Cheap, cheerful and a touch of Isaan-chic. These trinkets just scream ‘Thailand’, and make a colorful touch to even the dreariest of interiors (or, you know, you could also use them for their intended purpose). At less than a 100 baht a piece, it’s hard to not pick up a few to bring back home. Over the past few years, we’ve collected way too many – here are our favorites.
1 Chicken bowl (koey oua). Introduced to the Thais by Cantonese immigrants, these hand-painted chicken bowls come in many sizes. Around THB 10. 2 Dragon watering can. Mass produced, but oh-so-cute. Around THB 50. 3 Bamboo hand fan. Very, very Thai. Available in a multitude of colors and patterns. Around THB 60. 4 Aluminum fish platter Used to keep fish dishes warm – but also works pretty well as a catch-all for keys, loose coins, and cigarettes. Around THB 100. 5 Blue and white ceramics. Classic Chinese-style ceramics found all over Thailand – this mass-produced design is used on everything from soup bowls to sauce dishes. Around THB 20. 6 Three Horses tea. Produced by the old-Town Sam Mah Tea Leaf Company. The tea is probably pretty good, but it’s the gorgeous packaging that steals the show. 7 Khanom Thuay bowl. Teeny-tiny bowls used for serving coconut custard in bite-size portions on the street. One can never have enough. Around THB 5.
8 Bamboo baskets. Cheap, multi-purpose and durable. Around THB 20. 9 Oil lamp. Made from recycled cans, not two of them are ever the same. Around THB 50. 10 Vintage style enamelware. One of our favorite Thai homeware items. These colorful plates will cheer up even the dreariest dinner table. Around THB 100. 11 Five Pagodas Brand ointment. This white balm probably works wonders on all kinds of ailments, but it’s the cool packaging that does the trick for us. 12 Brass wire skimmer. Used for hot pots, deep frying, and other ‘cooking stuff’… we just think it looks cool on the cupboard. Also comes in bigger sizes with bamboo handles. Around THB 50. 13 Painted straw hat. The perfect accessory if you’re going for that Isaan-chic look. However, we personally use it as a pretty cool wall decoration. Around THB 50. 14 Two-tone dinner plates. The kind of stuff you’d pick up at Urban Outfitters for $5 a pop. Nobody will believe that you only paid about 10% of that price. Around THB 20.
Where to find it
From pushcarts on the street to kitchenware shops at virtually every outdoor market, you’ll find these items all around Thailand. Look out for storefronts piled high with pots, pans and a wide range of utensils and you know you’ve struck gold. But you know how it works: once you actually start looking for it, there is no way you’re going to find one, so here are some of our favorite spots:
Talat Khlong Toey — Bangkok’s largest fresh market in the Khlong Toey district. Worth a visit for the insane range of cheap fresh fruits, vegetables, and meat, but also home to a handful of kitchenware shops selling the items mentioned above. We picked up number 4, 7 and 14 from there.
Talat Phlu — You’ll need to make a trip across the river, but Talad Phlu is chock-full of local charm and some of the best street food in town. Along the railroad tracks near the train station, you’ll find a number of shops selling a wide range of colorful bamboo baskets, hats, and other knick-knacks.
Phra Khanong — Phra Kanong is often overlooked, but so worth a visit. Discover amazing Burmese cuisine in ‘little Burma’, hidden inside the Phra Khanong market (follow the path lined with cheap clothing until you reach ‘MONA Burmese Kitchen’). After lunch, pick up some of the goodies we highlighted above in the small market under the bridge near the khlong. Simply follow Sukhumvit Road in the direction of On Nut until you reach an overpass. We picked up number 2 and 13 here.
Chatuchak Weekend Market — There’s no need to visit Chatuchak Market if you just want to pick up the items from this article (there’s plenty of other places to find these), but if you’re making it to here anyway, you’ll be able to find a few. Check out our guide to Chatuchak Market to find clear directions to our favorite stall for Thai enamelware and bamboo baskets.
Chinatown — The streets branching off Yaowarat Road are a goldmine of Thai-Chinese trinkets. For amazing ceramics and enamelware (such as number 1, 5 and 10), check out the various stores on Soi Plaeng Nam. The beautiful old-style ‘flagship store’ of the Sam Mah Tea Leaf Company (6) is also located in this area (on Lamphun Chai Road) and is worth a quick visit. If you’re in the area, be sure to drop by at one of these Bangkok Chinatown hotspots.
✨ Also check: 10 unique Thailand souvenirs for design lovers