And the best time to embark on a Khao San shopping spree? Well, unless you want to end up bad tempered and dripping sweat, we say in the evening. Not only is it cooler, but the range of things on sale also becomes even more intriguing (except on Mondays).
From dusk onwards, creative, baby-faced Thais come and sprawl out on the ground everything from funky hair accessories and exotic blouses to one-off T-shirts and vintage clothing. Many of these items are lovingly crafted by their own tender hands.
All Sorts of Counterfeit Clobber
More eclectic and exciting are the market stalls. It only takes a few minutes of tricky maneuvering Khao San Road's narrow, obstacle strewn pavements to realise that every last inch of space is dedicated to small commerce. Tightly packed stalls line the walk-ways on either side, and sell pretty much anything that can fit inside a backpack: knock-off t-shirts, sandals, shorts, trainers, fisherman's pants, sunglasses, bikinis, jewellery, textiles, pirate music CDs and DVDs, old Thai movie posters, and more.
Colourful street vendors also do the rounds, most of them from Northern Hill Tribes. This friendly but persistent breed traipses up and down, selling things like hammocks, croaking ornamental frogs and ethnic jewellery. As always when buying at markets in Bangkok, remember to bargain. But don't argue over a few measly baht. Meet them somewhere in the middle and you'll both part with your dignity in tact.
Amit Fashion makes excellent fitting clothes at very reasonable prices without compromising quality. They’ll keep your measurements for five years and accept mail orders from around the world. With over 20 years of experience, Amit Fashion guarantees the customers satisfaction and quality of its work.
- Opening Hours: 09:00 until late
- Address: 67 Khao San Road
- Tel: + 66 (0) 2 629 2518
Aporia offers a good selection of both new and secondhand English books and copies of the Lonely Planet. The shop is well organised and offers a pleasant atmosphere to browse in. They also buy and give good prices for used books.
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 20:00
- Address: 131 Thanao Road
- Tel: +66 (0) 2 629 2919
Open since the '80s, this market is favoured by locals for its bargains. Banglamphu Market is a good place to find inexpensive Thai products of almost everything from jeans, T-shirts, shorts, to well-known brand sneakers. There are a few secondhand book stores and numerous internet cafés located here.
- Opening Hours: 08:00 – 18:00
- Location: Banglamphu Market, Jakkapong Road (north of Khao San Road)
Plenty of travel guides, fictions, foreign magazines and newspapers can be found here. All items are new and Bookazine sometimes offers special discounts on new arrivals. Other braches within the area are at Sunset Street on Khao San and another one is on Chakrabongse Road.
- Opening Hours: 09:00 – 21:00
- Address: 62 Khao San Road
- Tel: +66 (0) 2 280 3785
Four Sons Jewelery
Situated at the end of Khao San Road (near Burger King), Four Sons Jewelry offers 95% sterling silverware including; rings, necklaces, earrings, bracelets and pendants on both retail and wholesale terms. Also, Four Sons Jewelry provides storage service.
- Opening Hours: 09:30 – 21:30
- Address: 5 – 7 Khao San Road
- Tel: + 66 (0) 2 282 9637
James International Fashion
Khao San has several shops offering good deals for tailor-made clothes, but if you want your suit and dresses done by one of the world's best tailors then head to James International Fashion. It's listed in the National Geographic Magazine's 'Top 10 Best Tailors in the World'.
This four-storey shop carries over 3,000 choices of quality fabrics and textiles including English flannels and worsteds, Scottish tweeds, fine cashmere, French gabardines, silk mohair from Italy and colourful Thai silk. James International Fashion is located on Sukhothai Road, (the Old City or Rattnakosin area).
- Opening Hours: 08:30 – 19:00
- Address: 439/1 Sukhothai Road
- Tel: + 66 (0) 2 668 2993-5
Less a bookstore, more a 15 metre stretch of alley lined with shelves. Resolutely not a place for the intellectual, Moonlight’s focus is less on highbrow, more on new and used backpacker favourites at middling prices. Think trashy thrillers, romance, the latest Lonely Planet, all seven volumes of Harry Potter. Annoyingly, books aren’t alphabetically arranged. They may buy your used bestseller as long it’s not overstocked (e.g. ‘The Beach’) or overly dog-eared.
- Opening Hours: 11:00 - 23:00
- Location: 71 Khao San Road
Open since 1981, Rainbow Silver specialises in jewelry and trinkets made in sterling silver. Despite its numerous designs of silver jewelry merchandise, they also take custom orders and produce made-to-order jewelry. Worldwide delivery or export service is provided.
- Opening Hours: 09:30 – 21:30
- Address: 269, Khao San Road
- Tel: +66 (0) 2 281 3460
Khao San Road’s biggest bookstore is dusty but well worth the sneezes, offering perhaps the best selection of used books in town. Lofty, neat shelves house everything from beach favourites, biographies and mildewed classics, to crime fiction and Bangkok expat lit. The more scholarly sections devoted to philosophy, war, history, travel writing and religion are crammed with rare or deleted Southeast Asian titles – a real treat for those interested in the region.
They also stock some German, Swedish, Danish, Dutch, Spanish and Italian language titles. Downsides include the slightly high prices – it is in backpacker territory after all – and the less than passionate staff. Still, delve deep for many unforeseen bargains.
- Opening Hours: 08:00 - 23:00
- Location: 46/1 Khao San Road
Taekee TaaKon offers mainly gorgeous textiles from main silk-producing area in northern Thailand. There is also a selection of interesting postcards and quality souvenirs that are not widely available elsewhere, selling at reasonable price.
- Opening Hours: 10:00 – 17:00
- Address: 118, Phra Arthit Road