Khao San Road’s Best Shopping: Shopping in Bangkok

While Khao San Road is known for being cheap, it isn’t always known for its quality, but there is a new renaissance of shops out to change that. Places like Pasiri Thai Handicrafts, with embroidered hill tribe products, are giving shoppers in the area hope. For high quality vintage clothing, LPs, and more, The Trapeze Swingers Shop is both unique and highly recommended. Jewelery also gives endless shopping possibilities in the Khao San area. Custom made quality silver can be found at the three decades plus running Rainbow Silver, and Oh La La features finely crafted homemade necklaces, pendants, and more. You can get a custom made suit at a fantastic price from both the honest The Gentleman Bangkok as well as the long running Buddy Tailors, and you can pick up some used paperbacks at Sara Barn Books. If you want to shop for yourself, try getting inked at Bkk Ink Tattoo, a top choice for those who want to get branded. Phra Athit road, near the river ferry pier and just five minutes from Khao San has a bit more refined shopping, such as the elegant textiles and even better postcards at Taekee Taekon. The entire area is a good place to pick up souvenirs, and follow it up with cheap eating and drinking, and while Khao San continues to change and go more upscale, it’s still a real part of Bangkok tourism history and well worth an afternoon and evening of shopping, dining, and people-watching.

A small family business with great attention to detail, fair prices, and plenty of customer satisfaction to attest, The Gentleman is one of the best and more legit tailoring options in the Khao San Road area, and well worth a visit should you need a custom made suit, jacket, pants, or more. With a large selection of fabrics like wool, cotton, linen, silk, velvet , and more, you can get just about anything you like here. The intimate shop features nice perks like keeping your measurements on file for your next visit, and works to meet deadlines that tourists have with coming and going from Bangkok, and can handle last minute or short notice requests most times. Find them on Rambutri Road, but not on the section just above and paralleling Khao San, but on the continuation of Rambutri, as it heads towards the Phra Athit Pier to the west.

Recommended for Khao San Road’s Best Shopping because: For quality tailoring and honest good service, The Gentleman Bangkok excels!

Dave’s expert tip: Easiest access here if you aren’t already on Khao San is to take the Chao Phraya River ferry to Phra Athit Road and walk into the Rambutri Alley from there.

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Oh La La

This little pop-up shop (but part of the great OhLaLa accessory brand in Bangkok) provides the lone decent souvenir stop leading from Rambutri Alley out to Phra Athit Road. It’s a welcome addition to the Khao San scene, which tends to be stall after stall of repetitive fishermen pants, tie-dye rasta shirts, and copied DVDs. At Oh La La, they make necklaces, pendants, scarves, and other accessories all by hand, and the quality is a good step up from most other spots you find in the area. The shop is brightly lit, run by a couple of friendly ladies, and the quality of the goods make it quite attracting when you are walking out to catch the nearby river ferry.

Recommended for Khao San Road’s Best Shopping because: For handmade necklaces, jewellery, and accessories, Oh La La is far classier than most shops in this neighborhood.

Dave’s expert tip: Follow Rambutri Alley to its west side (across from the end of Khao San) and behind the temple, where you will find small Chana Songkhram alley leading out to Phra Athit Road. Oh La La is just next to Happio Place. There is also another small shop near the Phra Athit Pier entrance.

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Pasiri Thai Handicraft & Souvenir

This hole in the wall shop is just a small space set in the busy Susie Alley that runs from Khao San to Rambutri towards its east end, but it is one of the more eye-grabbing stalls in the alleyway, as it is full of colorful bags, clothes, and other handicrafts that come from the ethnic minority-rich hill tribe region of northern Thailand. There are some great souvenirs to be had here, from Hmong bags to scarves, skirts, sarongs, and shoes, to name but a few. The owner, Ms. Su, is friendly and not pushy, unlike some of the other shops around here, and you’re also free to try your hand at bargaining down some of the prices. For something local that friends at home will like, it’s an excellent stop.

Recommended for Khao San Road’s Best Shopping because: For colorful hill-tribe clothing, fabrics, and other souvenirs, Pasiri Thai Handicraft is a good Khao San Road stop.

Dave’s expert tip: Walk down Khao San Road from its Tanao Road entrance, and you’ll find Susie Alley just a few hundred meters down the road on your right. The shop is halfway up the alley on your right side, across from the Pillow Hostel.

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Bkk Ink Tattoo

While it might seem novel, actually a lot of visitors to Bangkok make a journey to a tattoo parlor high on their list. Getting inked isn’t for everyone, but for those who want some body art, Bangkok has become a good place to get it, with some fabulous artists who do a reputable job. At Bkk Ink Tattoo Studio several of the tattoo artists have won awards at tattoo conventions. From large to small, black and grey or colors, and specializing in tribal, Polynesian, geometric, or oriental tattoos such as dragons or snakes, these folks can do it all. They were the first studio in Thailand to get a tattoo license and recently received a French certificate at the Paris Tattoo Convention. In addition to applying tattoos, the Bkk Ink Tattoo folks also make sure you follow the right aftercare procedures.

Recommended for Khao San Road’s Best Shopping because: for excellent service with well experienced tattoo artists, Bkk Ink Tattoo Studio is well recommended.

Dave’s expert tip: Tanao Road is the perpendicular street on the east side of Khao San Road. The tattoo studio is located right across from the metal barriers that mark the start of Khao San Road.

