TL;DR – Same same but different.
Thailand, or better known as the Land of Smiles is an extremely popular tourist destination for Singaporeans – whether you may be heading on a relaxing beach getaway with the girls or a crazy weekend with the guys on an island in Krabi, to stay with a hill tribe family up on the cool mountains of Chiang Rai or to party, shop and eat until you drop in Bangkok. There’s just so many things that Thailand has to offer to tourists, but to make your lives easier I’ve come up with a list of things you absolutely must buy the next time you go there.
1. Elephant pants
You haven’t really “been” to Thailand unless you get yourself a pair of bohemian-chic harem pants from the night market. It’s the staple outfit choice for most backpackers because of how comfortable, airy and how versatile it is when paired with clothes.
2. Graphic Tank tops & T-shirts
Otherwise known as the Chang Beer shirts though they also have Red Bull, Singha, Starbucks and other logos, these singlets and graphic tees can easily be found in any night market or in areas populated with tourists. And more often than not, if you see bunch of Asians wearing this at Chatuchak market, they are usually Singaporeans.
3. Thai Silk Scarves
These silk scarves are the perfect souvenir gift to get for family and friends, especially if you have no idea what to get them and would like to get something practical. I particularly like the ones from Jim Thompson – which by the way, is another story in itself with his strange disappearance.
4. NaRaYa Bags
NaRaYa is a well-known local brand which sells quality, hand-made pouches and bags that come in a variety of designs and colours with their signature big bow attached on the middle of the bag. They have stores in major shopping malls around Bangkok and in the other provinces like Chiang Mai, Chonburi, Hua Hin.
5. Soap Carvings
These gorgeous and intricately carved soaps are not only beautiful to look at but are also extremely fragrant. Most tourists or locals probably buy these for decorative purposes, as gifts and not actually to use them while showering.
6. Fairy Lights
These fairy lights can be easily found at any night market or vintage market and are extremely affordable decorative pieces to add a little sparkle and dreaminess in the room. You can get the lights in a variety of shapes and colours, from flowers, cotton balls, hearts, stars and many more! Perfect for the DIY bride too.
7. Wooden Toad Instrument
These wooden toads are carved using the wood from Acacia trees and emits a croaking sound when the ridges on its back is rubbed using the stick. The Thai farmers believed that the croaking sound of the frog brought wealth and a bountiful harvest during the rainy season. This makes a great gift for little kids to play around with or for frog-hunters to lure these little amphibians out.
8. Thai Tribal Handicrafts
These handicrafts like bags, clothes, shoes, pouches, wallets, bracelets, pillow cases, hand-carved wooden ornaments, cutlery are designed and hand-made by the ethnic tribal people of Thailand namely the Akha, Karen, Lisu, Hmong, Lahu, Yao and Kayan. The handicrafts are their main source of income and are intricately made with a unique design for each item.
9. Handmade Sa Paper Umbrella
These umbrellas are made from a natural, handmade and durable paper that have been produced in Thailand for over centuries. They can be displayed as a decorative piece at home or if you’re daring enough it can actually be used outdoors! #OOTD idea?
10. Handmade Coin Pouches
Get your hands on one of these extremely affordable and unique handmade coin pouches which would make an awesome souvenir to remember your trip or a really practical gift!
11. Thai Triangle Pillows
People who have traveled to Thailand would have at least seen this traditional all-purpose triangular cushion before. It can be unfolded out to be used as a lounger, a leaning cushion or even a spare bed. Traditionally, these triangular cushions are stuffed with organic fibre (called kapok in Thai) or straw.
12. Aromatherapy Candles
These adorable scented aromatherapy candles and incense will not only make your room smell amazing and also relax your senses. They make ideal and highly aromatic gifts to take home for family or friends.
13. Thai Vintage Costume Jewellery
Make your way through the day or night markets and you’ll definitely spot vendors selling varieties of vintage costume jewellery. These are mostly handmade and crafted by local Thai jewellery makers.
14. Poy Sian Inhaler
These Poy-Sian inhalers seem to be very popular among locals (and it’s not just the older generation we are talking about) and tourists which is known to be the cheapest and quickest remedy for relieving blocked noses, headaches and vertigo. It comes with the nasal inhaler stick on one side and a camphor-eucalyptus balm oil on the other.
