery is part of
the service, and Lek works with a number of reliable and inexpensive
shipping agencies. Anyone with a room or house to furnish will benefit from
a visit to the Java Teak showroom.
Visitors may claim a VAT
refund at Bangkok International Airport on purchases totaling