Shopping in Phuket; your guide to the best centres and markets

By Rachel Jones

Phuket has some excellent malls for shoppers

A holiday to Phuket doesn’t only give visitors the chance to bathe in the sun on golden sandy beaches or dine in style before heading out to party; it is also one of the best places in Thailand for shopping. While it does not compete with Bangkok in terms of size, there are dozens of markets and shopping malls so the choice is enormous.

Phuket boasts everything from trendy designer malls to small local markets. There are open-air villages, bustling night bazaars, handicraft centres, jewellers, street stalls and independent retailers selling anything and everything.

Department stores here are well stocked with a wide range of western products. There are regular sales and because the malls are air conditioned, they are a good place to escape to when the heat gets too much. There are a number of department stores on Phuket, with the largest and busiest ones located in Patong.

Central Festival Phuket can be found just outside Phuket Town and is popular with tourists, expats and local Thais. This shopping mall is home to a range of clothes shops, shoe stores, chemists, jewellers, beauticians, hairdressers and restaurants as well as a branch of the ubiquitous Robinsons Department Store. Everything you could imagine can be found here and while the independent stores are worth exploring, it makes sense to start in the department store before making your way round.

Jungceylon is an enormous shopping centre in Patong housing every type of store you could imagine. It is located on Rat-U-Thit Road, Patong. It is impossible to miss and every taxi driver on Phuket knows where it is. There are many bargain stores located in the basement of the mall, and 200 other shops on the other floors, not to mention another Robinsons and a large Carrefour (supermarket).

Regardless of what you are looking for, you will find it at Jungceylon. There are the ubiquitous fake labels; however, there are genuine products for sale in the branded shops such as Levis and Ray-Ban. It is also a good place to pick up computer programmes and DVDs. More on where to shop for what in Phuket.

If you live in Phuket, a good place for household furniture is Index Living Mall. It targets those with money, offering chic furniture, decorative items and a range of household goods. It is located on the bypass road and is a must if you are looking to deck a house out.

There are two Ocean shopping centres in Patong. They are really department stores but have a range of smaller shops and stalls located in and around the building. One is located on Bangla Road and the other at the southern end of Patong Beach. Both are similar set ups but have slightly different items for sale outside.

Jungceylon mall is a nice distraction from the Beach

These malls are a good place for tourists to shop as they are located in the heart of the action and offer souvenirs and handicrafts alongside clothes, accessories, jewellery, electronic equipment, mobile phones and sporting equipment. There is a food court and a small supermarket in both.

When it comes to markets, Phuket has something for everyone. There are night bazaars, local markets, fruit and vegetable stalls, fresh food markets, souvenir markets, beachwear stalls and more. Markets are popular in Thailand because they are affordable for all.

Patong Beach, as you would expect, is home to the most street vendors, who sell their wares day and night. The beach road, Bangla Road and a number of smaller lanes which wind their way round the back of the main roads are home to the most street stalls. However, if you are going to shop here it is important to remember that bargaining is a must. Prices start high so never accept the first price. Ideally you are looking for the middle ground where both you and the seller are happy.

Phuket Town is home to a number of daily and weekly markets. However, these do not cater to tourists. They are worth a trip if you want an experience an authentic Thai market but if you are looking for souvenirs and gifts, stick to the main tourist hubs. There are small clusters of shops close by which sell a range of handicrafts, artwork, textiles and other traditional and handmade souvenirs. More info on markets in Phuket.

In every beach town there is at least one small market catering to locals. These small markets have fresh fruit and vegetables as well as local cooked and fresh food and a range of accessories. A walk round these is a chance to see the real Phuket.

The largest and best-stocked market on Phuket is Chatuchak weekend market. Taking its name from the famous market in Bangkok, this is without doubt the best place on the island to find cheap clothes, shoes and accessories. It is open day and night, although it gets busiest in the evening. It is a must-visit if you are on the look out for a bargain.

Another good suggestion is the numerous art vendors in South Patong. Some of it is kitchy but some is quite good and you can pick up original oil or watercolour paintings of typical Asian or Thai scenery for real bargains, they will roll it all up safely in a cardboard tube for taking home, and original anonymous paintings are one of the great shopping secrets of Asia.

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