Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thailand Factory Outlets for Glassware, China and Cookware

Visit factory outlets for Lotus Crystal, Mikasa, Hadeland, Silverstone, Ecco and other brands of glasses, porcelain bone china and cooking pans.

glassware factory in thailand

Lotus Crystal

Tens of thousands of brand-name products from clothing to jewelry to appliances are manufactured in Thailand and exported overseas. Unfortunately, not many have real factory outlet shops, although the term "factory outlet" is slapped on many discount shops in Thailand. Lotus Crystal, Royal Bone China, Meyer and Ecco shoes are three genuine factory outlets.

Lotus Crystal in Rayong for Mikasa, Hadeland, Kagami ...

Founded in the early 1990s by a Swiss engineer, Lotus Crystal makes premium-quality lead crystal glasses, bowls and vases. Products are exported to Europe, Japan, Taiwan and the United States under such brand names as Mikasa, Calvin Klein, Darlington Crystal, Hadeland Glassverk and Kagami Crystal. Wine glasses and other stemware are mouth-blown by 160 top craftsmen.

wine glass - image by Mikasa

Mikasa Stemware

Lotus has a showroom on 28/6 Soi Ruam Rudi, off Witthayu (aka Wireless) Road, in central Bangkok but better discounts can be had at its factory in the coastal industrial estate area of Rayong. The factory outlet is open weekdays, Thai holidays excepted. Rayong, which is packed with industrial estates, is a good three hours from Bangkok, beyond Pattaya. Lotus could also be a stop on the way to the island of Koh Chang. A tour can be arranged by calling ahead.

Lotus Crystal Factory Address:

161 Moo 6 Nikom Soi Road, No. 13 Nikom Pattana
Rayong, Chonburi Province
Lotus phone (Rayong): (66) 038-897-029/31

Meyer Cookware Outlet for Anolon, Circulon, Silverstone Pans

Meyer Industries manufactures high-end aluminum cooking pots and pans. That means sauce pans, frying pans, cake pans, woks, skillets and Dutch ovens. This cookware is sold overseas under such brands as Anolon, Circulon and Silverstone. Supposedly, the pots and pans sold under the names of many celebrity chefs also originate here. In Thailand, Meyer pans are found in high-end Thai department stores, such as Central.

Silverstone Non-Stick Pan

Meyer's outlet store is open only for one week each year, usually in early December, from 10 am to 6 pm. Call ahead to check for this year’s dates. It’s worth giving the company a call or checking expat women's club sites and marking your calendar.

Year after year, Thais and expats come to snap up cookware at prices as much as 70 percent below retail prices. For example, a saucepan and lid that will sell for $150 overseas might be on sale for less than $40.

The factory is located in Laem Chabang Industrial estate in Sri Racha, along the Gulf of Siam coast on the way to Pattaya, and about two hours’ drive from the east side of Bangkok. From Pattaya, it’s only 15 minutes away. Here's a Google map to the Meyer factory and query form. You could visit both the Lotus Crystal and Meyer outlets in one day.

Meyer Industries Address

38/32 Moo 5 Laem Chabang Industrial Estate
Tungsukla, Sri Racha
Chonburi Province
Meyer phones (in Sri Racha):  (66) 038-490-383, Ext. 207
(66) 038-400-652/61 

Royal Bone/Royal Porcelain Chinaware

Noritake Porcelain Tableware

Royal Bone China manufactures high quality china plates, bowls, cups, coffee sets and other tableware under its own names and for Japanese, U.S. and European brands. The Thai brands are Royal Bone China, Royal Porcelain, Royal Fine China and Royal Porcelain Maxadura. Among the foreign brands are Noritake, Lifetime, Denby and Rosenthal Ritzenhoff. Designs range from classic to contemporary to elegant.

Royal Bone China is 45% bone ash, which lends it a shiny, translucent quality. Tourists that can’t get out to the factory can shop at the many Royal Porcelain/Royal Bone China retail stores around Bangkok or the Golden Armada showroom off Rama II Road. The stores are often in the flashier malls and in small shops close to upscale hotels.Then there is the online catalog.

The factory outlet, located in the Kaeng Khoi Industrial Estate, is open Monday to Saturday, 8 am to 5 pm. While the drive from Bangkok only takes two or three hours, those wanting to stay overnight and see more of Saraburi Province often stay at the Saraburi Inn Hotel, also known as Saraburi Resort, in the provincial capital.

