By : Admin
There are lots of things to do here. One of the those I personally like to do is shop. Shopping, however does not always mean buying. There is shopping and then there is shopping. I own and run a packing and shipping company here and part of what I do is assist wholesale clients with purchasing for export so I have learned over the years what to buy and where. It took several years to know what I was doing. At first I headed east of Chiangmai; out to Sangkhampaeng. That was a mistake. There are a select few suppliers out that way but mostly they are tourist traps. Buses or mini buses being run out of the hotels take visitors to Sangkhampaeng and to Ban Tawai which is south of ChiangMai and near Hang Dong. Almost all of the tours to the ‘factories’ on the Sangkhampaeng road are so that the tour operators can collect commissions on your purchases or the shops pay by the head for tourists. Many shops in Ban Tawai will not pay for tour buses to come but some will and shoppers are steered in those directions.
I do some buying at the Warolot market and less and less at the night market and most in Ban Tawai. When I began more than 20 years ago there were 5 shops in that area; now there must be a couple thousand at least if you know your way around the market and the vicinity. I would say with only a few exceptions over the years everyone is honest. And the mistakes they make are more out of laziness or incompetence than downright dishonestly. The shop owners try hard to learn what foreign buyers expect. I bring that up because it is important to me that people who work for me and people I work with are honest.
The standards though have increased dramatically from when I first began. I can remember once ordering 4” wooden grey curl cats only to get 3 ½”-5”, some cats in pink and blue and even some dogs because ‘they are good sell!’ Now several suppliers are technologically savvy producing Performa invoices with pictures of every product on a very informative spreadsheet. In time I expect for others to catch up.
Of course we have our favorites over in Ban Tawai who we like to deal with because they do what they say when they say and since we inspect the goods ourselves before packing them we are aware of the quality of the products as well.
While 20 years or so ago the shopping process was very challenging the fact that they seem to be improving has made the whole experience now that much more rewarding.