I’m not a big shopper and have already written about why Thailand is a great place to live with less, but there are a few things I’ve bought here in Thailand that I really love and will take with us whenever we leave.
Though Thailand is a major tourist destination, there aren’t many souvenirs for sale worth taking home. Many of the best things I’ve bought are souvenirs that I hope other foreigners will discover. Now on to the list!
1 Floating market painting
I bought this painting not long after I moved to Thailand. A colleague took me to Chatuchak Market, where I bought this painting for around 1,000 baht ($33). I hadn’t yet been to a floating market, but I’m glad I bought this painting as I haven’t seen a painting like this since then. Thailand’s floating markets used to exist only as markets, but when roads were built, many disappeared or turned into tourist destinations. You can read about Thailand’s floating markets here.
2 Jim Thompson: The Thai Silk Sketchbook
I bought this book when I visited the Jim Thompson House with my parents. Jim Thompson was an American who is credited with saving the Thai silk industry after founding the Thai Silk Company in 1950. The house is actually a collection of pieces of Thai houses in disrepair from Bangkok and Ayutthaya. It’s a beautiful house and a beautiful book. You can read more about Jim Thompson here.
3 Nancy Chandler maps
Nancy Chandler, another American, moved to Thailand in 1969 when her husband accepted a job at a Thai law firm. She published her first Bangkok map in 1974, back when paper maps of Bangkok in English must have been invaluable for expats and tourists. I used Nancy’s map a lot when I first arrived and have also bought her greeting cards. Nancy passed away in 2015 and her company has closed. You can read more about Nancy here.
4 Doi Tung notebooks
Doi Tung is a mountain in Chiang Rai (nothern Thailand) and also a social enterprise project started by the late king’s mother to reforest the area and to provide job opportunities. When I first came to Thailand, I bought quite a few notebooks, which they no longer sell. I visited the Mae Fah Luang Garden at Doi Tung several years ago and still believe it is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been in all of Thailand.
5 Cotton ball string lights
These lights are available everywhere. I got mine at Chatuchak Market, where they have all different colors and patterns, for 100 baht. If you buy them anywhere outside Chatuchak Market, like on Sukhumvit, you’ll pay a little bit more.
6 Cushion covers
Speaking of Chatuchak Market, I got my cushion covers from there as well. They might look a little bit grandma, but I was happy to find cushion covers handmade in Thailand by a small shop at the market.
There’s no need for scarves in Bangkok, but Worchihan and I definitely need them when we go back to his village for Christmas. This is another Chatuchak Market find for around 150 baht ($5). I would love to buy more of these as gifts for Worchihan’s family, but only saw them once. Lesson learned.
8 Woven tray
I love all things woven. Whenever I see woven items displayed on the sidewalk, I almost run, partly because I don’t see them very often. I found this tray a couple of years ago when I was heading for the train after work and I think I paid 120 baht ($4) for it.
9 Caliiico postcards
Several years into living here, I FINALLY found some cute Thailand postcards by Caliiico. I’ve sent some to friends and have bought some to frame in a future house. I bought these postcards (there are others) at Room Concept Store for 35 baht ($1.20) each.
10 Playworks tote bag
I was pretty excited to discover Playworks when I was looking for more worthwhile souvenirs. Playworks is a shop based in Chiang Mai (nothern Thailand) that makes bags, art, postcards, stickers, etc. This Chinatown bag is my favorite of all their products and hangs on the back of our door, holding our masks. This bag was 180 baht ($6).
I picked up this bag–which is lined with material made from recycled water bottles–at a mall for 120 baht ($4). The material on the outside is from Issan, or northeast Thailand, and I love it. I think I have a thing for textiles (and bags).
12 JanFive postcard
I came across JanFive Studio on Instagram. I love Ming pottery and I was happy to find a Thai artist painting it. This postcard was 85 baht ($3).
What do you have that you bought in Thailand that you love? Let me know in the comments.