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Thai silk has become the stuff of legend and the lure is deserved. The silk here is beautiful, exceptional quality and shockingly affordable. Aside from the silks there are other inexpensive and equally beautiful textiles to buy. While every Tom, Dick and Harry seems to be running a tailor shop in this town all with fabric aplenty, here are a few places we recommend for quality and fair prices.
The Pahurat section of Bangkok, near Chinatown, is known for its fabric. Personally I find it hard to shop for fabric outdoors in sweaty alleyways and this is where the beauty of China World comes in. Located right in the Pahurat area, China World is a fabric mall and it’s indoors, brilliantly air-conditioned and a virtual mecca for wholesale fabric. There are dozens of little shops to check out and when last here I purchased beautiful linen for 70 baht per metre; a friend found satin for 40 baht per metre. (I am planning to use the linen I bought to have some trousers made.) The fabric here is a range of practical cottons, satins and synthetics, all good for having clothing tailored. A few shops sell Thai silk but finding them involves a bit of a search.
For more specialty fabrics Come Thai has exquisite antique textiles along with new local weaves. The prints here have an ethnic feel with piles and piles of cottons and silks in a variety of different styles and patterns. Come Thai is not the place to buy fabric by the metre but the ready-made items like bedspreads, scarves and pillowcases are all exceptional. Come Thai would be my number one suggestion if you are in the market for a real keepsake. With quality the price does go up and some items are rather expensive. I did, however, find a beautiful tablecloth for 1,000 baht.
Jim Thompson Outlet
Jim Thompson has become the quintessential Thai silk brand. While the real Jim Thompson store is pricey, the outlet is comparatively quite affordable. This huge complex sells a whole range of items from bolts of thick embroidered textiles to delicate silk scarves and home accessories. The best part is that everything is massively discounted, sometimes as much as 50 percent off. I found a beautiful woven rug here which I purchased for 400 baht. The outlet is somewhat out in the boonies, but there is a nice cafe on the top floor which is an excellent post-commute breather before you begin to shop. (Separately: don’t forget to check out Mr Thompson’s house.)
China World: A large red building located on Thanon Pahurat. The best way to get here is the MRT to Hualomphong or the Chao Phraya Express to Tha Memorial Bridge, and then a short cab ride to China World. Tell the driver Pahurat China World and you should end up at the right place.
Come Thai: Located on the third floor of Amarin Plaza on Thanon Phloenchit. Take the BTS to Chit Lom and follow the signs to Amarin Plaza. Open 09:00-18:00.
Jim Thompson Outlet: Located on Sukhumvit Soi 93. Take the BTS to On Nut and then a cab to Soi 93. Open daily 09:00-18:00. T: (02) 332 0930-4.