Centara Krabi Hotel – Anda Dhevi Resort & Spa in Krabi, Thailand

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Shopping in Krabi
Shopping in Krabi

THE sheer number and variety of buying opportunities in Thailand is astonishing - department stores, shopping malls, boutiques, markets and even plastic tables on the roadside. But what is worth buying in Krabi, and what is best saved for a trip to the shopping capital of Bangkok?

You can often pick up genuine brand name clothes and accessories in the Vogue department store in town (e.g. Leviís, Lacoste, Guy Laroche, Adidas) for up to half the price at home, as well as some good quality local brands. Of course, if authenticity is not a problem, then even cheaper copies of top designer goods are widely available in the beach areas. For 'real life' clothing from big shopping malls (as opposed to casual and beach wear) try the Outlet Village or Tesco Lotus hypermarket, located within a couple of kilometres of each other along the main highway route 4 to the airport.

Avoid tailors, unless they come specifically recommended by a previous (non-related!) customer. Tour guides in particular are notorious for taking large commissions from tailors for bringing them clients.

Computer or electronic products are better bought in Bangkok, if you have the time. Ditto for gems and gold jewellry - but beware of scams, which are rife in the capital.

Choice and price of handicrafts (see below) tend to be similar all over the country, so it makes little difference where you buy. With cheap transport costs and the spread of tourism, you are as likely to find wood carvings from Chiang Mai as coconut shell jewellry from Krabi in local souvenir stores. Prices in the tourist beaches of Ao Nang and Railay do tend to be a bit higher than in town or other areas, so either make a day trip to Krabi Town, or be prepared to bargain.

Bargaining is acceptable in all small shops selling souvenirs, handicrafts and casual clothing. In larger stores and in the department store it is not normal practice. Cash is the norm everywhere - credit card payments are generally only accepted in hotels and large restaurants - and that too at a surcharge of around 3%.

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Handicrafts in Krabi

Handicrafts in Krabi

These are perhaps Thailandís biggest value buy. Thousands of products, both contemporary and traditional are on offer, made from bamboo, cane, silk, wood, paper, ceramic etc. From things for the house, to bags and jewellry, all make great gifts, as well as unusual souvenirs of your trip.

To guarantee quality as well as support local cottage industries and traditional Thai craftsmen and women, always try to buy from genuine handicrafts shops, rather than those selling a generic range of ĎThaií products - many of which actually come from Indonesia or Nepal.

It is also possible to visit workshops directly under the government's 'One Tambon, One Product' scheme. In Klong Haeng, there are centres for coconut shell products and batik work and in Ban Khao Klom, a women's co-operative produces handmade paper objects from the leaves of pineapple plants.

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Visiting local markets in Krabi

Visiting local markets in Krabi

Local markets offer a wonderful insight into the life of Krabi people. Spend an afternoon strolling around the stalls (see practical info for days and venues) - there are genuine bargains to be had, especially on holiday footwear and clothes - if you are Thai-sized (i.e. very small). And, for a true flavour of Krabi, you should also sample some of the food on offer - itís clean and cheap, so donít be afraid to experiment.



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