One of the things Thailand is known for world-wide is Thai silk. Thai silk is known as being the best silk in the world. It’s famous for its bright colors, beautiful designs and gorgeous quality. The best place to buy Thai silk, of course, is in Thailand and Bangkok, the capital city, has some of the most wonderful Thai silk shops where you can find beautiful quality items at great prices.
Jim Thompson is THE place to buy Thai silk in Thailand. Jim Thompson was an American businessman who is credited with almost single-handedly reviving the dying Thai silk industry. In the 1950s he opened his own Thai silk company and paid weavers high salaries and company profits to weave silk. The Thai silk industry took off and it’s been huge ever since. Jim Thompson is also famous as he disappeared on a walk while on holiday in Malaysia in 1967 and his body was never found.
Jim Thompson has many shops in Bangkok, both stand alone shops and mall stores. It is the best place to buy Thai silk as the quality is impeccable and the designs simply gorgeous. At Jim Thompson, you can buy silk fabric, silk scarves, silk ties, silk bags, silk make-up bags, silk shirts, silk skirts, silk jackets, silk cushions and much more. Jim Thompson also has a wonderful selection of cotton t shirts, canvas bags, and you can also even buy upholstery fabric for furniture and cushions. If you buy at Jim Thompson, be prepared to pay the highest price. The quality is gorgeous but you will pay for it, so if you want a cheaper choice there are many other places that are much cheaper than Jim Thompson.
There are several Jim Thompson shops in Bangkok that have attached restaurants selling wonderful Thai food. Also, don’t forget to visit the Jim Thompson House. This is the actual traditional Thai house where Thompson lived and is now the second most popular tourist attraction in Bangkok. The main store is at 9 Surawong Road in Bangkok, and the Jim Thompson House is on Soi Kasemsan opposite the National Stadium sky train station.
Chatuchak Market (Jatujak Market)
Chatuchak Market has many excellent silk stalls and prices are good. Here you can buy a huge variety of Thai silk shawls and scarves, silk bags, silk shirts, silk pants, silk shoes, silk ties and more. You will also get a good price as bargaining is expected here and, if you buy more than one item, the price will come down even more. The grade of silk is lower grade at some of the stalls so inspect the merchandise carefully.
Chatuchak (otherwise known as J.J. by Thai locals) is in northern Bangkok next to the Mo Chit sky train station and is only open on Friday evenings, Saturdays and Sundays. If you do venture out to J.J., make sure you go relatively early in the morning (between 9am and 12pm) as in the afternoons the market is very hot and very crowded.
Anita Silk is another famous place in Bangkok to purchase Thai silk. Anita Silk weaves their own silk and creates beautiful silk products that are then sold in their stores. Anita Silk has seven stores in Bangkok, most of them at the top malls here, where you can buy silk sheets, silk photograph frames, silk cushions, clothing and home accessories. The quality of Anita Silk products is lovely but the style is very traditional so, if you’re looking for something slightly more modern in style, there are other places in Bangkok probably better.
The Anita Silk Siam Paragon shop is lovely and is located at the Siam Paragon mall (one of Asia’s largest shopping malls), right next to Siam sky train station.
There are hundreds of tailor shops in Bangkok and all of them have Thai silk fabric. If you want to get a custom-made Thai silk shirt, skirt, jacket or suit, then a tailor shop is the place to go. Here you will find hundreds of rolls of Thai silk fabric to choose from in all colors. The designs are bright and vibrant or subdued and elegant – something for everyone’s taste. Shop around and check out several tailor shops before you commit as prices do vary. Bargaining is expected though.
Once you order a Thai silk outfit, it should be ready for pick-up within 48 to 72 hours (some shops require two fittings to ensure a perfect fit, so this is where the 72 hours comes in). If you’re not sure which tailor to use, you can also check at your hotel as the staff will have recommendations on good tailor shops.
Don’t forget, Thai silk is beautiful quality, has stunning designs and makes a perfect gift not only for you but also for friends and family back home. In Bangkok , it’s still a fraction of the price of the West so is a worthwhile item to spend your money on.
Photo – From a Thai Tourist UK promotion, showing how inexpensive things are in Thailand. This one, the sign she’s holding is showing a Thai silk shawl for around $3