Royal Bone China/Royal Porcelain Saraburi Factory Address:

Kaeng Khoi Industrial Estate
3.3 KM along Kaeng Khoi Rd (turn right after Kohler Factory)
Kaeng Khoi, Saraburi Province

Phone (in Kaeng Khoi): (66) 036-251-680/684
Phone (in Bangkok): (66) 02-253-6830

ECCO Shoes Factory Outlet

As long as you're visiting Royal Bone China in Saraburi, you might want to try visiting the Ecco outlet. The Danish company Ecco does indeed manufacture shoes and other manner of adult and children's footwear in Thailand. In fact, many foreign shoemakers do, although famous brands of athletic shoes seem to have shifted operations to cheaper countries.

Ecco is the only one I have heard of with a real factory outlet. I hesitate to list it here because I have never met anyone that has visited it and no one answered when I called the number below. Since this is an all-too-familiar response in Thailand, I will keep trying. Nor does the Ecco corporate website provide any help. The factory was swamped by the 2011 floods but it was back in operation by the first half of 2012.

I therefore wouldn't suggest making a a special effort to go out to Singburi Province. It's a couple of hours from Bangkok, in the province just north of Ayutthaya and west of Saraburi, in a heartland for factories. But if I were passing through the province or at the Saraburi Royal Porcelain chinaware outlet on a weekend, I would give it a try. I'd probably go to the biggest, fanciest hotel possible, the kind of place where business visitors to the factories stay, and ask if anyone knew specific directions to Ecco. Finding the industrial estate itself wouldn't be difficult but these estates can be huge in Thailand.The Saha Rattanakorn estate itself is marked on Google maps. 

Since Ecco shoes are made in Thailand, does that mean their prices at department stores in the country are cheaper than at home? Probably not and you will get better deals buying online. In Thailand, full-price Ecco shoes are quite pricey, usually around the equivalent of US $100 for women's shoes. That's on par with Clark, Dansko, Hush Puppies, Skechers and similar comfy imported footwear sold in higher-end malls and department stores. Apparently, import duties still apply.

Ecco Shoe Factory Outlet Address

Saha Rattanakorn Industrial Estate
Bang Phra Khru, Nakorn Luang, Phra Nakorn Si Ayutthaya
Singburi Province
Hours: Saturday and Sunday, 9 am to 6 pm
Phone (in Thailand): 03-571-6601 Ext 6464

Closed Factory Outlets:  Crazy Steps Shoes, X Sizes Underwear, Oakley Sunglasses

At least two Bangkok factory outlets, probably three, are long gone. The all-powerful internet can't note that, though, so plenty of visitors are still tramping out to these places and making online searches for them. 

Shoe factory outlets? Perhaps the Crazy Steps outlet, somewhere east of the Petchburi MTR (subway) station still exists. But having made a search all the way up to the Amari Boulevard Hotel, I very much doubt it. There is a great deal of construction afoot--following recent destruction--along this stretch of Petchburi so I'm guessing that that the Crazy Steps building was vacated or scrapped in the process.

The X Sizes outlet, for discount women's bras and underpants, has shut down on Sukhumvit Soi 24. However, there is a small "X Sizes Outlet" in the very well-known, cheapie shopping mall, MBK, at the corner of Rama I and Phayathai Road, on the western edge of Siam Square. Perhaps if you're already in the vicinity--say, already on an upper floor of MBK--it might be worth checking out. (It's on the third floor, on the east or Phayathai Road side, middle of the corridor, near an up escalator.). But, no: no unpadded bras and mostly nylon underwear. And the padded bras are those super-thick rubberized things that are so popular in Thailand. One sizable point in this shop's favor: there is a dressing room.

Dressing rooms aside, do women or girls ever need to buy underpants at full price in Bangkok? There are better pickings on hundreds of jumbled discount tables and in small neighborhood shops all over town. Usually with a goodly selection of cotton underpants, if not unpadded bras. All right, the biggest sizes (DD and beyond) and nursing bras are not padded. But otherwise, it's a problem for expatriates and a little mystifying because Thailand is still a lingerie manufacturer for a some well-known international brands. (My guess: All unpadded lingerie must be exported. But you're really desperate? OK, go to a Marks & Spencer website and find its outlets in big Thai department stores. When you visit and see the absurd prices--due to import duties?--you will decide you can wait to check out a Marks & Spencer's in Singapore or Hong Kong.)

Very likely, at any given moment, there are some of those jumbled tables on the ground floor of MBK or Siam Center or Amarin Plaza. I have even seen them in the lobbies of office buildings. There aren't as many tables piled with men's cotton boxer shorts, but they are around, even common on sidewalk stalls

Finally, sunglasses. Yes, there used to an Oakley eyewear outlet farther up from X Sizes on Sukhumvit Soi 24 in a building called Camp Davis, but it's long gone. Perhaps there is another Oakley factory outlet elsewhere in Asia but I don't know where.

Copyright Susan Cunningham. No republication without permission. Contact southeastasiatraveler @

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