Real antiques cannot be taken out of Thailand without a permit from the Fine Arts Department. No Buddha image, new or old, may be exported without permission - again, refer to the Fine Arts Department, or, in some cases, the Department of Religious Affairs, under the Ministry of Education. Too many private collectors smuggling and hoarding Siamese art (Buddhas in particular) around the world have led to strict controls.
Chinese and Thai antiques are sold in Bangkok's Chinatown in two areas: Wang Burapha (the streets which have Chinese "gates" over the entrance) and Nakhon Kasem. Some antiques (and many fakes) are sold at the Weekend Market in Chatuchak Park. Objects for sale in the tourist antique shops are fantastically overpriced, as can be expected. In recent years Northern Thailand has become a good source of Thai antiques - prices are about half what you'd typically pay in Bangkok.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
Chatuchak is a particularly good place to buy all sorts of Thai handicrafts, as there's a huge range, the quality is high and the intense competition keeps the prices low. Be careful when buying antiques, the large majority on offer are fake items and telling the difference between the genuine and the copies can be extremely difficult. Genuine antiques require a permit to be taken out of the country, but you will also need a permit if a fake is good enough to fool the inspecting customs officer.
Nakhon Kasem, known in English as the Thieves Market , is a second hand market for Thai and Chinese antiques (though most, if not all, are fake) and pawn shop goods, porcelain, brass, furniture, musical instruments and similar items. It's really past it's best now, and is not a particularly inspiring place to shop as many of the better deals have left for more profitable locations. The name comes from the fact that once upon a time this was where stolen goods would turn up, but it's you're unlikely to find anything illegitimate today.
This is the largest art and antique centre in Southeast Asia, with original and authentic artworks supplied by respected experts. Nothing is more striking at River City than the third and fourth floors of the shopping complex. Coming up the escalator, the immense range available at the center's over 100 art and antique shops occupying the entire 2 floors and Antique Arcade located on the 1st floor of Car Park Building immediately catches one's attention. Rare antiques including Buddha images, large blue and white vases, porcelains, silver boxes and betel nut sets, gold ornaments, art deco clocks and sculptures, intricate wood carvings and many other art and antique varieties from around the globe - China, Thailand, Burma, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and European countries -are interminable.
Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel,, where is adjacent to the River City Shopping Complex, is one of the antique centres where two floors are devoted to shops selling antiques and decorative items.
The Klong Thom Market
The Klong Thom Market is located near Chinatown in the area around Mahachak Road and Soi Chong Charoen Phanit. This market is the place for hardware, tools and related materials. One area of this market also specializes in antiques and electrical items; although some of the decrepit old-looking items may not come under a strict definition of'antique'