Although not what usually attracts visitors, shopping is among one of the island’s fun activities that can be had enjoyed by everyone in the family. A great selection of goods ranging from the island’s souvenirs, handicrafts, painting, beachwear, sunglasses, fabric to CDs, DVDs and books are on offer. Shops in each beach are easy to locate as they are often found in concentration along the beach’s main road, which is one long stretch, sided by a variety of small shops and stalls.
In addition to the roadside shops, more shops of the same variety can also be found in small shopping ‘plazas’, especially in popular beach areas like White Sand, Klong Prao, Kai Bae and Lonely. Small markets, while catering mostly to the locals, offer a fun experience and a glimpse into the locals’ lives. Beach vendors are also worth taking a look, if you’re interested in buying handmade accessories made from natural materials like sea shells and coconut shells.
Like elsewhere in Thailand, haggling is expected and encouraged. Just remember to approach with a smile, stay polite and, if possible, arm yourself with a couple of basic Thai phrases like hello, ‘sawasdee krub/ka’ and thank you, ‘kob khun krub/ka’ (‘ka’ is for male and ‘ka’ is for female). And to give you a head start, here are everything Koh Chang has to offer in categories.
Art & Handicrafts
A great range of handicrafts and art like paintings, carpets, scarves and antiques are offered in many shops along the main road in each beach, and sometimes are sold by beach vendors roaming the area. If you’re looking for something exotic to decorate your home, look no further than Prince Craft Centre. Located opposite the Grand View Resort in White Sand Beach, the shop houses world-famous carpets, antique rugs, Pashmina shawls, cushions and many more. Paintings depicting ‘Thainess’ like countryside scenery, temples and Buddha in different poses are on sale in almost every beach area.
Depending on size and level of difficulty, prices vary from a few hundreds to thousands baht. Original artwork and commission work can also be found at Rungthip studios and Sun Gallery found in White Sand Beach and the area between Klong Prao and Kai Bae beaches. Keep in mind that although Thai creativity and craftsmanship is well-known, it’s always good to inspect goods closely before making a purchase.
Reading is always a great activity to do while soaking in the sun or relaxing by the pool. A great selection of books in many languages can be found at Lonely Books at Nature Beach Resort (Lonely Beach). The shop’s another branch is located at 3&3 Plaza in Kai Bae Beach. A secondhand bookshop is available on White Sand Beach, opposite Ban Pu Resort. Some cafes, pubs, convenient shops, hotels and resorts also offer book rentals and exchanges.
Koh Chang has the usual mix of souvenirs that make a great gift item for friends and families back home. Recommended keepsakes include customised Koh Chang items like t-shirts and mugs with an elephant (‘chang’ in Thai means elephant) on them. Accessories like sunglasses and bracelets and necklaces made from natural materials like sea shells and coconut shells, dried seafood products and local specialties like dried fruits are also on offer.
For a unique selection of souvenirs, head to the shop called Portobello located right next to Koh Chang Kacha Resort & Spa, the other one opposite to the same resort. These small but chic shops stand out with their huge glowing a la London underground neon sign. The shops feature lovely hand-crafted table and floor lamps as well as costume jewellery made from silver, precious and semi-precious gem stones.
Fabric, Tailored Clothing & Beachware
Famed for its delicate texture and fine quality, Thai silk ranks among every visitor’s ‘must-buy’ lists. While not well-known for Thai silk, Koh Chang still offers clothing and souvenirs made from this material such as scarf, tablecloth and handkerchief. Souvenir shops along each beach’s main road, plazas and markets are some of the places you can find Thai silk.
Be careful about the quality of the fabric because sometimes it’s interwoven with synthetics, making it of an inferior quality. The bottom line is to inspect carefully before you buy, and if possible, take someone knowledgeable along. Tailors are in abundance on the island with each boasting a ‘ready in 24 hours’ service. This may sound too good to be true, and most of the times it probably is! Remember that tailoring requires meticulousness and anything done in a rush is likely to have defects. Ask someone at the resort for reputable tailors before venturing out by yourself.
Many shops feature reasonably-priced beachwear like shorts, bikinis, beach towels, sandals, hats, sunglasses, beach toys and much more. Speedo and BSC (Thai brand of swimwear) outlets are also located in White Sand and Kai Bae Beaches.