Apart from just lazing around the beach and soaking up the tropical sun, or heading out in the evening and exploring the crazy and debauched nightlife that Phuket is so famous for, many people like nothing more than to whip out the credit cards and go on a well deserved spending spree. And why not, especially if you’re on holiday and want to splash out a bit.
Whether you are shopping for clothing, perfumes, electronics or jewellery, nowadays there is more than enough choice in the various convenient malls that have sprung up all over Phuket during recent years. The modern, air-conditioned shopping malls on the island provide the perfect antidote and haven from the hectic bartering, pushing and shoving that’s de rigeur in the street stalls and fresh markets. Most of the goods on offer in the shopping malls are good quality branded originals to boot, and you won’t come across the same quantity of fake goods that you can find everywhere at the beachside stalls.
Prices for items such as clothes cost considerably less in Phuket than you might find back home and in most western countries. Furthermore, tourists can obtain a discount card and reclaim back the 7% VAT tax when leaving Thailand, such as at the main airports. Make sure that you complete all the necessary paperwork at the point of sale and keep the receipts for any items that you buy. This means that, apart from various types of luxury goods, many items can be picked up at discounted prices. Furthermore, many mall shops hold regular sales with impressive discounts of up to 50% on occasion.
The fabulous thing about Phuket’s large malls are that as well as being great places to shop with plenty of consumer choice, they tend to have decent entertainment and dining options too. Several of the main shopping malls have cinemas, bowling alleys and even a nightclub, as well as a wealth of restaurants, bars and relaxing venues in which to chill out. The main malls in particular such as Jungceylon in Patong Beach and Central Festival in Phuket Town attract thousands of shoppers each day and are a great place to shop and hang out in the evening. So go on, blow the cobwebs off your wallet and check out the malls and department stores we’ve listed below.
Big C Supercentre
The main Big C supermarket store is located just outside of Phuket Town, just down the road from the perennially popular Tesco Lotus hypermarket, and is one of the main grocery supermarkets on the island. The store is rather large and stocks a very wide range of products at competitive (and mostly fixed) prices. If you are looking for cheap clothes, cosmetics, toiletries and of course any type of food, then you can’t go far wrong with Big C both for price and breadth of choice.
As for the shops, there are dozens of mobile phone and computer outlets plus souvenirs, games and Thai handicrafts on sale. Among the other things to indulge in are the food court and there’s even a children’s play area to occupy the kids, a ten pin bowling alley, and an events section which frequently holds sales for books, furniture and other items.
Open: 09.00-23.00, daily
Address: 72 Charoemprakiat Road, Phuket Town
Tel: +66 (0) 76 249 444-58
Central Festival Phuket
Central Festival is probably the granddaddy of all the malls in Phuket and quite a recent and welcome addition to the island. Located just outside Phuket Town on the main bypass road, there is plenty of parking but you can also just take a local bus from most destinations for a reasonable price (but try to avoid the rip-off tuk tuks). Central Festival is certainly one of the most enjoyable places in which to spend a spare day or two of intensive shopping and entertainment. The mall contains a profusion of shops and several differently themed zones, and it can all be experienced in air-conditioned comfort so is a great way to keep cool when it’s hot (which is most of the time). Central stores have all the main international and local brands, plus there is an excellent tourist information centre.
The first floor (or the ground floor according to the British) has dozens of fashion brands such as Levi’s, Lacoste and Zara, as well as the Central food hall, several fast food joints and coffee shops, not to mention the Central Department store. Floor contains numerous banks and more ATMS than you can shake a stick at, and more fashion and sport brands including a Manchester United shop. The excellent SFX Coliseum Cinema (see our guide in the nightlife section) is based on Floor 3 as well as some great restaurants such as Fuji, MK, Sizzler, Yayoi and more. The Supersports store which has more sporting goods and equipment than you can imagine. To treat yourself to some health and beauty treatments, there’s an impressive array of skin clinics and hair centres located on Floor 4. Like most shopping malls in Thailand, Central also has its fair share of IT and mobile phone booths trying to grab your attention with all the latest gadgets.
