Thailand is not just a mecca for bargain hunters but also for luxury shopping.by Rachel Ross
- Thailand is bursting with talented artists and antique dealerships. You will always be able to find the perfect piece.
- Even independent stores will provide a shipping service, so don’t worry about the logistics of fitting a bear-sized sculpture into your suitcase.
- Prices in Thailand tend to be lower than back home, and so treating yourself and others to big purchases is guilt-free spending!
History in beauty, and beauty in history
Although it has gone through different periods throughout history, traditional Thai art is chiefly composed of Buddhist depictions and scenes from the Indian epics. Paintings and carvings generally immerse the viewer into a flowing story such as the Ramayana, and antique sculpture is often Buddhist in nature.
Immerse yourself, literally, within Thai art history while discovering the streets and buildings of Khlong Bang Luang’s aptly named Artist Village. This laidback sanctuary reveals more of Thailand’s remarkable architectural history alongside galleries of antique finds and local artist creations.
First Saturday of the month? Bangkok’s Riverside Auction House is definitely worth a visit. Place a bid, or just sit back and watch a remarkable auction experience of Asia’s most beautiful antique art finds. The house is part of Bangkok’s River City complex, which, as well as holding special events and performances, possesses antique buys and restaurants with river views.
After the excitement of shouts of “sold!’ take a moment to sit down with an iced drink in some more serene atomspheres: OP Place, a building hosting two floors of independent stores, which feature luxury antique collections. You can also head down to the city’s new Art and Cultural Center. Free to enter, the complex is home to cafes, shops, and, of course, several galleries featuring an assortment of traditional and modern art. There may even be a special event or performance happening during your visit, so make sure to check!
If you’re an enthusiast for everything vintage, Bangkok’s Chatuchak Weekend Market holds everything from textiles and furniture, to sculptures and commissioned paintings. And you can also hop over Rod Fai Vintage Market for a few smaller retro finds.
Just north of Bangkok, in Nonthaburi province, lies Wat Suan Kaew: an extraordinary temple. Why extraordinary? The temple’s numerous charity and community projects are exceptional, and one particularly beautiful project involves transformation, artistry, and care. Buddhist belief is centered on the concept of rebirth and renewal: Wat Suan Kaew’s refurbishment project takes in old furniture, renovating items back into beautiful pieces that are for sale. Whether it’s a wardrobe, dresser, or stool, this furniture tells a story, and the proceeds find their way back into the community projects.
Family and community are both important aspects in Thai culture, and Chiang Mai’s art scene is a key demonstrator of these aspects. Artists, dealerships, ecological projects, and ethical businesses work in harmony to keep money circulating within the local community. The city’s Sunday Walking Street, and, to a lesser extent, the Night Market, highlight independent local artists and artwork from the Hill Tribes, in particular the unique textile designs that are woven into throws, quilts, and wall-hangings.
Introducing: up and coming artists
Fast-forward to the modern day, and contemporary art, Thai-style. Unlike many countries in the surrounding area, Thailand has a rather liberal censorship in regard to art, and so only in Thailand can we find such a unique, honest combination of traditional components entwined with modern techniques and subject matters.
Chiang Mai’s HQ Gallery strives to discover and help young artists in the north to blossom. Reaching out to talented artists in university or college education, the gallery encourages extraordinary artists to be able to continue their passion in contemporary art. In showcasing these artists before they ‘boom’, the pieces are sold at competitive rates, providing both exposure for the artists and affordable prices for buyers.
Not far from HQ, you’ll love meeting successful, independent and hard-working artist Supachet in his small Chiang Mai store and studio. If you’re lucky, he might be sat on his stool bringing one of his ideas to life on a partially painted canvas.
As well as being full of homely bits and bobs, the studio’s walls are adorned with little prints and huge masterpieces featuring his recognizable, and unique, elephant, bunny and bird designs. Vivid colors blend together in a wash of artistry that’s both charming and utterly comforting.
Can’t choose between a vintage find, an ornate antique gem, or a modern masterpiece? Sometimes, it’s nice to have an eclectic mix of everything all in one place; cutting out the traveling-around-stores middle-man.
Specializing in handcrafted pieces, Oriental Living takes pride in providing more than bespoke traditional and contemporary items, as it will also alongside you to help you to create the perfect space.
For a more casual, high-street shopping center, stop at the huge Mega Bangna complex on your way to the airport for some last minute pieces. For some serious high-end pieces, pop over to Siam Paragon’s third ‘Living and Technology’ floor. And, for an awe-dazzling amount of choices, riverfront Asiatique is a place that focuses on supporting Thai talent and providing unique designs.
Inevitably, it’s terribly easy to find yourself with décor envy when you’re wandering around your hotel lobby, or eating in a local restaurant. You may find yourself imagining that antique bookcase in your study, or the one-of-a-kind canvas in your best friend’s lounge. Home is surrounding oneself with what makes you content, and décor is an integral part of that.
Tel: 02 214 6630 – 8
When: Tues-Sun, 9 a.m.-9 p.m.
Tel: 02 105 1000
When: Sat-Sun, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Phone: +66 (0)5 381 4717-8
Phone: +66 (0)2 266 0186
When: Daily 10:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m.
When: Friday-Sunday 5 p.m.-midnight
Tel: 089 950 1329
When: Daily 11 a.m.-8 p.m. (opening and closing times vary day to day)
Tel: 02 237 0077 ext 459, 460, 647
When: Mon-Fri 9 a.m.-6 p.m.
Item viewing commences four days prior to the auction date. Check website for exact date and time each month.
Tel: 02 237 0077 to 78
When: Daily 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
Tel: 02 610 7911
When: Daily 10 a.m.-10 p.m.
When: Daily 5 p.m.-midnight
Tel: 02 105 1000
When: Daily 10 a.m.-11 p.m.
Tel: 077 247 675
Where: 424 Srisoonthorn Rd Cherngtalay, Phuket
Tel: 076 325 419
When: Daily 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Tel: 02 595 1945-7, 02 595 1444
When: Daily 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m.