Gold (not diamonds) is a Thai girl’s best friend

Thai people absolutely adore gold. It is an important part of their culture both symbolically and financially. They wear it, they use it religiously (Thai temples are covered in the stuff), give it as gifts to mark important occasions, and hoard it for future generations or ‘rainy days’. It is given to new born babies, as part of a wedding dowry, and just about every other occasion you think.

One Baht gold bracelet from Thailand
One Baht gold bracelet from Thailand

Give Gold to The Thai Lady in Your Life

The giving of gold is as important as receiving for it Thai people. To giving of gold is a demonstration of your wealth just as much as the possessing of it. My wife got a gold bracelet from me this Christmas (our first together as a married couple) and you will see from the picture below she has a smile across her face like the Cheshire Cat. Not only did she get to show off her new bracelet to her friends and family, but also make a bold statement about her husband’s wealth (I wish, but I suppose these things are relative).

Signing the receipt for the gold
Signing the receipt for the gold

How to Buy Gold in Thailand

Thai people are very serious about their gold. The weight measure used for gold is Thailand is the ‘baht’ which weighs precisely 15.244 grams as bullion or 15.15 grams as jewellery. All gold transactions in Thailand are done in fractions (or multiples) of 1 baht. The bracelet in the picture above is precisely 1 baht of gold. The starting point for jewellery tends to be a quarter baht (a quarter baht is also sometimes referred to a ‘salung’). The purity is also very standard, or it would make the system of gold trading on the basis of fractions or multiple of a baht unworkable. Thai Gold is always (if it is the real thing) 23 carat which means 96.5% purity. Gold from other countries, which has a different level of purity, tends to fetch a comparatively lower price if you try to sell it in Thailand. This is because gold with a lower level of purity is a commodity which is not easily traded in Thailand.

Keeping Wealth in Gold Not a Bank Account

Gold is often also used as a repository for wealth in Thailand. Long before the credit crunch Thai people have had a bit of a mistrust of investing their wealth in the bank, or often a fear of the taxman, and many people keep their savings a gold instead. As a consequence there is a national obsession with the spot price of gold, which is published daily in most newspapers. The prices quoted are for both bullion and jewellery, and include both a buying price and a selling price. Unlike many Western countries, you only lose at most 5% of the price of your gold if you sell it back to a shop. It is a easily traded commodity in Thailand and gold shops do a roaring trade year round, which is why there are so many of them in Thailand.

Yaowaratkrungthep Gold Shop in Koh Samui
Yaowaratkrungthep Gold Shop in Koh Samui

Where to Buy Gold In Bangkok

The most famous place to buy and sell Gold in Thailand is Yaowarat (China Town) in Bangkok. When I first came to Thailand, the Lonely Planet guide book said that retail space in Yaowarat is the most expensive per square metre in the world. I am not sure exactly how true that is. However, there are hundreds of gold shops in Bangkok’s China Town and they are busy from morning to evening so maybe there is some truth in this claim.

Where to Buy Gold in Koh Samui

The gold shop we went to was in Central shopping centre in Chaweng, Koh Samui. It is called Yaowaratkrungthep, which means ‘China Town, Bangkok’. I am not sure whether this is the best gold shop in Koh Samui, but my wife seemed to know exactly where she wanted to go so I guess if you are looking for gold on Koh Samui then this a good place to head for. They had a good selection, the gold was being sold at nearly the published spot price (I assume you need to go to Bangkok to get it bang on), and they gave receipts in triplicate which appeared to me to be a good sign.

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