It is fair to say that Koh Shamui is not particularly well known for being a first class shopping destination. However, we can let you into a little secret…
Koh Samui is an absolute shopper’s paradise with bargains to be had just about everywhere on the island. No matter if you are looking for authentic handmade Thai souvenirs, the latest in designer fashion and big name brands or just a pair of cheap imitation sunglasses, Koh Samui has it all!
The islands main shopping areas are situated in the tourist hotspots of Chaweng, Lamai and also in Nathon. However, there are also still many shops, markets and malls that are well worth visiting throughout Samui.
It is in Nathon where you can expect to find some of the islands least expensive shopping opportunities and is probably the place where you can expect to pick up the best deals. Chaweng is the area on Koh Samui that probably has the most choice in terms of shopping outlets, with everything from a thriving night market to supermarkets, international designer stores and just about everything in between. Lamai Beach offers retail junkies something different again, as it is here where you will find a fabulous selection of quirky boutiques and small independent shops.
Most of Chaweng’s shopping outlets can be located along the main beach road, which stretches for approximately six kilometres. It would probably take you a good couple of days to thoroughly exhaust all of the different shopping opportunities that can be found in Chaweng. With its wide range of different shops Chaweng has everything from large supermarkets to street vendors, as well as famous international big brand stores.
One particular selection of stores that is well worth checking out happens to be attached to the complex of the Centara Grand Beach Resort, which is located in Chaweng South. It is here where you will find a branch of the world famous Jim Thompson Store, which specialises in selling high quality clothing and other products made from the finest Thai silk. Other stores that are contained in this complex include Ocean’s Beach, which sells a fabulous range of imported beachwear, and BSP Leather which is the place to go if you are looking for high quality luggage.
Situated just opposite the Centara Beach Resort you will find will find Life’s a Beach which sells a great range premium brand Australian swimwear. Located a few doors down from Life’s a Beach is Classic Gems who are certified and reliable jewellery specialists that sell high quality gemstones from their very own gem factory. If you move further along the strip you will eventually come to OTOP Place which sells original Thai handcrafts and was setup as part of a government initiative to help promote small local enterprises.
At the northern end of the south strip there is the i-Store which is the place to go for MP3 players, accessories and other electronic goods, as well as a number of other boutique style shops and independent stores.
Heading into the central part of Chaweng beach, it is here where you will find the majority of international stores and famous retail outlets. Located close to McDonald’s and the Irish pub, known as Tropical Murphy’s, you can find a selection of stores from some of the world’s leading names in fashion, including, Adidas, Levis, Timberland and Giordano. You will also find a branch of Boots pharmacy in this shopping hub too.
Also located in this area is Genevieve, which is another store that stocks imported beachwear. There is also Chandra, which is one of the most popular shops in the area with its selection of exotic, funky and unusual fashion from all over South East Asia, including some exclusive designs from Indonesia, perfect for the Samui’s tropical climate and for looking great around town!
Central Chaweng is also home to a selection of small wooden booth style shops and stalls, which stock a wide range of locally made jewellery, ornaments and other handicrafts, such as purses, handbags and sequined shoes. These small shops can be a great place to pick up a souvenir or two.
The Samui Hot Club perhaps offers one of the best shopping opportunities in all of Chaweng. Here you will be truly spoilt for choice with over 3 floors of high quality textiles, such as colourful and trendy beachwear, sarongs, fishermen trousers and trendy children’s clothing. You could easily spend a couple of hours exploring the shop and looking at all the things that are on sale here.
Just when you thought that Chaweng already had its fair share of bikini and beachwear stores, one of the first shops you will come to at the northern end of the main shopping strip in Chaweng is Blue Glue, which, as you guessed, sells a wide range of bikinis and other beachwear that has mainly been imported from Bali.
