Shopping in Phuket
Phuket is a great place to go shopping for everything from knockoff jeans to designer perfume. The large number of shopping outlets on the island means that there are lots of bargains to be found. If you want malls with all the usual trimmings, Phuket has them by the bucketload.
Central Festival is just outside Phuket Town on the bypass road. This large mall has shops, supermarkets, a cinema and restaurants. There’s ample parking underground, although you may have to hunt for spaces on Saturdays and Sundays.
The Central Department store features genuine perfumes, cosmetics, watches, jewelery, sunglasses clothes, bags, silk scarves, toys and more. Meanwhile, around Central Festival there are outlet stores of such brands as Levis, Hush Puppies, Lacoste and Guess.
There are lots of clothing stores, including the recently opened Zara. Tops supermarket has a decent range of spirits and other items. There are also numerous places to buy sportswear, including Supersports on the third floor.
The second floor is home to several banks with ATMs and the option of changing currency. The selection of restaurants at Central Festival is nothing to write home about – KFC, Pizza Hut, Fuji, Sizzler and so on – but if you just want a bite to eat, it’s not bad.
Down the road from Central Festival is Big C. If you want to buy groceries or cellphones in Phuket, this is the place to do it. The supermarket is huge and has just about every type of food and household item you might need.
A little farther down the road from Big C is Living Mall, which specializes in products for the house, including all kinds of furniture and jazzy household items. Living Mall is also home to the Oishi buffet, so head there if you’re a sushi fan.
Across the road from Living Mall is Tesco-Lotus, which has standard chain restaurants and a few stalls peddling selling clothes and knick knacks. The supermarket is always well stocked. There’s a foodcourt upstairs offering a good selection of Thai dishes.
Jungceylon is a large mall in Patong at the Eastern end of Soi Bangla. There are Robinson and Carrefour stores in Jungceylon, as well as about 200 shops selling everything from laptops to designer shoes. It’s a shopper’s paradise and also features a cinema, bowling alley and lots of places to eat and drink.
The courtyard is a pleasant spot to hang out and there is usually some kind of event going on. The water show is worth seeing once, too.
Another place to go shopping in Patong is at either one of the Ocean stores, which are more like bazaars than shops. There’s one on Soi Bangla with ample supply of jewelry and clothing as well as various other items. You can usually haggle prices down, too. The second Ocean is towards the southern end of the beach road. It’s more of the same and can be fun if you’re looking for gifts to take back home.
Not all shopping in Phuekt has to be done in shops. Just take a walk around Patong and you’ll find the streets lined with vendors trying to flog DVDs, videogames, suits, T-shirts and funny hats. The quality varies and sellers use aggressive, annoying sales tactics, so you have to be careful if you don’t want to be ripped off.
A stroll around Phuket town reveals a number of interesting boutiques and antiques shops. As far as shopping in Phuket goes, Phuket Town is far less crazy than Patong, although the selection isn’t as good. There are Robinson and Ocean Mall stores in Phuket Town.
The weekend market
The Phuket weekend market is located just outside Phuket Town, off Chao Fa West Rd and close to Naka Temple. Although it is usually incredibly busy and tall people will find themselves hunched over most of the time, this market is definitely worth a visit. There are lots of places to buy cheap T-shirts, jeans, underwear, shoes and so on. There are also some cool spots to sample some Thai food and sit down for dinner.
If you want a kitten or a puppy, this is also the place to go. Pirate DVDs, CDs and videogames are also here in abundance.
The lowdown in VAT refunds
You may have read that tourists can get VAT refunds from products bought during a holiday in Thailand. This makes shopping in Phuket even more appealing. The deal is that anyone who enters Thailand on a tourist visa and stays for less than 180 days in a calendar year can get a refund of the 7% VAT paid on items bought at outlets displaying “VAT Refund for Tourists” signs.
Items must be taken out of the country within 60 days of buying them and the minimum purchase is 2,000 baht per store, per day with the total value of good at least 5,000 baht. You can get a PP10 VAT refund form by showing your passport to the sales assistant when you make your purchases.
At the airport, you have to present your completed VAT refund form, passport details and receipts to a customs officer. If you’ve bought jewelry, gold, watches, glasses or pens, be prepared to show the items to the VAT refund office at the departure lounge. Refunds can be given as bank drafts or credited to a credit card.