All of the well developed beaches along the island's east coast have many shops serving the needs of the tourists. The most developed beach, Chaweng, has a main street lined with small shops that generally stay open late into the night. These mostly sell beach-wear, jewelry and over-priced mass produced souvenirs. You will find some higher class galleries selling traditionally crafted items as well as modern works.
What to Buy
The only purely 'local' items are coconut-wood products such as bowls made from the shells and utensils crafted from the tree itself. You'll also see a lot of shell items on sale, such as mobiles and large mounted conchs, although we doubt most of these are of local origin.
You can also find plenty of traditional Thai handicrafts from all around Thailand in Samui's souvenir shops. These include colorful hand-woven silk and cotton, intricately enameled ceramics called benjarong, black lacquer and carved wood. Prices will likely be higher than elsewhere in Thailand.
There are a couple of shops worth special mention. In the cluster of shops at the base of the Big Buddha temple is a small silver shop with no name run by the smith who made most of the items on display. He works a variety of crystals and semi-precious stones into rings, bracelets and necklaces. Choose from turquoise, amber, coral, lapis and many other colored stones.
In Chaweng, Oriental Gallery is one of the oldest and most trusted names for traditionally styled home decor and true antiques. They recently moved to the Central Samui Beach Resort Shopping Arcade, near the southern end of Chaweng Beach Road. Tel: 077-422-200.
Mr Samui Gallery in the otherwise down-market Lamai beach area is an eclectic blend of art gallery cum jewelry shop cum restaurant. A number of jewelry designers display their wares in the shop. There are piles of necklaces strung with colored stones and crystals in a myriad of colors and styles. At times, it looks a little like Ali Baba's cave rather than a traditional jewelry shop. Tel: 077-424-630.
On the road to the Grandmother and Grandfather Rocks, close to where it meets the main road, Indochina offers traditional Thai wood carvings and other home decor items. Tel: 077-427-590.