Open: 11.00-21.30 (weekdays), 11.00-22.00 (weekends)
Address: 75-75 Moo 5, Vichit Songkram Road, Phuket Town
Tel: +66 (0) 76 291 111
Just over the road from Central Festival on Charoemprakiat Road, HomeWorks is a one-stop shop for anything and everything related to home improvement. There are two floors containing all kinds of paints, tiles, lighting, fittings and fixtures, as well as home and office furniture. For anyone that wants to get their hands dirty and engage in some painting and decorating or simply spruce up their home, this is an excellent place to start. There are also several other pleasant shops close by so if you’re bored with the home and office products you can check out the restaurants and stores in the area.
Open: 10.00-22.00, daily
Address: 79 Moo 5, Vichit Songkram Road, Phuket Town (opposite Central Festival)
Tel: +66 (0) 76 608 000
Index Living Mall
This rather chic furniture and shopping mall chain is not far from Big C, just a few hundred metres further north on Charoemprakiat Road. The furniture selection is modern and the quality is also fairly good. Index stocks all sorts of household goods such as bedding and kitchenware, dining room furniture and lighting, as well as various decorative items. If you’re feeling peckish you can always pop into the restaurant for a beer.
Open: 10.00-21.00, daily
Address: 76 Moo 5, Charoemprakiat Road, Phuket Town
Tel: +66 (0) 76 239 541-9
Based centrally in Patong Beach and just over the road from where the action is in Bangla Road, Jungceylon (correctly pronounced as Junk Ceylon) is conveniently positioned as the island’s premier shopping and entertainment complex for a large number of tourists visiting the island. Due to its excellent location and fantastic range of shops, restaurants and entertainment, it’s the logical choice for anybody that wants to do some quality shopping between trips to the beach. On a hot day you’ll be glad that it’s air-conditioned.
The mall is impressively big and well designed, with a decent selection of famous name stores and international brands. There’s a Carrefour supermarket and a Big C Extra for all your groceries and food needs, plus a Robinsons department store. Food wise, the Sino Phuket zone downstairs boasts numerous bars and restaurants serving food from all corners of the world. There is also an inexpensive food court in the lower level.
Outdoors, a pleasant courtyard area called the Port contains a full sized replica Chinese junk boat that plays backdrop to a nightly water fountain and light show (at 7pm and 9pm every day) as well as the odd fashion show and other special events. Besides the international clothing, perfume, sports and electronics brands, dozens of small independent stalls are scattered around selling items such as jewellery, cosmetics, and electronics.
Besides the shops, a fairly recent addition to the nightlife scene in Patong is Famous nightclub which is situated on the rooftop, and seems to attract a rather upmarket crowd. The entertainment options at Jungceylon are rounded off with a fantastic 10 lane bowling alley, a modern cinema which shows the latest movies in English and Thai, a 4D motion ride cinema, the Mario Land arcade and game zone, and a 700-seater capacity theatre which is home to the Joe Conrad magic show.
Open: 10.00-23.00, daily (cinema until 01.00)
Address: Rat-U-Thit 200 Pee Road, Patong Beach
Tel: +66 (0) 76 600 111
Ocean Shopping Mall
Ocean is a smallish shopping centre that is located almost next door to Robinsons on Tilok-U-Thit 1 Road in central Phuket Town. There are some good quality items available at reasonable prices such as clothing, souvenirs, music and movies. There is also a multiplex cinema, a ten pin bowling alley, games and some restaurants. It’s not quite in the same league as Jungceylon or Central Festival but it’s quite a convenient option for anyone in that part of town.
Address: Tilok-U-Thit 1 Road, Talat Yai, Phuket Town
Tel: +66 (0) 76 223 057-8
Ocean Plaza Bangla
This two storey shopping centre is slap bang in the middle of Patong Beach on the busy Bangla Road, which is known more for its nightlife than for shopping. Nevertheless, Ocean Plaza does represent good value for money especially for items such as clothing and shoes, of which there is a very wide selection. Dozens of tiny shops in the mall sell all kinds of everyday clothing, and there is a decent sports shop upstairs with original name brands on offer. When there is a sale on, you can pick up some real bargains. A ten pin bowling alley is based on the top floor and there is a supermarket downstairs.
