A visit to the island of Samui is never complete without a visit to at least one of their 5 great shopping venues. Each venue is a vibrant mix of food, branded and local items, handicrafts and of course entertainment places thrown in for good measure. Lazing and relaxing by the beach all day is fine, but sometimes it is good to take a walk and checkout some of the great items available in these shopping venues to see what they have on offer as they are not too far away from any hotel on the island.
Shopping in Chaweng
Chaweng shopping area is one of the longest in Samui. It is a whopping 6 kilometers of compartmentalized and organized shops all laid out along the beach. Wonder how many days it will take you to visit each and every one of these shops? As these shops open till midnight, expect them to only start for business around midday so you still have the rest of your morning to relax by the beach. The individual stall concept that is typical of Thailand is the same here; the streets are one-way and only large enough for bikes to go through but not cars as it is mostly a pedestrian walk. If you are looking for items like cheap T-shirts, watches, souvenirs then this is a good place to start. The front sections of the road called Beach Road, where the Chaweng Shopping is located is fairly modern but tapers to a bazaar like atmosphere a little further down for the rest of the way. You may not need to buy anything here but it is a good place for shopping if you are into bargains and haggling for items which is the norm here.
Walking along Chaweng shopping street, do mind the touts who are constantly approaching and pestering for your business; you can always politely decline their invitations to view their goods. It is common as competition among the vendors is very high, which also means you can get good bargains if you know how to haggle the price but be reasonable. There are some great tailors here who can fit a suit in less than 2 days or even 24 hours and of good quality too, but better have a few fittings till you are satisfied and bargain the price down, it can be quite ridiculous sometimes.
Located along Chaweng Shopping Street are the regular pharmacies such as Boots, which is located near Tropical Murphy’s and another located north of the street and Watsons, opticians, a few convenience stores such as 7-11, jewelry shops like Classic Gems (if you are on a last minute look for an instant engagement or wedding ring!), Sports and beachwear such as Hard Core Surf or Adidas and bookstores. One place to note if you are looking for high quality silk products is the Jim Thompson store, they sell anything from silk ties to well cut jackets and clothing. Thailand is known for its silk products and Jim Thompson was one of the founding fathers for the growing silk business in Thailand.
There are now many new additions to the Chaweng Shopping Street which includes new shopping centres with the benefit of a great cooling system to keep you out of the tropical heat for a few hours, these places offer the usual western branded shops and designer wears but the heart of the shopping is still the sidewalk stalls along the beach in Chaweng which incidentally is also a great place to take an evening or early night stroll among the shops and try hard not to spend that money in your wallet!