May 30 2012
Thailand’s known for its cheap clothes shopping, brand-name knock-offs and haggling to get already low-priced items at a steal. This, however, usually means sweating it out in an overcrowded market; anyone who has been to Bangkok’s Pratunam Market will know that the usually fun-filled day of shopping can turn into torture as temperatures soar in the covered, cramped maze of stalls. On Ko Samui, the market strips of Chaweng and Nathon are marginally more pleasant, but still, getting too sweaty in the tropical heat to try anything on takes the pleasure out of a shopping excursion. Cue shopping at Bophut’s Fisherman’s Village.
At Samui’s own little exclusive shopping strip in Fisherman’s Village, East meets the Med, with French-style vintage boutiques mingling with elegant tea-houses, and local Samui designer-wear outlets neighbours with seafront coffee lounges. Between these beautiful boutiques are a few no-name type shops selling the obligatory board shorts, corny logo T-shirts and mass-produced jewellery, but even these are in better surroundings and make for a more pleasant shopping trip.
True, buying in Fisherman’s Village will be pricier than shopping down the strip in Nathon, but a little negotiating can get you a long way. Generally speaking the stalls with the copies and stock to be found all over the island are open to negotiating, but the shops with air-con and prices attached to garments work are fixed price operations.
Here is a breakdown of my favourite Fisherman’s Village boutiques.
Saona, on the right side of the entrance to Fisherman’s Village, offers ladies’ fashion with an emphasis on unusual cuts. All in one day suits, off the shoulder dresses with unusual hemlines, and bold prints draw your eye as you enter this shop with a distinctive tropical beach theme. Original bikinis hang under a palm-frond canopy and beaded flip flops, straw hats and floral handbags adorn the shelves.
Bonjour lies about 50 metres on the left hand side once entering Fisherman’s Village. As the name suggests, the merchandise is French-inspired, with an extensive vintage line, as well as lovely wide-legged linen pants, broad-rimmed sunhats, and 1950s style shirtdresses. They also carry an interesting range of silver jewellery and printed scarves. A satisfied sigh left my lips as I handed over 900 baht for an ankle-length off the shoulder dove-grey dress.
When you leave Bonjour, pop in at Namcha tea-house to refresh over a good cuppa — very pretty, very ladylike, very colonial, and they do great wraps too. If you are looking for gifts or an unusual souvenir, they sell a range of pottery, china and wooden teapots, or perhaps just a packet of tea leaves will do; light in the luggage after all.
Across the road from Namcha is Amrapalli, guaranteed to make any hippie-chick giddy with delight. Think wild prints, pom-pom fringed dresses, hand-embroidered and hand-beaded shoes.
At the pier, turn left, and about halfway down Volver’s lime green and silver shopfront will catch your eye. Here eccentric handbags, soft-flowing boobtube dresses and Italian-style men’s floral shirts are the order of the day.
About 20 metres further along, on the opposite side of the road, is Samui-Ley Hotel. The hotel has only five rooms upstairs, but downstairs their lobby acts as a shop, internet cafe and seafront coffee shop. Here you’ll find a strange assortment of clothing piled onto hat stands, shelves lined with candles, lanterns and handmade postcards, and artwork by Gee decorating the walls. A scratch through the rails dug up a cute little white cotton top with a black print, for only 180 baht. While you’re in there, rest weary shopper’s feet over an iced coffee overlooking the boats in the bay.
Ah yes! This is the way to shop…
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