Northern Chaweng is the location of two of the islands most prominent shopping plazas, which are perfect for escaping from the heat and indulging in a bit of air conditioned shopping for international brands and goods, many of which will be somewhat cheaper than what you can expect to pay back home.
The Khun Chawneg Shopping Centre is one of the newest plazas to open in Chaweng and features a pretty good selection of stores stocking a wide variety of goods from many well known, international brands, such as Guy Laroche, Lee, Saville Row, Alain Dixon, Century 22 and Ferand.
Located a little further north of Coco’s Blues Bar is where you will find the second of Chaweng’s modern shopping plazas. This outdoor shopping area is actually attached to the popular Iyara Beach Resort and sells a large selection of well known fashion brands for men, women and children. This trendy and modern shopping plaza is home to a number of stores from such names as Puma, Adidas, Nike, Ungaro, Nautica, Pierre Cardin, Speedo, Triumph, Von Dutch and Thai silk specialists Jah Chang.
Many of the shops in Chaweng and throughout Koh Samui will normally open around mid day but stay open , sometimes as late as midnight, so you will have plenty of chance to get indulge in a spot of retail therapy.
Away from Chaweng’s main strip and shopping areas, there are a number of large supermarkets which are the places you will want to head to in order to stock up on food and groceries. Located on the outskirts of the town, just off the islands main ring road you will find stores of Big C, Tesco Lotus and Makro supermarkets.
The Big C supermarket that can be found on Koh Samui is also part of another larger shopping mall, which contains a host of other stores selling things such as gold jewellery, mobile phones, fashion accessories, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and children’s toys, as well as the central supermarket, which sells food and everyday groceries.
There is also large number of restaurants and other eateries that make up the shopping complex, all of which provide a good place to stop if you want a bite to eat or sit down and have a drink. There are also a number of banks which you can use to exchange foreign money. If you happen to drive to the Big C in Chaweng then watch out for complex’s strangely designed car park, you have been warned!
Open: 9am to 12am
Where: Located on the main ring road, heading out of Chaweng towards Bo Phut
Telephone: +66 (0)77 960 711
Like the Big C shopping complex, Tesco Lotus in Chaweng is also home to other shops, retail outlets and restaurants, in particular a branch of Home Pro, the home improvement and DIY store. The complex even has its own bowling alley and a cinema that shows movies in both Thai and English.
Within the main shopping complex itself, you will find a large Tesco Lotus supermarket, as well as a number of other stores, boutiques and banks. A number of restaurants and fast food outlets can also be found here including KFC, Black Canyon Coffee and a branch of MK Restaurant. There is also a children’s play area on the site too.
Open: 8am to 12am
Where: Located on the main ring road, heading out of Chaweng towards Bo Phut
Telephone: +66 (0)77 245 400
There have been an increasing number of branches of Makro popping up all over Thailand in recent years and Koh Samui is no exception. You will probably need to sign up for a membership card to be able to shop there but providing you do, you will be able to choose from the full range of products on offer at this popular high volume, low price, cash and carry.
Makro in Chaweng sell a wide range of food and non food products and can be a good place to pick up foreign food and other groceries. Many of the islands restaurants, bars and hotels use Makro for food products that they are unable to purchase from other local supermarkets or fresh markets.
Open: 8am to 10pm
Where: Located on the main ring road, heading out of Chaweng towards Bo Phut
Even though Tops is much smaller than the branches of Big C, Tesco Lotus and Makro, it is still well stocked, reasonably priced and a good place to pick up small groceries such as snacks, fresh fruit and vegetables and drinks.
Located not far from the main road in central Chaweng, Tops is also surrounded by a variety of restaurants and bars that could be worth visiting after you have finished your grocery shopping.
Open: 9am to 9pm
Where: Central Chaweng
Telephone: +66 (0) 77 231 186
As well as regular supermarkets and grocery stores, Chaweng is also home to the best wine outlet on Koh Samui. Wine Connection has a great range of local and international wines from a wide variety of different labels.