Address: 31 Bangla Road, Patong
Tel: +66 (0) 76 341 163-6
Ocean Plaza Patong
Another branch of Ocean can be found in the south of Patong Beach on the main beach road near Soi Holiday Inn. It’s another fairly small department store with numerous individual little shops inside. There is a decent clothes store at in the rear section and prices are low too. To get there, just keep going south along the beach road and look for the store on the left hand side before the road bends around to the left.
Address: 48-48/1 Thaweewong Road (Beach Road), Patong
Tel: +66 (0) 76 341 297-8
Phuket HomePro Village
On the way from Big Buddha to Promthep Cape you might come across the nicely designed HomePro Village which includes a large home improvement store (the HomePro chain) and many other shops such as Toys ‘R’ Us, Villa Market, some coffee shops and restaurants including KFC. HomePro Village opened its doors in early 2009 and seems to have done a fairly good job at attracting people in the area to this part of the island. Villa Market in particular is very popular with expats, as they stock a wide range of items which are normally quite hard to obtain elsewhere.
Open: 09.00-21.00, daily
Address: 61/10 Moo 10, Chalong
Tel: +66 (0) 76 602 399
The Plaza Surin
Not far from Surin Beach a little north of Patong, the Plaza is a classy little shopping mall with a range of boutiques selling designer clothes, luxury furniture, Thai silk, sculptures, jewellery, antiques, arts and crafts. The stores include VG21 Gallery, Candere Gallery, Dedon, Andara Boutique, Lamont, Fine 9 Design, Lola, and Ginger amongst others. Between them, the shops have a diverse selection of fine and luxury wares, and the setting is pleasant.
Address: 5/50 Moo 3, Cherng Talay, Thalang
Tel: +66 (0) 76 271 241
Premium Outlet Phuket
The Premium outlet village opened in mid 2009 and has become one of the latest additions to the vast array of venues in Phuket where you can buy inexpensive branded clothing. The buildings are styled much like outlets you might come across in the US and elsewhere, but it’s probably not worth a special trip unless you happen to be in the local area. However, there are a few bargains available if you look hard enough.
Each brand name is represented by its own store, but you have to walk outdoors to get between shops which can be tiresome on a hot day or when it’s raining. Labels such as Reebok, Nike, Levis, Adidas, Pierre Cardin and Quicksilver are sold at prices quite a bit below what you can find abroad, but it’s probably just as easy to pick up a bargain at Central and enjoy the air-conditioning.
Open: 10.00-21.00, daily
Address: Charoemprakiat Road (a few minutes from the Koh Keaw traffic lights)
One of the most popular department stores in Phuket Town is the 5-storey Robinsons, which isn’t that far from the old town and has as great range of international and local brands, plus smaller stalls that sell cheap clothing and shoes. The ground floor contains the excellent Tops Supermarket where you can buy a wide variety of day to day and imported items and foodstuffs, as well as ATMs and a bank. Each floor has its own theme such as clothing, perfume, or sportswear. Upstairs, the food court is a good place to find cheap and delicious Thai cuisine. Various counters tend to have fairly generous discounts and sales at certain times of the year.
Open: 10.30-22.00, daily
Address: 36 Tilok-U-Thit Road, Phuket Town
Tel: +66 (0) 76 256 500-12
Tesco Lotus is owned by the British supermarket chain Tesco, and now has quite an established presence in Thailand with many stores all over the country. Located on Charoemprakiat Road (the main bypass road) just north of Big C, Tesco is a large hypermarket which carries a comprehensive selection of everyday goods, which tend to be of a higher quality than can be found at Big C. The range of different foods such as tropical fruits, meats, vegetables, and bread is excellent, and it’s quite enjoyable simply checking out the weird and exotic fruit they stock. You can even select a durian (the big, spiky and smelly fruit) and they’ll slice it up for you. There is a good toy department and an electronics section with all the usual items such as TVs, DVD players and various white goods. A food court upstairs is the place to go for inexpensive Thai food after the shopping has tired you out. Tesco’s prices are usually quite competitive and it’s a favourite place to do grocery shopping particularly for the expats.
There are several branches of the smaller Tesco Talat stores in Phuket. One is in Chao Fah and the other in Rawai. Both of these stores open daily between 6am and 10pm.
Open: 08.00-23.00, daily
Address: 104 Moo 5, Charoemprakiat Rama 9 Road, Phuket Town
Tel: +66 (0) 76 254 888-912