By Ron and Caryl Krannich, Ph.Ds
“You learn more about a place you are visiting when Impact is pointing the way.”
—The Washington Post
“…Myanmar and Thailand have a wealth of culture, shopping, and attractions, all of which are documented in this thorough guide….It is also comprehensive enough to be used as an all-around guidebook, with listings of restaurants and accommodations, maps, and reviews of sights.”
“AN ABSOLUTE ‘MUST HAVE’ for international travelers….zeros in on exactly what the money-conscious tourist in Thailand needs to know.”
—Midwest Library Review
Welcome to two of the world’s most fascinating and seductive places. Going far beyond the standard eat-sleep-sightsee-history-culture-budget approach to travel, The Treasures and Pleasures of Thailand and Myanmar introduces you to the richly rewarding world of travel-shopping.
Designed for discerning travelers who enjoy exploring roads less traveled, meeting local talent, and discovering the best a country has to offer visitors, this guidebook literally takes you on an adventure of a lifetime. Indeed, it may well change your life as it has hundreds of others who have used the authoritative books in the Impact Guides series.
Charming, colorful, and chaotic, exotic Thailand and Myanmar are filled with unique treasures and pleasures that will touch your life forever. Visit these neighboring Southeast Asian countries and you’ll discover intriguing lands of exceptionally friendly and gracious people, talented craftspeople, bustling cities and towns, picturesque countrysides, idyllic beaches and villages, colorful festivals, exciting cuisine, gorgeous hotels and resorts, fun activities, and fascinating cultures.
Thailand and Myanmar also are shopping paradises where you can literally “shop til you drop” and still want to come back for more.
Representing the first “how-to” travel-shopping guide for these destinations, the book unravels in enormous detail the many hidden treasures and pleasures of Thailand and Myanmar.
Focusing on the “best of the best” of Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and nine other locations in Thailand, as well as Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, and Inle Lake in Myanmar, two seasoned travel-shoppers explore key markets, shops, factories, department stores, shopping centers, studios, and homes for acquiring quality arts, antiques, furniture, jewelry, textiles, clothes, handicrafts, and home decorative items.
Combining great shopping with fine restaurants, hotels, sightseeing, and entertainment, this insightful book represents the ultimate lifestyle adventure. Like a personal local guide, the book introduces you to quality products, outstanding buys, and talented, interesting, and friendly people.
Special highlights of this guidebook include:
- 24 key shopping rules – 14 for Thailand, 10 for Myanmar
- 12 rules for effectively bargaining
- Tips for buying gems, jewelry, and tailoring services
- Savvy shipping methods and shippers
- Scams, rip-offs, and commission games
- Popular cosmetic surgery services in Bangkok
- Approaching “politically incorrect” Myanmar
- Fortune tellers in Yangon to discover your “good luck”
- Shopping for illegal goods and using the black market
Jam-packed with seasoned strategies, tips, advice, and detailed contact information complete with the names, addresses, phone/fax numbers, e-mails, websites, maps, and photos of the best places to shop, dine, and relax this rich and reliable resource will become your special passport to places that will forever enrich your life!
Foreword by William Warren, a leading authority on Thai history and culture. 11 maps, 39 color photos, and 185 black and white photos. 520 pages. 2004.
THE AUTHORS: Ron and Caryl Krannich, Ph.Ds, are two of America’s leading travel and business writers who have written more than 100 books. They regularly appear on TV and radio and are featured in major newspapers, magazines, and online sites.