15. Snail White Products
If you come to Thailand and walk into any pharmacy or cosmetic store, you will definitely see shelves of Snail White products everywhere. The locally produced Snail White products are supposedly formulated with actual snail secretion to ensure efficacy and results. It is said to re-hydrate the skin, keeping it firm, reducing wrinkles and making the person look more youthful. Who doesn’t want to be forever young?
16. Bath and Bloom Products
Bath and bloom is a local brand that is committed to producing bath and shower soaps, cleansers, treatment oils and scented oils from natural organic ingredients. The products showcase typical Thai ingredients like lemongrass, jasmine, mango, rose and coconut.
17. Organic Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is highly-versatile edible oil that is known to have many health benefits and uses, which include but are not limited to improving digestion, boost your energy, hair care, skin care and providing immunity against various diseases and infections.
18. Fruit Soap
These authentic handmade fruit soaps don’t just look like fruits but also smell exactly like them! They are made from a special formula that includes the juice-extracts of the actual fruit. There’s a huge selection of fruits to choose from like mangosteen, watermelon, apple, durian, pineapple and many more!
19. Mookata Grill Pan
Last year, Mookata or the Thai-style barbecue grill was a huge hit with Singaporeans with lots of new restaurants popping up all around Singapore. If you can’t get enough of this unique Thai-style barbecue, why don’t you just buy the pan back and have endless barbecue parties in the comfort of your own home? Problem solved.
20. Mama noodles
If you can’t get enough of Indomie or Nissin noodles, then you must try MAMA noodles which is a household name for instant noodles in Thailand. Tom Yum and Thai Green Curry would definitely have to be the two most popular flavours and are best eaten with a crispy fried egg on top. They come in tiny, portable packets that can be easily packed into the suitcase.
21. Koh Kae Peanuts
Koh Kae peanuts have become an iconic Thai snack that is enjoyed by both adults and children because of its distinctive colourful packaging, addictive flavours and crunchiness. There are an assortment of 14 flavours, ranging from their original coconut cream to Tom Yum to wasabi green peas.
22. Dried Thai Spice Packets
These individually pre-packed dried spices are especially handy for budding chefs who might want to impress their family or their date with a 100% authentic Tom Yum soup with dried spices and herbs flown direct from Thailand. You can find different packages for a variety of Thai soups or curries.
23. Sweet Crispy Rice Crackers
These deliciously, crispy Thai sweet treats are also known as “Khao Taen”, which are essentially made from sticky rice, some watermelon juice, white sesame seeds and cane sugar – mixed, cooked, deep fried and seasoned.
24. Thai Tea Mix
Last year, Singaporeans went crazy for Cha Yen or Thai Milk Tea with tons of stores popping up selling this popular Thai drink. This is Thailand’s most famous Thai Milk Tea mix and they have just launched their own soft serve. While you can’t bring that delicious ice cream back from Bangkok, you can buy the mix back and make yourself some creamy cha yen in minutes!
25. Dried Fruits
Thailand is the land of some of the most exotic, fresh and flavoursome fruits. There are many shops in markets and grocery stores selling dried fruits like kiwis, cranberries, longans, mango, durians, prunes and many more. It’s definitely a healthier alternative for people who enjoy snacking.
26. Tao Kae Noi Seaweed
Tao Kae Noi is an extremely addictive crispy seaweed snack that comes in a huge variety of flavours like Tom Yum goong, spicy grilled squid, chicken larb and many more! It is extremely popular among the locals both young and old.
27. Lays Thailand
The Lays chips found in Thailand are completely different from the ones found in Singapore. The ones in Thailand are creatively packaged and come in a variety of unique flavours like salmon-cream cheese, hot-spicy crab, grilled scallops with garlic butter, spicy chili squid and laarb. Yum!
28. Larb Flavour Pretz
Try this highly addictive Pretz flavour that is inspired by the Thai-style meat salad called Larb. You’ll definitely be buying boxes and boxes of it home for sure!
29. Mango Pocky
Check out this adorably packaged, Thailand-exclusive Mango Pocky! If you’re a mango-lover and enjoy snacking on Pocky, then you’ll definitely love this new fruity flavour.
We have been alerted that this Mango Pocky is now available in Singapore so let’s keep a lookout for the durian-flavoured Kit Kats that Thailand is making a bid for.
30. Mango Sticky Rice Macaron
Did you know that you can now get the popular mango sticky rice in the form of a macaron? A number of dessert cafes sell them but I particularly love those from The Mandarin Cake Shop!