Crafts in Thailand: shopping tips

Thailand is known for the quality and variety of its craftsmanship but also for being one of the largest shopping centers in Asia.

To be convinced, all you have to do is walk around the various malls of the capital and its many markets by day, night, or weekend.

A refined and royal craft industry

handicrafts in ThailandIn 1976, Queen Sirikit found a way to develop new sources of income for rural Thais by offering them to update the kingdom’s handicrafts.

Thus was born the Promotion of Additional Activities and Affiliated Techniques, better known as SUPPORT.

Since then, the project has grown, and the craftsmen produce a large number of items sold in exclusive points of sale, the Chitralada Shops, the proceeds of which are intended to finance the permanent development of the project.

You can find the Chitralada Shops at Bangkok: at the decoration pavilion of the Grand Palace, at the Oriental Plaza shopping center, at the Hilton International Hotel, in the Vimanmek Mansion district, and at the International Airport.

Other Chitralada Shops: Rose Garden in Nakhon Pathom province, Pattaya, and Chiang Mai airport.

Among the items on offer are hand-woven silks, pashmina, the famous matte silks from northeastern Thailand dyed, woven yan liphao handbags, Thai cotton, decorative items, and many other souvenirs to take back to your loved ones.

Prices are higher than in the markets but very reasonable compared to the equivalent in Europe, and your purchase will turn into the right action.

Artisan crafts in Thailand: rattan and wicker

OsierThailand is renowned for its quality rattan and wicker furniture.

Artisans demonstrate an excellent level of work to create furniture in a wide range of shapes and styles.

If you want to bring an exotic touch to your interior, you can have the items shipped to your home.

Most merchants are used to doing this.

Nipped items

handicrafts in ThailandNiellage is a century-old practice in southern Thailand and results in the decoration of gold and silver objects.

The craftsman engraves delicate patterns that are then inlaid with a metal alloy.

Among the niellated items are mainly trays, boxes, and vases. They are sold all over Bangkok and of course, in the South, especially in Nakhon Si Thammarat province.

Copper and bronze

Copper and bronze made in Thailand have always been very successful because of their quality.

Today, artisans combine traditional methods and modern innovations.

Thus, the silicone coating prevents tarnishing.

As for patterns and styles, here too, we find tradition and modernity.

In addition to cutlery, bowls, and other tableware, it is possible to acquire sculptures of characters or animals.

Artisan crafts in Thailand: lacquer

It is found mainly in Chiang Mai and northern Thailand, where this form of craftsmanship is the specialty.

It consists of coating pieces of bamboo or wood with lacquer and then painting very complicated patterns by hand.

The objects are traditionally made in gold lacquer on a black background or in yellow and green lacquer on a brown-red background and are available in very refined bowls, boxes, and trays.

Artisan crafts in Thailand: money

Hammered silver is another form of traditional Chiang Mai craftsmanship, but of course, it is also found in Bangkok and the rest of the country.

It is mainly available in bowls, vases, boxes, and other decorative objects with raised motifs.

But it’s not just hammered silver.

Silver jewelry is omnipresent in Thailand.

Lovers of homemade jewelry can also buy money by weight in the famous Khao San Road.

Artisan crafts in Thailand: tin

Buddha in tin
Tin Buddha head

For amateurs, there are beautiful pewter objects with or without relief motifs (flanges, boxes, vases, cups, plates…).


An ancestral art dating back more than 700 years, ceramics is part of the history of Thailand.

We saw in L’art du Benjarong in Thailand that Chinese influence was decisive in the manufacture of tableware, but indigenous styles also contributed to constituting a precious heritage.

In traditional ceramics, in addition to Benjarong, there are Chinese blue and white celadons and porcelains.

But today’s craftsmen also produce ceramics with contemporary shapes, colors and patterns, available in tableware, vases, lamp legs, and huge, glazed pots for the garden.

Artisan crafts in Thailand: silk

Silk in Thailand
Silk shop

Since Jim Thompson brought it up to date, silk has been inseparable from Thailand.

It is infinitely available in terms of colors, patterns, and uses.

Sold by the meter, in ready-to-wear, ties, scarves, scarves, bags, spectacle cases, notebooks, jewelry cases, cushion covers, etc… the choice is vast, not to mention a thicker weave that allows it to be used in upholstery.

Silk Mat-Mee

This unique style of Thai silk is the product of traditional craftsmanship from Isan, the northeastern region of the country.

Silk is produced from silk yarns dyed by dyeing, hand-woven, and printed with patterns with complicated patterns.

This once little-known craft industry has been brought back to life thanks to Queen Sirikit’s rural development projects.

The favorite fabric of the Queen and the other members of the Royal Family, Mat-Mee silk, is in constant demand.

Cotton and batik

In addition to silk, there are a multitude of high-quality cotton articles.

As for clothes, I have an unbreakable short, bought in 2003, which hasn’t aged a day and follows me on every trip, not to mention my Jim Thompson T-shirts, the oldest of which dates back to 2000!!!

As for the batiks, they come from the northern tribes and are woven traditionally.

Their brightly colored designs are sometimes decorated with embroidery.

Gemstones and jewelry

I advise against them if you are not familiar with this art because it is very easy to be swindled and to buy a common piece of glass at a golden price.

Know that in the trade of precious stones, there is no good business, beauty, and the cheap do not go hand in hand.

For connoisseurs, Mae Sai, on the Burmese border north of Chiang Rai, has a precious stones market that attracts specialists.

Namely: Thailand is the second-largest jewelry exporter in the world.

Among the most common stones found are rubies, sapphires, and diamonds.

Artisan crafts in Thailand: gold

I have seen a few gold pieces of jewelry that meets European standards.

They are often titled at 24 carats and have a color that draws on ochre, which is not very pretty.

If you have seen beautiful 18-carat gold items in Thailand, note it in the comments below to share it with everyone 🙂 thank you very much…

Artisan crafts in Thailand: antiques

Here again, it is important to be careful because, in the end, good deals can be costly.

Some parts are prohibited for export, while others require an export permit.

Buy them in a store that is well established and whose owner knows the restrictions and documents to be provided.


Bangkok has many art galleries that present original works by local contemporary artists, but you can also find paintings with traditional motifs, painted on canvas, silk or wood.

Below, a small wooden painting with gold leaf application that I bought at the night market held in downtown Chiang Rai once a week (not to be confused with the night bazaar)

TableauIt is not big (30X21cm), the tableau buys in the night market, perfect for the suitcase, and I paid less than 15€.

Clothing and accessories

WeaverThere are them everywhere, at every price, for every taste.

This ranges from luxury shops to market stands and shopping centers.

Of course, there are many counterfeits (the famous Lacoste and Adidas polo shirts, not to mention the Vuitton bags and Rolex watches).

Avoid it, of course, unless you are willing to have your purchases confiscated for destruction and yourself liable to a fine of 3 times the price of the real one.

Good to know: if it is common to bargain, in shopping malls, the price is not discussed.

On the other hand, if you buy a branded item of clothing or accessory there, it will not be a counterfeit.

You are reassured and ready to warm up the credit card.

Video on handicrafts in Thailand

Source: Silk photos Matmee and painting: Sylvie Fumey: jane_lofthouse; Buddha in tin: Pixel1; others: Free photo CD

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button