Chapter 1 – Welcome to Seductive Thailand and Myanmar
Chapter 2 – Know Before You Go
Chapter 3 – Prepare for Your Adventure
Chapter 4 – Arrival and Survival
Chapter 5 – Shopping, Bargaining, and Shipping Rules
Chapter 6 – Major Shopping Choices
Chapter 7 – Gems, Jewelry, and Tailoring Tips
Chapter 8 – Welcome to Bangkok
Chapter 9 – Where to Shop
Chapter 10 – In Search of Quality
Chapter 11 – Enjoying Your Stay
Chapter 12 – Discovering Chiang Mai
Chapter 13 – Beyond Bangkok and Chiang Mai
Chapter 14 – Myanmar
Experiencing the treasures and pleasures of Thailand primarily involves making trips to shopping centers, hotel shopping arcades, department stores, shophouses, factories, markets, towns, and villages located in and around Thailand’s two major cities – Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
These are the country’s major centers for fashion, design, production, marketing, transportation, trade, and communications. Here you also will find most of Thailand’s best travel amenities – fine hotels, restaurants, entertainment, and tourist sights.
At the same time, you will discover some unique shopping opportunities in small towns and villages where you can purchase local products either not available in the city shops or less expensive than elsewhere. Most of these towns and villages are located in the northern region within a one- to four-hour drive of Chiang Mai.
You will quickly discover the best quality shopping is found in Bangkok and, to a lesser extent, Chiang Mai. Indeed, most other nonrural communities in Thailand are relatively small and nondescript provincial towns. Some of these places attract visitors to annual tourist festivals.
Except for several popular resorts located south and southeast of Bangkok, few other cities can sustain more than a few hours of interest for most travelers.
Bangkok, a bustling city of nearly 9 million people, is a shopper’s paradise. Stroll through the Emporium, Gaysorn Plaza, Peninsula Plaza, River City Shopping Complex, Central World Plaza (formerly the World Trade Center), Silom Galleria, the Promenade, and OP Place and you will discover some of the best quality shopping in all of Asia.
Shop after shop offer exquisite jewelry, clothes, antiques, art, and home decorative items for discerning shoppers with an eye for quality.
Venture into the Chatuchak Weekend Market, Suan Lum Night Bazaar, Pratunam, Banglampoo, Chinatown, and the vendor stalls lining Patpong, Silom, and Sukhumvit roads, and you will find great bargains on inexpensive clothes, handicrafts, souvenirs, and copy watches and leather goods.
The city brims with thousands of shops that will literally keep you busy shopping for days.
While chaotic Bangkok may not be everyone’s favorite city, although it now ranks near the top in many recent travel surveys (ranked the second favorite destination in Asia/Pacific, after Sydney, in the November 2003 reader survey issue of Conde Nast Traveler, it does offer wonderful opportunities and amenities unmatched by any other city in the country as well as in Asia.
As some old Thai hands occasionally sum it up, “Bangkok may not be Thailand, but thank God it’s close!” Despite its often unsavory and chaotic reputation, we still love vibrant and colorful Bangkok.
Stay at one of the many luxury hotels along the Chao Phraya River and you, too, may fall in love with this charming ugly duckling of a city!
Chiang Mai, Thailand’s second largest city of nearly 250,000 people, is located approximately 700 kilometers north of Bangkok. The size of this city says a lot about the rule of Bangkok vis-a-vis the rest of Thailand as well as indicates where you may want to expend most of your travel energy.
Bangkok, which is nearly 50 times the size of the next largest city, Chiang Mai, represents one of the world’s most extreme cases of urban primacy.
Chiang Mai is a city of legendary charm and beauty. It is to Thailand what Bali is to Indonesia – a truly unique cultural center, which is also one of Asia’s major cottage industry centers for producing handcrafted items.
Known for its gentle and friendly people, beautiful scenery, pleasant winter climate, diverse attractions, and a major staging area for nearby adventure travel forays, especially trekking and eco-tours, Chiang Mai is a shopper’s paradise for antiques and locally produced, as well as imported Southeast Asian, handcrafted products that make lovely home decorative items: woodcarvings, textiles, furniture, silver, basketry, ceramics (celadon), lacquerware, and umbrellas.
