People buy a lot of silly, strange and useless items when they come to Bangkok. You might wonder who actually buys them, although a quick survey proves that many travellers have bought some of the items in this list, and you might even have the full collection.
Thai hawkers centre on tourist hotspots such as Khao San Road, Siam and the Nana area of Sukhumvit to shift these items endlessly, usually to visitors new to Bangkok who haven’t been overexposed to what are mostly gimmicks. We reckon most people buy at least 1 thing from the list, or perhaps several. After all, what is a souvenir anyway, except something to fill up your attic and catch the dust – these are 10 of the best.
- Damnoen Saduak Floating Market Tour
- Banyan Tree's Apsara Dinner Cruise
- Vertigo & Moon Bar Rooftop Dining
- Ayutthaya Ancient Capital Tour with River Cruise
- Shangri-La Hotel's Buffet Dinner Cruise
- Bridge on the River Kwai & Historic Railway Tour
- Siam Niramit Dinner Show
- Calypso Bangkok Cabaret Show
- Chao Phraya River Dinner Cruise
- Grand Palace & Emerald Buddha Half-Day Tour
Multicoloured pointy hats
Made of multiple rags stitched together in all the colours of the rainbow, this hat gives anyone the appearance of a classic drunk party dude, which might be fine on a Saturday night but wear it on a Monday afternoon and you will find people averting their gaze or even avoiding you in the street.
This is the classic useless souvenir nobody wants but when you see the nice old lady rubbing the stick over the frog’s back you think it’s just perfect for your auntie and uncle back home – but it’s probably not. Admittedly, the noise of the 2 pieces of wood clacking together is similar to a frog, but the similarity quickly loses its appeal.
Beer Chang singlets
This is an item of clothing James Bond would never wear. If you think of an evening suit as the height of sophistication, then a Beer Chang vest would be on the opposite end of the scale. But, at the end of the day, Thailand is a hot a country, and a loose-fitting singlet makes sense (as long as you aren’t going to a nice restaurant or rooftop bar).
The selfie stick is a long pole made specifically to clasp your smartphone to the end for when arm length photos of yourself just won’t do and you want to capture more of the scene.
It's 1 of the latest gimmicks to hit Bangkok and is a nice idea in principle, but it has the unfortunate effect of making you look a little bit vain and even more foolish to everyone in your vicinity.
Elastic flying toys
You will see these contraptions all around Khao San Road. Hawkers pull on the elastic band and shoot a winged piece of plastic high up into the air, which then floats down gently into his waiting hands. Kids are captivated by these toys, but we’ll warn you, we’ve never known them to last more than a week before breaking into pieces.
String bracelets are a curio of Khao San Road, with ever more x-rated or ludicrous statements written on the face. What started out as cheap decorations to wear have changed into crude mementos of crazy nights out in Bangkok. Needless to say, they are popular, with the price skyrocketing from 20 baht to 200 baht with some unscrupulous hawkers (Needless to say, never accept the first asking price).
Thai boxing shorts
Perfect for a few rounds in the ring or (more likely) a fancy dress party, Muay Thai boxing shorts come in all sorts of colours and the stylish Thai writing on them looks totally exotic… just don’t expect to ever wear them when you get back to your home country.
Aladdin pants are cheap, comfortable and look ridiculous – the perfect uniform for the gap year backpacker travelling Asia for the first time.
Just like the Beer Chang singlet, these low slung pants are actually functional but the designs are becoming wackier and the join between the legs lower, to the point that it looks like there’s a stowaway hiding in them.
Tuk tuks made out of a beer can
You will find these small toy tuk-tuks fashioned out of beer and soda cans in many places all over Bangkok, and each artisan keeps coming up with ways to make more and more replica vehicles, although the classic tuk-tuk is still the best.
It makes a good, cheap souvenir, although not recommended for kids due to the sharp metal edges. Just make sure you don’t squash it as they lose their shape easily.
Fake ID cards
Fake ID cards and licenses can be found for pretty much all professions and uses along Khao San Road; great for underage drinkers looking to sneak into a bar or pub, but unsettling for everyone else. Last time we saw ID cards for students, police officers and even airline pilots!