Wine is normally very expensive in Thailand due to the large taxes that are placed on it but despite this, Wine Connection really does well at trying to keep the prices of their products as reasonable as possible.
Open: 10:30am to 9:30pm
Where: Located on the main ring road, heading out of Chaweng towards Bo Phut
Telephone: +66 (0)77 246 071
Whilst Lamai is not as big as Chaweng and does not have as many shopping outlets, it still has more than its fair share of individual shops and boutiques, as well as its very own shopping plaza. Like Chaweng, most of Lamai’s shops are located on or close to the main beach road, which is where you will find the best array of tourist souvenirs and goods that are for sale in this part of Koh Samui.
If you are looking for traditional handicrafts, beachwear, fashion clothing, DVD’s, electrical goods and more, then all of these can be found along the beach road in Lamai.
People often find shopping in Lamai a little more relaxed and laid back than in Chaweng and it is certainly cheaper, especially when buying souvenirs in the tourist shops, many of which allow you to barter for goods.
There are also some offbeat stores that tend to sell jewellery and other crafts, some of which will even produce your own individual designs for you.
If you are looking for a trendy, yet unusual fashion store in Lamai then head over to Siddartha. Here you will find an array of Indian/hippy inspired garments for both men and women. The shop itself is located in the small village of Hua Thanon.
Some of the shops that can be found on the or near to the main beach road in Lamai include Mr Samui’s, Dream Catcher and Exotica Boutique.
Mr Samui’s is very much an Aladdin’s cave of all manner of jewellery and other trinkets such as bracelets, necklaces, anklets and earrings that are made from just about every metal or precious stone you could possibly imagine. Once you have finished looking through the 1000’s of items that are for sale in Mr Samui’s there is an area in the shop for you to relax, chill out and even order some food.
Located on the main road towards Hin Ta and Hin Yai is the Exotica Boutique, which you should certainly check out, particularly if you are looking to purchase some high quality, unique souvenirs during your stay on the island. The boutique is run by Sumetta Sangouthai who hand makes much of the jewellery and other items that are for sale in the show. The boutique also sells amazing limited edition photos from the much celebrated, Samui photographer, Claudio Cerquitti.
Dream Catcher is another of Lamai’s popular fancy boutique and handicraft stores. If you are looking for a truly stunning piece of handmade jewellery then this is the place to go. The owner, Pin makes each item that is for sale in the shop himself and he can also transform your own unique designs into an incredible piece of bespoke jewellery. Dream Catcher sells a wide range of silver jewellery that is complete with beautiful amber and turquoise gem stones.
Aside from fancy boutiques and jewellery stores there are a selection of other shops that can be found in Lamai, one of which is Island Books which is certainly one, if not the best second hand book shop on all of Koh Samui.
The owner, Paul, has put a lot of hard work into running the book shop and is conscientious with regards to the quality of the books that he sell in his shop. Even though the books here are second hand, you can be sure that any books purchased from Paul won’t fall apart after you have read the first couple of chapters. The bookshop sells books in a number of different languages, most notably in English, German and French.
No matter if you want to rent or purchase a book Island Books is the place to head to in order to stock up on some essential reading for the beach!
Another popular store in Lamai is Asian Lights, which is situated on the main street running through Lamai, not too far from the night bazaar. This great little shop sells an array of handmade lights and lamps, all of which are very innovative in their design and shape. Many of the lights are made from a wide range of different materials including cotton, silk, wood and bamboo. The shop is open from 2pm to 11pm every day of the week and sells a variety of contemporary and traditional designs that could be used as a really unusual souvenir. All the lights are reasonably priced so make sure you visit this store the next time you head into Lamai.
Buddy Boutique Hotel Shopping Plaza – Lamai
If you are looking for a bit of upmarket shopping dring your visit to Lamai then be sure to head over to the shopping plaza that is located next Buddy Boutique Hotel, which is on the main ring road heading towards Chaweng.
