The markets in Phuket are a vibrant and fun place to eat, meet friends, people-watch and also - rather unsurprisingly - shop. This is why every Saturday and Sunday the weekend market (Nakha market) in Phuket town is bursting with life and full of tourists, expats and Thais alike.
This market, like many others in Phuket, offers many of the souvenirs that are big hits with tourists; Singha vests, miniature wooden elephants, place mats, sheets and every colour of duvet cover imaginable. It also has some genuinely great locally-produced products and handmade crafts at reasonable prices... for everybody. Because although many of, but not all, these touristy, kitsch products can be found at other make-shift stalls dotted around the island, they can not be found at these prices.
We love Phuket T-Shirts
Market vendors typically sell products at a drastically reduced price compared to street-stall vendors, a price that is more often than not the same regardless of whether the prospective punter is Thai or foreign. This is just one of the many positive aspects of shopping at a 'real' Phuket market and although a little haggling and bargaining may get the punter 10 or 20 baht off, it will not be, nor need it be, huge amounts saved from the tireless back and forths that seem to take place between Phuket vendors and tourists on a daily basis.
Handmade bracelets, tasty fresh sweets and clothes from budding designers can be found strolling around a Phuket market place. One such entrepreneur is Phuket resident, Hathai (Pomme) who is the owner, designer and producer of the hugely popular 'We love Phuket' T-Shirts.
Her simple, yet colourful and fun designs went from a simple scribble on a piece of paper to an extremely popular logo on a T-shirt that can now be seen up and down the country and most probably abroad as well.
The secret to its success is one of simplicity and one likely to be echoed by the majority of the vendors in many of the real market places around Phuket. “It's a good quality product,” Khun Pomme said, “And it's at a great price - for everyone.”
At just 150 baht a T-shirt for small and medium size shirts and 180 baht for large, K. Pomme's shirts are being snapped up everywhere she goes.
“Every weekend from 2pm–11pm I'm at Nakha market. Then on Tuesday from 4–8pm, I go to Chalong market and on Thursday from 2-8pm I go to Cherngtalay market.
Her T-shirts have been recognised by the Tourism Authority of Thailand as promoting Thai tourism and as such K. Pomme and her T-shirts are now invited to attend every TAT event.
“Every weekend from 2pm–11pm I'm at Nakha market. Then on Tuesday from 4–8pm, I go to Chalong market and on Thursday from 2-8pm I go to Cherngtalay market.”
Khun Pomme explained how the idea for the T-shirts came about, “I went to Japan in 2004 and saw how the tourists there liked to take pictures of the Shinkansen train and I thought how Phuket needed to have some icon or trademark of its own.”
The Phuket market place is in many ways a microcosm of Thai society, a wonderful mixture of exciting smells, sounds, sights and life. A place where good food can be eaten and great products can be bought and where, very possibly the next generation of Thai entrepreneurs and business men and women are starting out and willing to sell you their wares... at a great price.
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