Explore the small shops and stalls in the downtown Night Bazaar, shopping centers, and shophouses as well as in the many factory shops along nearby Chiang Mai-Sankamphaeng Road and adjacent to the town of Hang Dog, and you will leave Chiang Mai with a treasure-trove of lovely handcrafted items at relatively inexpensive prices.
Indeed, you will be shopping in many of the same places dealers from Bangkok and abroad come to buy items for their shops. If you shop Chiang Mai right, you can save 50-200 percent on some of the same items that appear in the shops of Bangkok.
Numerous other places in Thailand also offer wonderful treasures and pleasures. Chiang Rai, Lampang, Lamphun, Maesai, and Mae Hong Son in the North; Phuket, Krabi, and Koh Samui in the South; and Ayutthaya, Hua Hin, and Pattaya near Bangkok remain some of our favorite destinations. While great for sightseeing and enjoying the outdoors, these places offer some limited shopping opportunities.
If this is your first visit to Thailand and you have limited time, we recommend spending most of your time in Bangkok and Chiang Mai. These two places represent Thailand’s finest treasures and pleasures.
If you want to spend some time relaxing on the beach, we recommend including Phuket and Koh Samui in your travel plans.
Yangon has a few very good shops and markets that are well worth visiting. If you rent a car and driver by the hour (very inexpensive at US$2-3 per hour), you should be able to cover most of the places in two long days or three leisurely days. Here you’ll find lots of shops and markets offering Myanmar antiques, art, crafts, furniture, textiles, and jewelry.
Shopping in Yangon, as well as most of Myanmar, follows similar rules as the ones identified for Thailand. However, there are a few very important “Myanmar rules” that can turn your search for treasures into a set of shopping problems and headaches should you fail to properly observe them.
Given the fact that Myanmar has operated for so many years under a “Burmese way to socialism” economy, capitalism as you may know it takes on a different form in Myanmar.
Above all, this is a fundamental “cash and carry” economy where the buyer should beware, or at least be aware of potential problems and shopping frustrations.
Our ten “special shopping rules” for Myanmar:
- Expect to encounter price uncertainty, including changing agreed-upon prices and reselling your purchases from under you.
- Be prepared for a “cash and carry” economy, where cash – preferably U.S. dollars – is always king.
- Make no assumptions about local packing and shipping capabilities – they could be fatal.
- Expect to encounter disappointing designs and quality and occasional misrepresentation and outright fraud.
- Expect to frequently shop in residential areas.
- Plan to shop in factories and studios as well as take photos of the production process and arrange wholesale purchases.
- Expect guides and drivers to take a 20 to 30 percent “commission” from shops they take you to.
- Expect to get good deals on items found in small crowded and dusty shops operated by owners and their family members.
- Never prematurely judge a shop by its size or initial displays.
- Anticipate encountering quirky, eccentric, and questionable characters when shopping – experiences that should raise red flags as well as warn you to keep a firm hand on your wallet!
PRAISE FOR THIS BOOK
“The Treasures and Pleasures of Thailand and Myanmar is an absolute ‘must-have’ for international travelers looking to obtain quality goods or souvenirs from Thailand at a reasonable price. Intended as a supplementary resource and not a general purpose travel guide, The Treasures and Pleasures of Thailand and Myanmar focuses specifically upon obstacles, negotiation techniques, and tips and tricks for those interested in shopping for everything from gemstones to textiles to artworks and much more. From learning how to walk away from the ‘touts’ that try to lure tourists into overpriced stores (overpriced because the store must pay the tout a 10% to 40% commission for the service!), to a step-by-step introduction to the art of haggling, to knowing how to avoid paying thousands of dollars for what might be a cheap knock-off gemstone, to why even the locals may not always obtain the best deals (some shopkeepers can give tourists a lower price than their repeat customers – who would expect the same bargain every time they walked through the door) to dealing with cultural differences and much more. The Treasures and Pleasures of Thailand and Myanmar zeroes in on exactly what the money-conscious tourist in Thailand needs to know.”
—Midwest Book Review