The shopping plaza is jam packed with posh boutiques and shops, selling silk, traditional Thai antiques, shoes, clothes and jewellery. Some of the places inside the plaza certainly aren’t cheap and you probably will not find all that much in the way of bargains, especially when you compare them to the night markets and other boutiques that are in the area. However, if you are tired of walking around the markets or high street stalls and want a bit more of a comfortable setting, complete with air conditioned boutiques, then the Buddy Boutique Shopping Plaza is the place for you.
There are also a number of places within the plaza where you can buy snacks, pizzas and refreshments.
The town of Nathon is Koh Samui’s central administrative centre and is the place where the majority of locals go in order to do some serious shopping and grab a bargain or two. The two main roads that provide access in and out of Nathon are lined with a huge array of different shops and stalls selling a wide variety of goods from authentic Thai silk, copied designer clothing (some of which is actually quite good!) and handmade souvenirs.
Although it is without question that both Chaweng and Lamai have more choice when it comes to shopping, you will still be able to find most things in Nathon. The town itself is home to a number of really good souvenir shops that can provide the perfect place to provide something a little bit different or quirky in the way of a souvenir to take back home.
About Arts and Crafts is one such shop where you can find something a little bit different to take home as a perfect reminder of your stay on Koh Samui. The shop sells some of the finest ceramic kitchenware that can be found on the island, if not in all of Thailand. All of the kitchenware which is sold in the shop, such as plates, mugs, tea cups and bowls, have all been carefully hand painted, making each item unique.
About Arts and Crafts is run by two Thai artists with many of their creations being on show in the shop. As well as kitchenware they also sell a multitude of carvings, watercolours and also have their own range of jewellery on sale too. Open from 10am every, About Arts and Crafts is located on Chonwithee Road.
Another arty type shop that can be found in Nathon is Beach Gallery Antiques which has a really unusual (almost strange!) collection of art for sale that you will certainly not find anywhere else on the island. At first site it might seem that there is nothing but tat and other tacky pieces on sale here but if you are prepared to look carefully, in amongst the more stranger pieces, there are some truly beautiful antiques, all of which are very reasonably priced.
The shop is worth visiting even if it is just to look at some of the stranger items that are for sale. Open from 10am daily, Beach Gallery Antiques is located on Na Amphoe Road
Nathon Books is somewhat of an institution on Koh Samui and has acted as a god send to many travellers or backpackers who are looking to buy a book before they embark on a long ferry journey from the island. The shop has a massive range of books from a wide variety of genres at all different prices. Open every day from 9am be sure to pay Nathon Books if you have a long ferry journey ahead of you.
Nathon is also home to what was probably Koh Samui’s first supermarket. Samui Mart is as popular today as it has always been and this is partly due to the fact that it is well stocked with international brand foods and clothing. They have an excellent children’s clothing section and shoe department. Samui Mart is very reasonably priced and perfect if you just want a few groceries without having to travel into Chaweng.
One of the islands best shoe shops, Samui Shoes is also located in Nathon. This particular shop is famous for the quality of their shoes, most of which are real leather and can provide a welcome alternative to many of the copies that are on sale at some of the night markets and street stalls on the island. Samui Shoes also offer a shoe repair service and all of their shoes are very reasonably priced. If you ask nicely or are on good form with your negotiating skills you might even be able to bag yourself a bit of discount, which can’t be bad! Open daily from 9am, you can find Samui Shoes on Nathon Road.
Bophut is the place to go to if you are looking for small, traditional Thai souvenir shops. In Bophut you will not find any big name brands, shopping complexes or designer stores but that shouldn’t put you off visiting this part of the island.
What Bophut lacks in terms of modern shopping outlets is what helps to make up part of its charm. Probably the best way to fully appreciate the many different souvenir shops that are on offer in this sleepy fishing village is to take your time perusing up and down the main high street that contains many of the local shops and restaurants.
