Many tourists are drawn to Bangkok for its relatively cheap silk, gems, and tailor-made clothes. But there are many other goods worth seeking out: quality silverware, fine porcelain, and handmade leather goods—all at prices well below those in western shops. The already reduced prices can often be haggled down even further—haggling is mainly reserved for markets, but shopkeepers will let you know if they're willing to discount, especially if you start walking away.
Don't be fooled by a tuk-tuk driver offering to take you to a shop. Shop owners pay drivers a commission to lure in unsuspecting tourists. Patronizing reputable dealers will help you avoid getting scammed on big-ticket items like jewelry .
Thai antiques and old images of the Buddha require a special export license; check out the Thai Board of Investment's Web site at www.boi.go.th/english for rules on exporting and applications to do so.
The city's most popular shopping areas are along Silom Road and Surawong Road, where you can find quality silk; Sukhumvit Road, which is rich in leather goods; Yaowarat Road in Chinatown, where gold trinkets abound; and along Oriental Lane and Charoen Krung (New Road), where there are many antiques shops. The shops around Siam Square and at the World Trade Center attract both Thais and foreigners. Peninsula Plaza, across from the Anantara Siam Bangkok hotel in the embassy district, has upscale shops. If you're knowledgeable about fabric, you can find bargains at the textile merchants who compete along Pahuraht Road in Chinatown and Pratunam Road off Phetchaburi Road. You can even take the raw material to a tailor and have something made.