Antiques shopping in Thailand like in most places requires a trained eye and experience. It is easy to be duped if you don’t know your way around this market. It’s also getting increasingly hard to find genuine Buddhist and Thai antiques due to ever increasing control and regulations.
Moreover many antiques from Thailand, especially Buddha statues, requires a certificate of approval from the Ministry of Culture to be brought out of the country. So in case you plan to buy a genuine Thai Antique be sure to get the right documentation and figure at least a week for approval from the government.
Most “antiques” people buy these days are replicas and modern reproductions. Buying the real thing is expensive (and as mentioned not for the unexperienced) and many just want a nice piece to spruce up their home, give as a gift or aquire a physical memory of their time spent in the amazing kingdom of Thailand.
So in this site I have included much about regular souvenir/reproduction shopping in Bangkok and around Thailand as well as this is what most people are interested in.
The Ancient City – also known as the world’s largest outdoor museum – is the best place to pay a visit to get an summary of the Thai way of life and the historical past of Thailand in a day. Within the park there are over 100 constructions of Thailand’s prominent monuments plus architectural sights. Several of the buildings are life-sized replications of present or past sites, while some are scaled down versions.
The replications were created with the help of professionals of the National Museum to guarantee historical exactness. Remarkable works include the original Grand Palace of Ayutthaya (sacked and burned down in the Burmese invasion around 1767), Phimai Sanctuary in Nakhon Ratchasima, and Wat Khao Phra Viharn on the Cambodian border.
Having lots of architectural designs coupled with great arts and craftsmanship, structural layout along with surroundings which integrate harmoniously, The Ancient City brings about a sort of ambiance that causes people to understand as well as appreciate the continuity of history, beliefs, cultures and practices of the Thai people from the ancient past up to now.
Information: Mueang Boran is situated in Samut Parakan – an hour’s drive outside Bangkok. Admission is 100 Baht for adults 50 Baht for kids, in addition 50 Baht if you drive your own vehicle. You can also find bicycles and golf carts for rent there.
Getting there: Because it is quite far outside Bangkok a taxi or your own vehicle is recommended. Although it costs more than public transport, the benefits of saving time as well as the added comfort fully over-shadow the cost. If you want to take a bus take the 511 out of the Southern Bus terminal at Paknam to the end of the line. Take the 36 mini-bus from here to the entrance of the Ancient City.
KM 33 (old) Sukhumvit Road
78/1 Democracy Monument
Tel. 0-2224-1057, 0-226-1936-7
Built in 1908, OP Place is really a historic showpiece in itself with added classic style like its Neoclassic architecture and the manually operated lift. The complex has several storeys of art galleries and stores offering superb antiques of all shapes and forms.
Enthusiasts of unique crafts and other collectibles will likely be amazed because of the large collection of Asian handicrafts, antiques, carpets, jewelry, fabrics, artwork, and Thai silk.
Situated next to The Oriental Hotel, OP Place also has a third floor that is a floor dedicated to The Ashwood Gallery which is an attractively arranged gallery of antique arts, crafts as well as furniture. It’s very well laid out and is essential for antique enthusiasts or just people who want to own an item of some excellent Asian heritage.
The OP Place Asian Heritage Centre has been very well designed and oozes the feeling that everything must be expensive which is normally the case. There’s car parking but there aren’t a large number of spaces available. On the other hand, it is possible to park in the Oriental Hotel’s car park which costs 40 Baht an hour.
Like with all antique shopping you have to know what you’re doing. Having said that, there are many very nice items on display and if you like Oriental furniture and items of art, OP Place will surely not dissapoint you.
If you keep walking around this area you’ll find an array of jewelry stores as well as shops dedicated to foreign trade. There are some good deals on offer if you look hard enough. A branch of Chitralada shop, a project initiated by Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, can also be found here.
Opening Hours: 10:30 – 18:30
Location: 30/1 Soi Charoen Krung 38 (behind the Oriental Hotel)
BTS: Saphan Taksin
Tel: +66 (0)2 266 0186
The antique shopping mall opened in l984 and was the very first riverside shopping complex of this type in Bangkok. With more than 47,000 sqm of space along with a approximately 200 retail stores spread over 4 floors, the mall offers a wide array of shopping possibilities.
The main objective of the River City mall is on Thai national articles like antiques and art. There are standard retail shops here as well. The mall furthermore hosts numerous displays, functions, festivals and auctions all through the year.
Monthly auctions are held at the auditorium on the 4th floor the 1st Saturday of every month arranged by the Riverside Auction House Ltd.
The 1st and 2nd floors of the River City Shopping Complex have a multitude of silk shops, tailors, jewellers, art galleries, leather stores, gift shops and boutiques.
On the 3rd and 4th floors there are over a hundred art and antique stores having rare antiques like Buddha images, big blue and white vases, gold and silver ornaments, ceramics, porcelain, Thai benjarong items, art deco clocks and sculptures, elaborate wood designs and carvings and other fine art from all around South East Asia, China and even Europe. There are also quite a few independent art and antique shops on the premises.
An array of amenities and services assure River City’s shoppers as well as visitors their highest possible comfort and shopping enjoyment; a good amount of car parking spaces for in excess of five hundred cars, tourist information, 24-hour security, a walkway linking the Complex with the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel to name a few.
A free of charge taxi boat service transports people between River City and Sathorn Pier. Direct boat services also link the River City Shopping Complex with the Oriental Hotel, the Shangri-la, the Peninsula, the Millennium Hilton as well as the Royal River Hotel.
