People buy a lot of silly, strange and useless items when they come to Bangkok. You might wonder who actually buys them, although a quick survey proves that many travellers have bought some of the items in this list (even us), and you might even have the full collection.

    Thai hawkers centre on tourist hotspots such as Khao San Road, Siam and the Nana area of Sukhumvit to shift these items endlessly, usually to visitors new to Bangkok who haven’t been overexposed to what are mostly gimmicks. We reckon most people buy at least 1 thing from the list, or perhaps several. After all, what is a souvenir anyway, except something to fill up your attic and catch the dust? These are 10 of the best you'll find in Bangkok.


    Multicoloured pointy hats

    Made of multiple rags stitched together in all the colours of the rainbow, this hat gives anyone the appearance of a classic drunk party dude, which might be fine on a Saturday night but wear it on a Monday afternoon and you'll find people averting their gaze or even avoiding you in the street.


    Wooden frogs

    This is the classic useless souvenir nobody wants but, when you see the nice old lady rubbing the stick over the frog’s back, you think it’s just perfect for your auntie and uncle back home – but it probably isn't. Admittedly, the noise of the 2 pieces of wood clacking together is similar to a frog, but the similarity quickly loses its appeal.


    Beer Chang singlets

    This is an item of clothing James Bond would never wear. If you think of an evening suit as the height of sophistication, then a Beer Chang vest would be on the opposite end of the scale. But, at the end of the day, Thailand is a hot a country, and a loose-fitting singlet makes sense (as long as you aren’t going to a nice restaurant or rooftop bar).


    Selfie sticks

    The selfie stick is a long pole made specifically to clasp your smartphone to the end for when arm length photos of yourself just won’t do and you want to capture more of the scene. While certainly useful, it has the unfortunate effect of making you look a little bit vain and even more foolish to everyone in your vicinity.


    Elastic flying toys

    You'll see these contraptions all around Khao San Road. Hawkers pull on the elastic band and shoot a winged piece of plastic high up into the air, which then floats down gently into his waiting hands. Kids are captivated by these toys, but we’ve never known them to last more than a week before breaking into pieces. To be fair, that's probably about as long as the novelty lasts, too.


    String bracelets

    String bracelets are a curio of Khao San Road, with ever more x-rated or ludicrous statements written on the face. What started out as cheap decorations to wear have changed into crude mementoes of crazy nights out in Bangkok. Needless to say, they are popular, with the price skyrocketing from 20 baht to 200 baht among some unscrupulous hawkers. Pro tip: never accept the first asking price.


    Thai boxing shorts

    Perfect for a few rounds in the ring or (more likely) a fancy dress party, Muay Thai boxing shorts come in all sorts of colours and the stylish Thai writing on them looks totally exotic… just don’t expect to ever wear them when you get back to your home country.


    Aladdin pants

    Aladdin pants are cheap, comfortable and look ridiculous – the perfect uniform for the gap year backpacker travelling Asia for the first time.

    Just like the Beer Chang singlet, these low slung pants are actually functional but the designs are becoming wackier and the join between the legs lower, to the point that it looks like there’s a stowaway hiding in them.


    Tuk tuks made out of a beer can

    You'll find these small toy tuk tuks fashioned out of beer and soda cans in many places all over Bangkok, and each artisan keeps coming up with ways to make more and more replica vehicles, although the classic tuk tuk is still the best.

    It makes a good, cheap souvenir, although not recommended for kids due to the sharp metal edges. Just make sure you don’t squash it as they lose their shape easily.

    Location: Bangkok


    Fake ID cards

    Fake ID cards and licenses can be found for pretty much all professions and uses along Khao San Road; don't tell underage drinkers looking for a way to sneak into a bar or pub! Last time we saw ID cards for students, police officers and even airline pilots!

    Paul Smith | Compulsive Traveller

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