Top Ten Souvenir Finds In and Around Bangkok

Well, hullo longtimenosee. That was a totally unexpected blogging hiatus. Usually if there is nothing new posted here, it simply means I have nothing interesting to share. This time I was a little caught up in returning to work, running races, and zipping around to different things with the kids. Just ordinary life. Today, however, I return to tell you about my

Ten Favorite Places to Buy Thai Souvenirs

10. Honorable mention goes to the Doi Tung Lifestyle shop located at the Mae Fah Luang Foundation offices. This shop features handcrafts woven and crafted by people from villages in the Chiang Rai province, as well as pottery, coffee and macadamia nut products, housewares, and made-to-order apparel. I love this shop because it is part of a wonderful effort initiated by H.R.H. Princess Srinagarindra to create work opportunities for people where they previously did not exist. I dislike this shop, however, because I think it could use a lot more merchandise in varying prices. The nursery, however, is worth the trip. The flowering plants and orchids are absolutely beautiful and better quality than you will find most anywhere else.

Mae Fah Luang Foundation Head Office 1875/1 Rama IV Rd, Lumphini, Bangkok. Lifestyle shop open mon-fri. Nursery open 7 days a week. Located right as you exit the MRT at Lumphini Park.

9. Sara's Wand on the third floor of Terminal 21 is my go-to place for cute little soaps. Tiny and wrapped in cute paper, they smell wonderful and add a sweet scent to my care packages. I pick up thai-crafted soaps here and there, and these are my favorite so far.

8. Don't leave Terminal 21 yet, because across the way on the same floor is the delightful Thaniya shop, my favorite place to go for candles because they are made in Thailand from organic materials, and sold in keepsake blue and white pottery. Better yet, I noticed they started stocking candles that are poured into red clay containers made by hand on Koh Kret. But we shall get to that later..

Thaniya , Terminal 21, No. 3066, Suhkumvit, Bangkok

Not Koreena's shop, but if you see this from the escalator you are in the right spot!
7. Koreena silk and scarf shop is a frequent stop for me. Located in the Amarin shopping mall right next to the Erawan Shrine on Sukhumvit, it is so easy to get to when I need to pick up something quick. If you head to the third floor you will find a thai arts level, with shops specializing in the kitschy elephant-themed knickknacks and souvenirs that I do not purchase. But if you wander through here and locate Koreena I highly recommend their goods. Handbags and wraps made of shimmery silk at a great price and beautiful scarfs and pashminas abound. I spend a bit of time picking through her hand- and machine-embroidered scarves. The hand-embroidered ones are spectacular, but if you don't want to spend too much the machine-embroidered scarves are just as beautiful. I bought a hand-embroidered scarf as a gift, and then a machine-embroidered one to hang in our house. And the salesperson always throws a little freebie in the bag, either a cute shirt or a little coin purse. Nice.

6. Narai Phand is the "Royal Thai Government Handicrafts Center" and its  just a stone's throw from the Amarin. I can guarantee you will find something there, because it has absolutely everything. I would NOT buy a few things there, because they are marked up more than others, but the prices on the Bencharong pottery sets and bronze decor aren't too bad. Besides, it would take twice as long roaming through steamy Chatuchak Market to find such a big selection of items. You will also find the same wall hangings at Chatuchak, but here they are open for you to examine for quality and to ensure the pieces aren't flawed or stained.

Narai Phand is located on the ground floor of the President Tower, 973 Ploenchit Rd., Lumphini, Bangkok. Five minutes on the skywalk from BTS Chitlom.

5. Silk prints at the weekend market- the hawkers claim they are printed on thai silk, but I'm not so sure. But with those pretty designs do I really care? Most of the times I attack Chatuchak weekend market, this is one of my stops. I buy a bundle-they come to about a dollar a piece-and carry these lightweight goodies home to dole out bit by bit in future care packages. Matted and framed, they will be stunning.  I had a few set aside for myself, but ended up sending them all out to friends and family. So if you're heading that way anytime soon, let me know! If you enter at Gate 2 its on your right hand side before you get to Bangkok Bank.

4. Sampeng Lane in Chinatown is messy, confusing and crowded. Yet, I find myself there almost every other week searching for party supplies, fabric, or clothing. Its hit or miss, but most times a big hit. And on my way out I usually stop at this costume jewelry shop that sells souvenir pins-please forgive me because I can't remember the name or location, but if you are heading towards the China Mall end and you find a shop that is playing "Gangnum Style" over and over again, you've found it. They're bright, blingy and cheap but I love their pins. They come in the shape of the Royal Barge, or Hanuman's face for example, so I think they make a cute trinket for kids or grownups and I keep a box of them in my office to give away at any time.
3. The Amulet Market makes me feel like I'm in an Indiana Jones movie. Its comical at times, yet there's an element of danger. Its fun to pick up a few amulets from the sidewalk, where sellers just throw down a blanket and let you pick through their collections. The last time we brought home half a dozen (they're 20-40baht each, usually) and I looked up what they represented online. But before we left, we wandered towards the riverfront and down an alley and found ourselves walking on planks along the river, tiptoeing or squeezing through amulet shops and by dusty stores full of things that we probably shouldn't buy, such as ivory pieces and bronzes that looked like they were scavenged. We didn't dare buy anything, but it was an adventure on top of a shopping excursion.


2. Koh Kret. Its an island. Its an artist community. Its a tourist trap. But if you find a sign directing you off the walkway to a pottery village, follow it. By "pottery village" they mean a cluster of houses with one shop that molds and decorates the adorable clay containers you see up above at Thaniya. And they are so inexpensive you will want to buy more than you can carry. Which is a problem because you will have to lug it back to the ferry and then to your car. But its worth the sweat and effort to do so. We went a few weeks ago and I wish I bought more. The kids enjoyed watching the craftsmen at work at the pottery wheel, and one shop gave little P a lump of clay to take home and try for himself. (Oh boy.) I plan on going back very soon.

Koh Kret is reachable by driving or taking a taxi to Pak Kret, just 15 minutes from Bangkok. At the pier behind Wat Sanam Neua board the ferry. It costs just 2 baht to get to the island!
1. Mai Eak wood-carving stall is one of the few shops that will draw me back to Chatuchak Market. Reason number one: Khun Busaba and Khun Somsak are farang-friendly and won't overcharge you. Reason number two: stacks of wood carvings. Stacks. Want a dancer on a dragon? Want a dancer, no dragon? Want a dragon playing poker with an elephant? Well, maybe not, but they have a HUGE variety to choose from. I honestly bought most of our Christmas gifts here, and still go back from time to time to buy Buddha carvings.-there's one on my desk to be mailed right now.
Mai Eak is open at 8 am at Chatuchak Weekend Market, Section 11 Soi 12/7.