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Buddy Tailor

Bangkok is one of the better spots in the world to buy quality mens’ clothing at excellent prices. Custom tailoring is a big draw here, yet it is often hard to know whom to trust and what a fair price is, especially around Khao San Road, where countless touts try to drag you from the street into shops and procure a commission for their efforts. Buddy Tailor bucks this trend, as they don’t send touts into the street, and the family business which has been in Bangkok for several decades has dozens of accolades written by satisfied travelers from around the globe taped up all around their shop windows. Here you can get measured for the finest in pants, shirts, and jackets and have a custom made suit whipped up in a few days.

Recommended for Khao San Road’s Best Shopping because: For non-aggressive sales tactics, good quality, and fair prices, Buddy Tailor is a good fit!

Dave’s expert tip: find Buddy Tailor by going into the Buddy Lodge Hotel building ground floor.

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Sara Barn Books

Bangkok is a good place to stock up on used paperbacks for traveling around Asia, and especially in this part of Khao San Road, all of the latest bestsellers and popular reads are always being swapped and sold, so the selection is pretty good. Sara Barn Books, also known as Book Lovers, is easily found opposite Shewa Spa at the top of Susie Alley up from Khao San near the Rambutri Road exit, seems to have a better selection than most, and they don’t pester you over browsing or taking your time to peruse a bit like most of the other shops. You can return books bought here for 50% of what you paid, receive credit or some cash for items you have to sell, and the book stock is at least somewhat categorized by subject or author, giving you a chance of finding what you are looking for.

Recommended for Khao San Road’s Best Shopping because: an excellent selection of used travel books, Thailand books, Buddhist books, and postcards makes Sara Barn Books a good choice.

Dave’s expert tip: best to get here following directions up from Khao San. Just look for Shewa Massage.

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Rainbow Silver

Rainbow Silver is a second generation family business that has been one of Khao San Road’s top shopping spots since 1981. Not only are they a wholesaler of fine silver jewellery, but also a manufacturer that knows silver craft pretty darn well. Rainbow does handmade and machine made silver pieces, and will even custom design silver jewellery based on a client’s design and specifications. From rings to bracelets to pendants, the store has a vast selection of products, and all of their work is guaranteed. Endorsements from the Ministry of Commerce and local Jewellers’ Association help travellers rest assured that they are in good hands here, which is not always the case when it comes to Khao San Road merchandise.

Recommended for Khao San Road’s Best Shopping because: For quality silver jewellery, Rainbow Silver is one of Bangkok’s best.

Dave’s expert tip: If you want something custom made, better to contact them in advance via their website to ensure it will be ready before you depart.

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Khao San Road

Shopping doesn’t have to be at a specific spot here, as Khao San itself is just a shopping paradise where street stalls change daily and you can find everything from t-shirts to traditional Thai cushions, copied souvenirs, DVD’s, jewelery, arts and crafts, and pretty much anything you need “Thai” to bring home. The street has gone from being a hippie and backpacker haven to moving a bit more upscale. While it still remains a place for cheap lodgings and for Thais to come and check out the foreign crowd, it also is an excellent spot to eat, drink, people-watch, and shop, and you can also get your hair braided in dreadlocks and get your body tattooed while you wait.

Recommended for Khao San Road’s Best Shopping because: For street shopping, souvenirs, and great people-watching, Khao San Road is legendary.

Dave’s expert tip: Ignore the tuk-tuk drivers that hang out at either end of Khao San. Either take metered taxis to escape or else use the nearby Phra Athit ferry pier on the Chao Phraya River. Make sure to explore the area behind the temple on Chakrapong Road and the ferry pier, a quiet alternative to Khao San.

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The Trapeze Swingers Store

While most shops around Khao San Road are geared towards the tourist trade, often selling similar tacky souvenirs and trinkets, this little gem over on Soi Rambutri just near the corner of Phra Athit is a must-stop for those into vintage items, and the tiny shop sees far more bohemian Thais than it does foreigners. You’ll find mens and women’s fashion here ranging from ethnic to lace to old jeans, dresses and shoes dating back as far as the 1920s, along with an excellent collection of classic CDs and vintage LPs to browse through. You can even buy a beer here to help with your browsing, and despite the promximity to Khao San, it feels a million miles away. Prices aren’t rock bottom, but the quality is high, and a notch above what you’ll discover on Khao San.

Recommended for Khao San Road’s Best Shopping because: For vintage goods far above the Khao San norm, Trapeze Swingers is the Big Top!

Dave’s expert tip: The most convenient way to get here is to take the Chao Phraya River ferry to the Phra Athit pier, from where it’s just a five minute walk.

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Taekee Taekon

Taekee Taekon (pronoucned takeh takone) is a lovely shop specializing in textiles from all over Thailand. A longtime running shop in a neighborhood full of come and go, this is one of Bangkok’s “hidden” shopping gems. You can buy some decent silk here, along with plenty of other arts and crafts, and there will certainly be something here that can make anybody’s souvenir list. Located in a traditional old home fronted by bamboo paneling along artsy Phra Athit Road, this shop is a bit more refined than your average Khao San souvenir joint. Home accessories are available along with the various silk and fabric offerings, and the postcard selection is of the finest quality, with some great black and white prints available showing off a stylish side of Thailand.

Recommended for Khao San Road’s Best Shopping because: for stylish souvenirs and fine silks, Taekee Taekon is a good option around Khao San.

Dave’s expert tip: get here by walking from Khao San Road through and behind the temple across Chakraphong Road,,continuing west towards the river until you reach Phra Athit. Turn right here and head up past all the stylish cafes to find Taekee Taekon.

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