Shopping on Samui
The question used to be: ‘What can you buy on Samui?’ a few decades ago, choice was limited. Nowadays the question is: ‘What can’t you buy on Samui?’ The answer is very little.
Settle on Samui and you’ll not find there’s no lacking in shopping opportunities. The island has lots to offer in that department.
Apart from the malls, most of which are on the ring-road either in Chaweng or Lamai, Samui features four main shopping areas: Nathon, Fisherman’s Village, Chaweng and Lamai.
Nathon still retains a local feel about it and you are more likely to find a bargain here. If you take a stroll down so-called Middle Street (sandwiched between the beach road and the main road) you’ll see some wonderful Chinese style houses that have been converted into shops selling handicrafts and clothes. There are plenty of places to unwind with a cold drink and some food.
Nathon pretty much closes down in the early evening, so don’t come here for shopping after 6:00 pm. You’ll find only the restaurants are open at night.
Fisherman’s Village is well-known for its fashion boutiques. Shopping is a delight here as there are plenty of beachside cafes and bars. You can buy pretty much the same souvenirs and clothes here as anywhere else on the island, though there are a few shops that have something a little different and quirky. The village is perhaps the very opposite to Nathon; it opens later in the day and is ideal at sundown and after: come for an evening shopping trip and combine it with dinner at one of the many varied restaurants that line the beach road.
Chaweng is the busiest area on the island and that applies to shopping, too. Pretty much whatever you want in terms of clothes can be found here, from evening wear to bikinis, or even a tailor-made suit. There’s something for everyone and for every wallet. The extraordinarily long beach road is lined with shops and stalls, and is ideal for browsing. It’s easy to pick up souvenirs too. The drawback is that you can easily get tired walking along the street, especially in hot weather.
If you’re at a small shop or stall, then bargaining is all part of the social interaction here. It’s expected that there’ll be some bargaining about the price but it should all be done in a light-heartened fashion. The only places where bargaining isn’t expected are department stores, chain stores and some of the smaller boutiques with affixed price tags. If you don’t see a price tag then try your hand at bargaining.
For a laidback experience head for Central Festival, in the northern part of Chaweng, easily the island’s most sophisticated mall, with shops, bars and restaurants. You’ll also find the island’s only bookstore for new books here.
Well away from the beach road there are two notable malls: Lotus’s and Big C. Both are on the ring road and have large supermarkets. The supermarket at Big C stocks French cheeses and cold meats, as well as many products from French supermarket giant Casino. Lotus’s and Big C both have food courts and a number of retail shops in the mall itself. Lotus’s is also home to a large home improvements store. The malls’ supermarkets stock pretty much everything when it comes to food but you should certainly check out Makro. There are branches at Chaweng and Lamai. Makro stocks a huge array of fruit, vegetables and pretty much everything you need when it comes to food and drink. Makro is the largest supplier of the island’s restaurants, so you’re in good hands here.
Lamai, like Chaweng, has a busy beach road with lots of shops, but is less long. It’s also home to Lotus’s which has a large supermarket, a food court and retail stores.
Shopping with children in mind
For those of you with babies and toddlers shopping is probably your number one concern. Don’t worry. There’s no need to where to get supplies of diapers, formula or baby food. Samui has more than adequate supplies for all your baby needs, including all the necessities and all the fun stuff too for the beach: arm bands, swimming goggles and beach balls. Entertainment for your toddler won’t be a problem.
You can find just about everything you want on Samui – all the items you’d be able to buy in the West – and then some that are a bit unusual. Samui is a great place to browse, and in a relaxed and unhurried way, you can always enjoy an indolent session of retail therapy.