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These make the best gifts, although they can be bulky to carry home. It’s best to shop at the OTOP outlets on the bypass road or Kata beach, or in Central Festival. There are also small handicraft stands in Tesco Lotus and Big C, plus stalls in Patong and Kata also have them. Better value on handicraft is had in Chiang Mai and Bangkok, but they are cheap enough nonetheless, charming and plentiful.
There are plenty of mobile phones everywhere but you should go to Big C (basement level) for the largest selection. Prices are good (new and used), the technology up-to-date, and if you buy credit you often get the SIM card free.
Counters in the department stores (Robinson and Central) sell a good range of international brand perfumes. Fakes can be bought in tourist areas and at stands in Tesco Lotus and Big C with the scent varying quite a bit from the original, depending where you buy.
These are abundant everywhere and Phuket is a good place to stock up. Optometrists Top Chareon, which has outlets all over the island, carry the real deal – Gucci, Ray Ban, Oakley and more – but at Western prices. Sometimes you’ll find a good sale, or you can always ask for a discount when buying more than one pair. Cheap knockoffs are available at stalls everywhere for around 100 baht and up, but beware that they may be more of a danger than a help when you’re spending lots of time in the sun. Make sure the lenses are UV-resistant.
Phuket is home to a large Western expatriate population and receives plenty of tourists, so shoe sizes are usually bigger than you’ll find in the rest of Thailand, with the exception of Bangkok. New, modern and excellent quality shoes can be found in Central Department Store (Central Festival) and in Jungceylon, Patong. Cheap, trendy shoes can be found at markets and roadside stalls near beaches and also the Premium Outlet complex on the bypass road, which has Nike and Adidas shops, at very reasonable prices.
There is a B2S sports store in Central Festival, with goods ranging from treadmills to dive gear, swimsuits, running and hiking shoes, camping gear, and workout bags. Central Department Store also offers a good choice of workout wear and shoes. For golf gear, try Premium Outlet, which has all the top golfing brands.
A few ‘surf’ shops are located in Kata Beach. It’s not the best place in the world to buy a surf board, though, and you are recommended to bring your own if you’re serious about surfing. Besides, there aren’t exactly huge breakers on the Andaman coast.
Cute bikinis and sarongs are sold all around the main beach areas in Phuket. If you’re looking for something with more quality, or for sizes up to XXL, try Central Festival or Jungceylon.
They are plentiful in Patong and Kata beaches and they can knock together a suit or dress for you in 24 hours. You can even bring a photo of something you like and they will replicate it.
Thais love spoiling their children and since many toys are manufactured here, or in China, they are remarkably cheap and the variety mind boggling. Robinson (Phuket Town) and Central (Central Festival) department stores have good sections for kids, as do Jungceylon and Premium Outlet. There are also plenty of cute clothes at good prices in the malls.
Fake watches can be found at Patong and Kata beaches, but you get what you pay for. The real thing is available at Central Festival, Jungceylon or Robinson. Don’t expect any bargains on the imports from Europe.