All along the street there are a plenty of places to stop for refreshments, which can be a nice place to spend a relaxing afternoon drinking a beer or two. As you continue towards the pier, you will no doubt come across a selection of small shops selling a wide range of T-shirts and sandals. Once you go past these shops and head onto the main street, you will then start to see a couple of trendy boutiques selling a range of fashionable goods.
One place that is great for picking up souvenirs is the Bophut Plaza. Here you will find more than you could ever imagine in terms wooden souvenir sculptures, copied DVD’s, beachwear, fake designer t-shirts, hats and shoes, as well as plenty of fishermen pants and sarongs in a wide range of fairly garish colours. All of which, can feel a little out of place in Bophut.
If you do decide to visit the Plaza then it is located right in the centre of the Fisherman’s Village and opens from 6pm to 11pm.
Away from the shopping plaza and more in keeping with the other traditional boutique style shops that can be found in Bophut is Samui Footwear. Here you will be able to choose from a large number of high quality and original designs, with shoes that are made to order exactly as you request. Providing you can allow about a week for the shoes to be made you could be left with some truly bespoke footwear that you will not be able to find anywhere else.
Open from 10am to 10pm every day, you can find Samui Footwear at the T-junction in the Fisherman’s Village, close to the pier.
After purchasing your bespoke footwear, you might be looking for an elegant dress or pair of obligatory fisherman’s pants to wear with them. If this is the case then head over to Siddharta for a well stocked range of classy boutique items and clothing, much of which is a bit more upmarket in both the design and quality compared to some of the stuff you can usually find in Chaweng.
If you are looking for something totally unique and unusual in the way of Thai handicrafts and souvenirs then make sure that you visit Samui Robot Group, which is located on the main road between Chaweng and Bophut. The Samui Robot Group specialise in making Predator or Alien like sculptures and statues out of recycle motorcycle and car parts, some of which can be pretty scary looking! If you don’t plan to buy and of the statues, it is worth visiting the shop just to take a look.
Maenam is generally thought of as being much more residential as opposed to being a hub for shopping and retail. However, amongst the growing numbers or restaurants and cafes you will still be able to find some shops that are definitely worth visiting.
The vast majority of these shops specialise in selling Asian inspired, teak furniture and have been trading in the area for many years. Due to their many years experience, the shop owners and staff are also on hand to offer you advice and information if you decide you want to ship a piece of furniture back home. Many of these shops are able to offer customers an international shipping service at fairly reasonable prices.
One of the best furniture shops on the island, Beautiful World, is located in Maenam and has an impressive range of excellent quality rosewood, teak and mahogany furniture. The owners of Beautiful World, who specialise in the export, claim that prices can be up to 50% here, than what you would usually find in Europe.
All of the furniture that is on sale in Beautiful World, including beds, chairs, cabinets, tables and wardrobes is carefully made from totally sustainable sources. If you want further confirmation, then ask to see the shops sustainability certificate when you visit. Shipping can also be arranged to any destination in the world.
If you happen to live on Koh Samui or own property on the island then a good shop to go to for some luxurious furniture is Java Teak. Popular amongst expats on Koh Samui, the prices here are reasonable and the quality is good. At any one time the shop usually has around 60-70 pieces of handmade furniture in stock. If you can see the piece you are looking for then you can order items from their extensive catalogue, ask in store for details.
Another popular furniture shop in Maenam is Benjavadee, which probably is home to the largest selection of home ware, furniture and handicrafts on the island. They really do stock just about everything for the home including ceramics, bowls made from coconut wood, Buddha statues, rattan mats, picture frames and Chinese tea services. They even have a range in handbags and jewellery.
This large shop is spread over two floors and is mainly aimed at expats. They also stock a nice selection of beds, wardrobes and dining tables. For large items Benjavadee can arrange for these to be shipped internationally but be warned, this probably won’t be cheap!