Although Haad Rin has more of a commercial and tourist vibe than Thong Sala, it is the main port town that you should head for if you want to do some serious shopping in Koh Phangan. Thong Sala over the last few years has acquired some excellent shopping options.
You can buy a wide variety of products in Thong Sala. And when you need a break there are plenty of cafes, restaurants and bars to choose from. Unlike shopping centres in Koh Samui the shops in Thong Sala are free of crowds. You can enjoy your browsing and purchasing in relative calm. Below is a list of the best shops in Thong Sala.
1. Books Mark
Books Mark is one of the best book shop in Koh Phangan. It is located near Phantip Market, in the centre of the town. The shop is well organised and offers a wide selection of new and second hand titles including the best of the new releases in the English language. They also have a good selection of books in French, German and other European languages. This is an independent book shop which stocks both the new releases as well as older used resell books. If you have a book which you have already read rather than carry it around with you for the rest of your travel you can sell it to Books Mark or part exchange it for another book.
2. Noppond Pharmacy
Next door to Books Mark is Noppond Pharmacy. They have a wide range of medicines. If you need one specific medicine you might be surprised to find it here. The pharmacy also stocks a wide selection of health and beauty products. The staff know a bit of English and are very helpful. They are happy to order any medicines for you. Orders take 1 to 2 days to arrive and most types of medicine are available although the brand name might be different to one you know from your home country.
However, as with pharmacies around the world, the advice of the staff should not be regarded as sufficient medical advice. If you are seriously sick go to a doctor or to Koh Phangan Hospital.
3. Phantip Mart
Phantip Mart is next door to Phantip Market. In Bangkok Phantip Plaza is famous for its electronic products. Phantip Mart does not have the same fame as its namesake in the Bangkok but it is a good place to go for electronics. This is the place on Koh Phangan to come if you need a new charger for your phone or computer.
The mart consists of several shops that stock a wide range of mobile devices and accessories. You can find laptops, tablets, smart phones and all the add-ons and accessories that go with these devices. The prices aren’t as cheap as in Bangkok but at the same time, they aren’t bad either. Before you consider making the trek over to Koh Samui for a new phone or other electronic device, check out Phantip Mart first.
4. All Scuba Solutions
This shop is found on Soi Krung Thai. It is a side street off the main Thong Sala road. On the corner of this street is Krung Thai Bank. Thong Sala center is fairly compact and it won’t take you long to find your way around.
All Scuba Solutions has a full range of scuba gear and scuba ‘fashion’ items from a wide range of labels. They also offer high quality snorkeling equipment. Often the snorkels and masks for hire on the beach leak and diminish visibility under the water. If you are staying on a west coast beach such as Haad Yao or Haad Salad you might want to invest in a good snorkel and mask set.
Buying your diving and snorkelling equipment at this shop is better value than getting equipment from one of the Island’s dive shops. It will also almost certainly be cheaper to buy equipment here than in Europe or North American.
Bata is the leading shoe shop in Koh Phangan. It is placed in the foyer of the Big C shopping plaza. This plaza is 2.2 km from Thong Sala ferry pier on the road to Baan Tai.
In Bata you will find a full range of men’s and women’s shoes, sandals and boots for all occasions. The footwear is high quality and will last you far beyond your holiday. Expect to pay 500 to 1,000 Thai Baht for a pair of good quality shoes.
Phanganer is a clothes shop on Soi Talad Khao. This is the main street of Thong Sala’s China Town. The street runs parallel to the main street in the town and is where the Saturday ‘walking street’ event is held. This street is also well known for its Chicken and Rice shops: Khao Man Gai is a popular lunch time or breakfast dish for Thai people.
Phanganer is an independent fashion brand that is particularly strong for men’s fashion. The big seller at this shop is the range of t-shirts with unique and creative designs. A lot of the people who work on the Island with the various parties and music events wear Phanganer brand clothing, and for some a Phanganer brand t-shirt is a must have souvenir of their time on Koh Phangan.
7. Nok Shop
Located just three doors down from Phanganer is Nok Shop. It complements Phanganer as it caters for women. Nok Shop stocks a range of women’s fashion items. Here you can find both Thai and foreign brands. The shop is aimed at younger women; and is particularly strong on light dresses and accessories. Many of the fashion shops in Koh Phangan focus on ‘alternative’ fashion related to the party scene. The clothing range at this this shop is more suitable for a everyday wear or an evening out at a restaurant. There are a number of items here which use South East Asian batik style designs and other patterns reminiscent of Thailand and represent something unique which you might not find in Europe or North America.
8. Tesco Lotus
Koh Phangan changed when Tesco Lotus arrived on the island in 2009. It was the first big chain store to make it to the island. Although not as big as the Tesco Lotus in Koh Samui, it is still the most impressive shop in Thongsala. Here you can find not only a wide selection of food and drink but also cosmetics, beauty products, clothes and household items.
One of the great things about Tesco Lotus is that all the items are clearly labelled and reasonably priced. If you want to save money on drinks bulk buy at Tesco. Many of the local businesses around the island shop at Tesco Lotus.
Tesco Lotus also has a branch of KFC, which is the only branded fast food outlet on Koh Phangan.
9. Home Mart
Home Mart is on the Baan Tai Road just outside of Thong Sala. It is an excellent DIY store. Home Mart stocks everything you could need to build or repair a modern house. If you need a hammer to put up a hammock or a screwdriver to repair an electrical device then this is the place to go. The store also has helpful English speaking staff.
10. Limpipong Homeware and Health Food Centre
Limpipong, as it is locally known, is next door to Home Mart. It has a full range of kitchen equipment from knives and forks to pots and pans and glassware.
If you are planning on renting a bungalow or house on Koh Phangan for a few months then this is the place to come to get what you need.
The health food section of Limpipong has a good variety of imported Western and Asian products not readily found elsewhere on Koh Phangan such as lentils, Indian spices, pasta, tinned food and dried goods.
These are just ten of the best shops in Thong Sala. As you get to know the town better you will no doubt find more shops that offer attractive products at good prices. While there are plenty of articles on the net about Thong Sala’s restaurants and bars, too little attention is given to the wealth of shopping opportunities the friendly town offers.