Bangkok is one of the best places in the world to pick up wholesale goods. Due to the proliferation of factories, the large supply of cheap labour and the relatively low tax rates, many goods can be picked up for much cheaper than their Western equivalents. Because of these reasons there is a profit to be made by purchasing large quantities of goods in Thailand for resale in the West. This is certainly true for handicrafts, clothing, décor, and furniture.
Different parts of the city contain their own areas where speciality, wholesale goods can be purchased. Before looking for such goods, it’s important to do some research, to know what you want and, perhaps most important, to have at least a basic knowledge of Thai language. If possible, have someone with you who can speak both Thai and English. There are many small details (price not the least of these!) which need to be discussed before you hand over your money.
Chinatown is the first place many head to, since this is one of the oldest mercantile areas of the city. Many businesses have been established for generations by ethnic Chinese immigrants specialising in wholesale items in Bangkok, with everything from shoes to stationary at knockdown bulk prices. With the flood of cheap goods produced in China, it makes sense to start here in this crowded, intriguing area of Bangkok.
The Silom area of the city if famous for its gems and jewellery. These can be purchased both singularly or wholesale. Obviously a good knowledge of the industry is essential when looking at precious stones and metals. The area is populated by a large number of Middle-Eastern businessmen, many of whom speak both Thai and English. As long as you do your research, know the law and bargain well, some amazing bargains can be had here.
Obviously, when dealing with large amounts of money, you should know exactly what you are getting and, even more importantly, how you intend to get the goods back to your home country. Gem scams are common so never be duped into buying ‘cheap gems’ that have been apparently smuggled in from Burma. Invariably they are fake, and by the time you discover this, the shop would have promptly closed down.
For stainless steel, silver and ethnic clothing, the Banglamphu area of Bangkok is highly recommended. There are a good number of shops around here which advertise their ability to supply wholesale silver and stainless steel. They are all used to dealing with Westerners, which will make your experience much easier.
Especially congregated around Khao San Road, you can pick up some cheap wholesale packages around here. For textiles, t-shirts and ethnic clothing, try one of the larger stalls on or around Khao San Road. They will be more than happy to advise you of prices for wholesale purchases.
Perhaps the best place in Bangkok to buy fabric, cloth, textiles and clothing wholesale is the Bobae Market – situated near Bobae Tower and not too far away from Khao San Road. This bustling street market contains a whole host of shops and stall owners who package huge wholesale orders daily for customers all over the world.
For designer goods and fashionable items, like jeans, t-shirts, bags and shoes, a visit to Pratunam Market is essential. This 24-hour, air-conditioned market is bursting at the seams with small stalls and larger shops; many of which advertise their ability to fulfil your wholesale needs. You should be especially aware that some of the goods with designer labels, like Levi, Armani and Louis Vitton, are probably not the real thing. In saying that, a large percentage of the goods on offer are of high quality.
If you are after handicrafts and other Thai traditional wares wholesale then we recommend you take a trip north to Chiang Mai where much of it is made. The suppliers here are so much cheaper, making the excursion worthwhile. The handicraft and artisans centre of Baan Tawai is one of the top spots and is to the south of the city in Hang Dong district, while Borsang (east of town) specialises in famous parasols made of saa paper. A local buying agency, such as Lanna Handicrafts is a good idea to help negotiate a fair price, and arrange shipping.