Thai market stalls, craft centers, and specialty shops offer a wide and tempting range of souvenirs and gifts. Handicrafts are particularly good buys, and there are few regions of the country without their own specialty. In the south you can find delicately worked niello ware, pewter, and shadow puppets; colorful hill-tribe artifacts, lacquerware, and silver jewelry are made in the North; the Northeast is famed for its silk and cushions. The widest selection is available in major cities such as Bangkok and Chiang Mai.
Traditional Masks and Puppets
Thailand has a rich tradition of masked dance and puppetry, and although performances are becoming increasingly rare, masks and puppets make evocative souvenirs. Most depict characters from the Ramakien and include huge leather nang yai figures, smaller nang talung shadow puppets, hoon krabok marionettes, and the smaller hoon lek . Puppets can be bought in the South as well as at markets such as Chatuchak in Bangkok.
Silk is without doubt the best known Thai fabric and probably the number-one buy for visitors. It comes in an enormous range of styles, weights, and designs, both ancient and modern, including tie-dyed mud mee. Thai cotton goods are also excellent – pha sin skirts and triangular mawn sam liam cushions often feature complex patterns. The hill tribes are known for their bold, geometric fabric designs. In the South, batik sarongs and baggy fishermen’s trousers are widely available.