Thailand has many things to offer, but one of the best experiences of all is Bangkok amulet shopping. Just as with the more famous gold, gems and Thai antiques, there are amulets sold all over the city, many of which are labeled as “real” pieces but are in fact very clever reproductions. If you want to make sure you get the real deal when you go shopping for amulets, here are some things to remember when you go Thai amulet shopping in Bangkok that will help you avoid buying anything fake.
When amulet shopping in Bangkok, it’s always best if you can find a local guide who understands Thai language and who knows where to go. You should also do your own research before hunting down authentic Thai amulets. Without a trained eye, you won’t know how to spot the difference between a real piece and a fake piece. Learn about the history and the background of Thai amulets so you know what to expect.
When you go Thai amulet shopping in Bangkok, visit shops and boutiques that have a reputation for being trusted dealers. Ask around for the best places to go. Word travels fast about which dealers are bogus and which ones are legitimate. If you can, do a background check on the shops you visit. A trusted dealer will have genuine amulets for sale and most likely, he or she will know about the delicacy of each amulet. Interview the dealer on his knowledge about amulets. As a dealer, he should be an expert.
Be careful when you meet new sellers. There are many people who are not knowledgeable about amulets but attempt to sell them nonetheless. Sometimes they may not even be aware themselves if they are selling genuine or fake items, so it always pays to be wary of unknowledgeable dealers when amulet shopping in Bangkok. Be careful for some of the talkative ones as well – they might not know very much, but they still have the gift of the gab and can feed shoppers with all kinds of made up information about amulets.
Take note that when you are Thai amulet shopping in Bangkok, you are not shopping for ordinary goods but holy items. Amulets have value because of the process involved in making them. The best Thai amulets have all been blessed by monks. Some will undergo a ceremony in which monks chant over them so they are blessed with positive energy. This is why amulet shopping in Bangkok is popular. Many people believe in the “special powers” or promises of good luck that comes with these amulets.
Another tip for amulet shopping is that genuine pieces, while affordable, are not dirt cheap. Expect the real ones to be costly while the fake ones may be very cheap indeed. Five dollars for a fake amulet is overpriced. If you only want fake amulets, that’s fine, but always your goal should be to buy an amulet that is worth the amount you pay for it.
Are you looking forward to antique shopping in Bangkok during you trip? Antiques and many other beautiful products are available just about everywhere you go in Bangkok. You can go to malls and market and you’ll find them in huge numbers, but for a more rewarding experience, we recommend that you hunt for Bangkok antiques in some of the rarer antique shops. Here are a few key places for Bangkok antique shopping:
The Asian Heritage Shopping Centre is a mall that has shops for Bangkok antiques scattered everywhere. You can find furniture, textiles, silk and other handicrafts too. Siam Paragon is similarly a great place for antique shopping in Bangkok but it has fewer shops compared to Asian Heritage Shopping Centre. The antique shops are lined up on the fifth floor of Siam Paragon.
Sukhumvit Road in central Bangkok has a long strip of shops and boutiques that specialize in Bangkok antique shopping. You can find them easily enough by walking along the road, or else just ask around to find out where the shops are located (but remember not to ask the tuk tuk drivers, unless you want to pay them for taking you there!).
If you want to go antique shopping in Bangkok without having to jump from one location to another, you can head to the River City Complex, near the famous Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel. It has what is reputed to be the best collection of Bangkok antique shops. For top class antique collections, proceed to the 3rd and 4th floors of the River City Complex and check out stores like the Old Maps and Prints, and Acala. As well as Thai antiques, here you can find rare artifacts from Tibet and China, along with antique maps and illustrations.
Gaysorn Plaza is located in close proximity to the Le Meridien President Hotel and Tower, Ploenchit Road, near Siam Square. Most tourists enjoy Bangkok antique shopping here because the artifacts are a mix of Bangkok antiques and modern artifacts. For Southeast Asian collections, you can go to Triphum, which is located on the 2nd floor. The Thai Craft Museum is also found in the same building but it specializes in textiles and ceramics rather than antiques. They usually have craft demonstrations that attract a lot of tourists.
The Barang-Barang Antik store has some of the the most beautiful and rare collections of antiques and furniture from Indonesia. To find this one-of-a-kind store, just head down Ploenchit Road from Gaysorn and you can’t miss it.
If you want to go antique shopping in Bangkok for some vintage Thai furniture, pay a visit to Paul’s Antiques in Sukhumvit Road. The pieces featured here date back to the time when Thailand was known as Siam – during the colonial period.
Lastly, one great store that has to be mentioned is the Old Siam Trading Company, located in Sukhumvit Road. It has a wide variety of Bangkok antiques, such as postcards, stamps, traditional costumes of Khmer and Thais, headdresses, documents, etc.
Thailand is a popular destination for shoppers of genuine Thai antiques. The craftsmanship, the quality and the uniqueness of Thai antiques attract collectors from all over the world. It is not hard to find shops and boutiques selling antiques in Bangkok, but the challenge lies in spotting the genuine Thai antiques from amongst all those reproductions. Here are some tips to help you distinguish which ones are real and which ones are not.
Spotting fake antiques or reproductions
Check the price. Antiques are generally expensive because they are objects of high value. If the price is cheaper than you think it should be, ask the dealer. No dealer will make the mistake of pricing an antique too cheaply, and so if he insists that price is correct then it’s almost certainly not genuine. If unsure, inspect the artifact and do some research before buying.
Look at the whole collection. If the item you are eyeing has various examples then you should start being skeptical. Check to see if the item can be found in other antique shops or boutiques. Most likely, the ones you are seeing are reproductions.
It would be helpful to do as much research as you can on genuine Thai antiques, reproductions, etc. There are many resources online to get information from. The best way to prepare is by doing your homework first.
Inspect the antique. Be wary of details. For example, inspect the whole furniture. Is the design consistent with the whole ensemble? Is the piece a part of a larger set? Are the wear and tear marks located at the expected places? The wear and tear marks should be consistent with how particular furniture should have been used.
Look at the back and the underside of the furniture. If there are signs of varnish, paint or stains then be suspicious. The areas that are not supposed to be seen have no reason to be varnished or painted.
Where to find genuine Thai antiques
For a variety of antique shops to choose from, go to the River City Shopping Complex. The 3rd and 4th floors are filled with antique dealers, boutiques and shops. Some specialize in rare maps, textile, ceramics, furniture etc. For a larger collection that includes genuine Thai antiques and antiques from other Asian countries as well, visit the Old Siam Trading Company. Its collection dates back to the 1800s!