For a unique holiday gift, try something elegant, handcrafted and a real novelty – Thai silk, the country’s pride. Local silk is one of the most popular tourist buys in Thailand. It is an excellent formal wear that can be too expensive if bought abroad. The fabric is versatile – meaning there’s the light-weight type you can wear in a hot climate and the heavy-weight type of silk in cold temperature.
And there’s even one for the middle ground – the middle- weight, ideal in a climate that’s not too hot nor too cold. The ply of thread used in weaving it determines the weight of a given piece of silk. For example, lightweight silk is generally one ply, which means single strands of silk are woven together to make the cloth.
The light-weight variety is often used for ladies’ blouses, summer dresses and men’s shirts. When buying silk fabric to take to a tailor or dressmaker, remember that blouse and shirt combinations use about 5.5 yards of silk while men’s shirts use 2.5 to 3 yards. Unfortunately, some unscrupulous manufacturers mix silk and polyester, passing the woven fabric off as genuine silk. So if you have doubts about the purity of a piece, use the “burn test” to determine it. To conduct the “burn test”, ask the sales clerk to give you a small piece of the silk you wish to buy.
Burn the piece and examine the ash. If it is powdery and smells like burnt meat, it is pure silk. If it is coarse like plastic ash, the silk is part polyester. There are many places in Pattaya to buy Thai silk. Some Thai silk outlets are in department stores such as that of the Royal Garden Plaza, or in souvenir shops, and also along the sidewalks at the Beach Road. Be careful though, some could be overpriced. The popular price of pure silk is around Bt300 to Bt400 a yard.
Apart from clothes, Thai silk fabrics also make good pillow cases, serviettes and handkerchiefs. Any item made of silk exudes an air of luxury. As a gift, it is certain to be well appreciated by the one getting it. A number of shops specialize in silk outfits. Most have big showrooms full of every shade and fashion print you can imagine, often with very helpful staff.