Thai Antiques in Bangkok
Home to fine craftsmanship and a rich cultural heritage, Thailand has always been a treasure trove for antique aficionados around the world. But let’s face it; the genuine antiques are both rare and expensive. Strict government regulations and rigorous efforts to curb illegal trade (of works stolen from ancient temples) have made it all the more difficult to chance upon genuine pieces.
‘Antiques’, then, is a term almost always referring to modern reproductions of the original pieces. Many of the replicas available in the market have been crafted with skilful hands and are pretty convincing to non-discerning eyes. Unless you are passionate antique collector, these replicas are just as good – and probably more suitable – for decorative purposes. The question is not whether or not you are buying genuine antique but rather whether or not the price you pay is reasonable. Many vendors will try to trick you into paying a lot more for what their goods are worth.
How to Bag a Bargain
It takes a pair of trained eyes and, perhaps, years of experience in the trade to tell a genuine piece from a fake. But for the purpose of decorating a home, apply the same rule you use when buying paintings or decorative art pieces. A good rule of thumb is to look for any ‘untidiness’ in the finish or decorative details. Also look for any paint chips or small pieces that may have fallen off. If the quoted price doesn’t reflect the quality of craftsmanship, or if you gut feeling says no, then don’t buy it.
Where to Buy Antiques in Bangkok
Many stores in Bangkok stock both genuine antiques and more modern reproductions intended for less discerning shoppers. Perhaps most ubiquitous is Buddhist art reflecting distinctive styles of the Kingdom's past eras. The River City Shopping Complex is one of the most established venues for antique shopping. Most of the shops here are well-established and run by people with genuine passion and in-depth knowledge about their goods. Another recommended place to go is The Silom Galleria on Silom Road (near BTS Surasak).
Note that, theoretically, any Buddhist statue leaving Thailand requires a certificate of approval from the Ministry of Culture. However, the dealer or shop owner would be able to assist you with this. Be careful of dealers who try to furnish you with authentication papers along with your purchase, particularly when you buy from a market or non-reputable vendor.
Thai Antiques in Bangkok
Old Siam Trading Company
Starting from one man's passion for collecting Asian antiquarian books, prints and maps, Old Siam Trading Company offers a large collection of collector's items related to travel and exploration in the region. The collection extends to old stamps, Southeast Asian dance masks and illustrated news prints from the 1840s, including Le Petit Journal, The Illustrated London News and Le Tour Du Monde.
- Opening Hours: 08:30 - 18:00 (Mon-Fri); 11:00 - 18:00 (Sat); or by appointment
- BTS: Nana
- Address: 5th floor, Nailert Building (Between Sukhumvit Sois 3 and 5)
- Tel: +66 (0)2 251 3228 to 29
Constructed in 1908, OP (Oriental Plaza) Place is a historic showpiece in itself with added vintage flair such as its Neoclassic architecture and the manually operated elevator. The building houses several floors of galleries and shops selling exquisite antiques of all shapes and sizes.
Lovers of rare collectibles and crafts will be blown away by the copious collection of Asian handicrafts, antiques, jewellery, carpets, textiles, paintings, and Thai silk. Not to be missed is Ashwood Gallery, which features works ranging from 19th century Burmese alabaster sculptures to Chinese and Japanese prints.
If you keep walking around this area you'll find a plethora of jewellery stores and shops specializing in export trade. There are some good deals to be had if you look hard enough. A branch of Chitralada shop, a project initiated by Her Majesty Queen Sirikit, can also be found here. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 10:30 - 18:30
- Location: 30/1 Soi Charoen Krung 38 (behind the Oriental Hotel)
- BTS: Saphan Taksin
- Tel: +66 (0)2 266 0186
River City is a four-storey mall overlooking sweeping views of the Chao Phraya River. It specialises in antiques and collectibles, with monthly on-site and online auctions, although there’s also a good range of fashion and jewellery shops as well as riverside eateries with outdoor dining terraces. Read More...
- Opening Hours: 10:00 - 20:00
- Location: Charoen Krung Soi 30 (next to the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel)
- Tel: +66 (0) 2237 0077-8
- How to get there: Get on the BTS to Saphan Taksin Station. There's a free shuttle boat service to the River City available at Sathorn Pier everyday from 10:00 to 20:00.
The Silom Galleria
Only a short walk from Surasak Skytrain Station, The Silom Galleria has over 100 selected stores offering quality art, antiques, and gems. Many items on display at this art and craft centre are rare and unique. Some of the most exquisite pieces can be viewed by appointment only. It’s worth a visit.
- Opening Hours: 09:30 – 18:30
- Location: Between Silom Soi 19 and Soi Surasak
- BTS: Surasak
- Tel: +66 (0) 02 630 0944-50
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