Koh Samui - Where to Shop
Who could imagine that on an island in the middle of the turquoise Gulf of Thailand, Samui has such a diverse array of shopping options. The line-up of chain stores such as Esprit and Lacoste blend in with crowds of silk, woodcarving, silver, brassware, gem & jewellery shops. Alternatively, ethnic souvenir stalls sporting coconut shells or bamboo products will remind you of your stay long after you have left the island. A speciality of southern Thailand is the enchanting, brightly coloured batik, on sale all over the place. Try one on and see if it suits.
There are Three Major Areas for Retail Kicks in Samui
Holiday shopping means new summer clothes and quirky souvenirs - and Samui's got them all. Chaweng is Samui's longest beach, and extends for five kilometres, making for wonderful walks, particularly at dawn or sunset. But the area also boasts the largest selection of shops, with beach accoutrements such as scuba diving equipment, bikinis, and sarongs. Counterfeit sunglasses are also ubiquitous; but remember to bargain because of the initial exaggerated prices. Boutique tailor shops are also out in force. For shopper who like their labels, Lyara Plaza (Tel: +66 (0) 77 673966), located in Bo Phut-Chaweng, offers a wide range of fashion brand name stores, and favourites include Lacoste, Nautica Sport, Nike, Adidas, Esprit, Bossini, Warner Bros. Studio Store, Camel Active Wear, AIIZ, Pena House, Items, Ungaro, Valentino Rudy, Santa Barbara, BNN, GEOX, Carven to golf shops like Ashworth and Titleist.
Near Lamai Beach sit two curious rock formations called Hinta and Hinyai, carved by the elements to resemble male and female phallic symbols, and are thus a popular tourist attraction. To reach these rocks, you will pass colourful stalls selling traditional Thai souvenirs - and not at tourist rip-off prices. Authentic batiks and patae skirts dazzle with the brilliant colours of Malay.influenced designs. Pretty hanging mobiles here are made from sea shells and yalarnae (possibly distorted from 'caramel') is a must-try. This brown pyramid-shaped sweet is made from flour and coconut sugar - you won't find better anywhere else in Thailand.
Nathon is the best place to have clothes custom-made to order by local dressmakers. Whether you bring along your own personal sketches, or have a clipped photograph of the latest Armani collection from the runway, a quality garment will be yours within few days. Imported linens, blended wools. and print cottons are popular fabrics, while lustrous Thai silk is hard to resist.
The major villages of Chaweng, Nathon, Lamai and Maenam all have central commercial districts. For daytime shopping most people head for Nathon, where a wide variety of shops are open all day. Chaweng Center's night market, located along Chaweng's main street and surrounded by many restaurants, stays open well into the evening.
Salted Eggs are the most famous product of Chaiya district. Phumriang Silk are hand-woven products of a Muslim village. The weavers here create their own patterns which are embossed on the silk-Japanese silk sold in Bangkok – by shuttle looms. The sweet tasting oysters from Surat Thani are of the highest quality. Rambutan, widely known as Ngo Rong Rian, is a famous fruit grown in Ban Na San District.