The River City’s Boat Tour Centre set up in 1990 offers services of river and canal tours, dinner cruises along with a luxury cruise to Ayutthaya leaving from its very own pier.
Opening Hours: 10:00 – 20:00
Location: 23 Trok Rongnamkhaeng, Charoen Krung 30 (next to the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel)
Tel: +66 (0)2 237 0077-8
How to get there: Take the Sky Train to Saphan Taksin Station. There’s a free shuttle boat service to the River City available at Sathorn Pier everyday from 10:00 to 20:00.
Bangkok is the shopping Mecca for those on the prowl for great antique souvenirs. With excellent Bangkok souvenirs that speak of the good taste and cultural intricacies uniquely Thai, one would be hard put not to be overly extravagant when assaulted with the pomp and pageantry of Bangkok souvenir shopping. It is recommended though, that the shopper possess a certain maven-ish flair for telling authentic and genuine antiques from mere reproductions.
Buddhist art, specifically, is pervasively omnipresent, as it distinctively reflects the unique and one-of-a-kind quality of Thailand’s ancient periods. Any Buddhist figure obtained when Bangkok souvenir shopping must be accompanied by a certificate of authenticity and approval issued by the Ministry of Culture, and should thusly be provided by the dealer. Be wary of unscrupulous dealers when it comes to antiques.
The Antique Lover’s Haven
Antique connoisseurs and collectors are well-advised to try Bangkok souvenir shopping at a sprawling premier place dedicated to such endeavors – the River City Shopping Complex over at 23 Yota Road, Sampantawong. With the third- and fourth-floor shops having the widest array of magnificent antiques and captivating collector’s items, it would be an unending dilemma to actually make a final choice and close a bargain. A rare global collection can be seen with a great selection of local Bangkok souvenirs interspersed with those from Cambodia, China, Europe, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam.
Take your pick–if you can–from among rich collections of ceramics and porcelains, silver and gold trinkets and boxes, sculptured and wooden pieces, among other things. Be mesmerized further by a cluster of antique shops selling Bangkok souvenirs conveniently located on the ground floor. As an added attraction to those shoppers out for only the most genuine pieces regardless of their price, monthly auctions are held on every first Saturday of every month. Organized by the Riverside Auction House, this Bangkok souvenir shopping event promises to be a thrilling bidding experience for the seriously discriminating antique collector and connoisseur.
The Silom Galleria
With a breathtaking collection of artistic crafts and fine antique pieces, the Silom Galleria at 919/1 Silom Road, Bangrak in Bangkok could very well be the antique collector’s best bet for Bangkok souvenir shopping. Here, you can find jewelry and Bangkok souvenirs that showcase the superb skills of Thai jewelry crafting renowned throughout the world. Thailand’s largest collection of precious gemstones in intricate settings is easily procurable to the serious antique jewelry shopper. Aside from this, ancient arts and art products that elegantly display Thailand’s creative flair are also available. You couldn’t get anything or go anywhere better than this–the Silom Galleria.
Suan Pakkad Palace is located on Sri Ayutthaya Road not far from the Victory Monument in downtown Bangkok. Initially the house of Prince Chumbhotpong Paripatra and his spouse, they transformed it into a museum that opened in 1952.
Suan Pakkad means “Cabbage Patch”, in reference to when the area was nothing more than exactly that. These days, on the other hand, it’s a well cared for tropical garden with tranquil ponds encircling 8 traditional Thai houses, each of which is filled with fine arts, antiques in addition to oddities belonging to the Prince and Princess. The over 450 years old Lacquer Pavilion is considered the most impressive construction within the compound.
The first thing that greets visitors is a building which displays ancient Ban Chieng items dating back to the Neolithic, Bronze and Iron Ages. These rare pieces of decorated ceramics, bronze weaponry and equipment, shows a Southeast Asian civilisation that was equal to Egypt and Stonehenge when it comes to technological and cultural development.
The architectural centerpiece of Suan Pakkad Palace features 4 Thai teak wood houses situated between the front of the palace and garden. Each one was moved here from its original place in Chiang Mai and, like the majority of traditional Thai houses, are 2 storeys high (they are all interconnected by way of 2nd floor platforms, so you’re able to wander between buildings without needing to go up and down the stairs).
To sum up Suan Pakkad Palace is an excellent location to stop by to view numerous rare and diverse pieces as well as architectural designs.
Opening hours: 09:00 – 16:00
Location: 352-354 Sri Ayudhya Road. Pratunam (five minutes walk from Phaya Thai BTS station)
Contact: +66 (0)2 245 4934
One good reason to visit Bangkok: Thai handicrafts shopping. For generations, Thais have passed on the skills of making and producing superb quality, beautiful handicrafts using unique methods molded by Thai creativity and perseverance. The detail and the intricacy of the handicrafts are incomparable to anywhere else in the world. Thais have successfully preserved their culture, their tradition and their proud history in the handicrafts that they produce. The beauty and the quality of these crafts are sought after by many tourists in Bangkok.
Nowadays, Bangkok is a vision of urbanization, typical of the world today. However, the skilled handicrafts of Thais are not lost nor are they forgotten. Thai handicrafts shopping remains one of the top reasons to visit Bangkok. The street vendors, markets and luxury malls are scattered with these amazing handicrafts. Here is a short guide of places to go handicrafts shopping:
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!