With such a large expat community in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I thought it would be easy to track down a recommendation for an eyeglass store. Instead, a quick Google search flooded me with warnings about who not to buy from (for quality reasons, unfulfilled warranties, etc). My old glasses were 5+ years old, no longer had most of their paint, and were pretty scratched up. It was time to go shopping!

I finally found many referrals sending me to “The Vision Center” on Ratvithi Road, inside the moat square in Chiang Mai. The address listed online took us to the opposite side of town, where we walked and walked without any success (the kids were super happy about that, as you can imagine). We gave up. Later, we returned on motorbikes, and finally found it on the far Eastern side of the street, just a few blocks before hitting the inner moat road (in fact, it is just 2 doors down from Sit Down & Shut Café, if you’d like another point of reference).

Don’t expect a sign announcing that is “The Vision Center”!  Everything is in Thai!  Look for these 3 big yellow signs:

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Upon entering I found friendly staff who happily handed me pair after pair of glasses to try on. They were very attentive to what I was looking for, and made a lot of great suggestions, as if they knew all 1,000+ pairs of glasses they had in stock!

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After selecting the winning pair, I then went in to the optometrist’s office for a quick eye exam. He spoke perfect English, and it turned out that he is the owner and has had the store for many years. He says he gets more business than he can sometimes handle, and therefore makes no effort to appeal to the expats and become better known. He said this all humbly, and was very friendly!

He noted my previous prescription, but at the end he handed me a surprising prescription—my right eye had improved by .5!  Who has eyes that improve?  Sure enough, the new eyeglasses (and later the new contacts I bought) were an improvement upon my old prescription!

I’m attributing it to an ebook I bought a year ago on how to improve my vision naturally through eye-exercises (yes, it’s totally doable)!  Sadly, I rarely did any of the exercises (b/c we hit the road and you know how hard it is to maintain any type of routine when you’re traveling), but I suppose the few exercises I did on occasion were probably all with my right eye…which goes to show that a little eye exercise can go a long way (like other forms of exercise, right?)!

The winning pair wasn’t particularly cheap—but I was happy to pay good prices for some good quality glasses. Ready in about 2 hours—this pair cost $160 USD.

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So there you go…try out The Vision Center, but good lucking asking a songteow driver to take you there. Mark it on your map and navigate there without using the business name! Happy Shopping!

25 Responses to “Buying eyeglasses in Chiang Mai, Thailand”

  1. Thank you for this!

    I’m way overdue for an eye test, and some new specs. Have heard good things about this place, so will definitely try it out.

    Great to read your review! 🙂

  2. hey i tried to put in the address on gooogle maps and it doesnt find it. is it in the new part of thailand?

  3. ok thanks

  4. Louise Morresey says:

    I went to the Vision Center in July 2014 and they put new legs onto my glasses. I live in New Zealand and 2 weeks ago someone took my glasses, I have not seen them since. Do you happen to have a contact email address for the Vision Centre, as I won’t be back in CM till May next year. Regards

  5. David Freidberg says:

    I have been going here for almost 20 years and cannot recommend it highly enough. He has the latest computerized equipment, speaks fluent English, and most important: he is 100% honest. Many times my wife or I have been there and he has told us to wait another 6-12 months before getting new lenses.

  6. Looking fo photo grey eyeglass lenses,will be in chiang main early feb. what do they cost?

    Dba

    • No idea! I didn’t pick frames that were “cheap”, per se, so I don’t know how much of savings I had on my overall purchase via buying from some Western market. I hadn’t bought high quality glasses in the US before–and these were certainly nicer than those.

  7. Could you send me their email address? I just need to get my eyes checked this place sounds great! Did you have to make an appointment or did you just go? Thanks!

  8. I would appreciate if you could send me their email contact info as well. I’d like to make an appointment for my kids when we’re there next month. Thanks so much, this was so helpful! Especially the bit about directions… my kids would also be “thrilled” to wander around, so you’ve saved us!

  9. georges von drejs says:

    Sorry to spoil the atmosphere of enthusiastic comments about Vision Centre. I co-own 4 medical clinics with optometric services provided by 3 orthopedists (part time). I took an appointment for an examination – 6 years I had the last – with of course the diagnosis or specifications of the lenses. This is a service provided all across the Americas and Europe. You pay for the service and buy your glasses wherever suits you. The optician (probably having interests in the store) showed to be a great gentleman, speaks English well, has state of the art equipment. But. In the middle of the exam, as he inquired about purchasing glasses, I could only tell him the truth which is that I have preferred suppliers in Canada who who handle it and committed THE SIN, say that we sometimes buy on the net with ZENNI OPTICAL. He highly disapproved ZENNI (glasses and lenses as low as $60 – great for consumers with low budget – bad for his business). He quickly and seemingly finished the exam and concluded THAT HE HAD NO LENSES FOR ME! Wow! Impossible! Gracefully he refused any payment for the exam. But I lossed 3 hours getting to the place and finding it ans was back to square no one. He refused to give me the specs (8 figures) of my current lenses. This has a strong flavour of CONFLICT OF INTEREST. If there is a professional authority for optometrists he should be reported. You farangs who want to buy glasses and lenses wait to be in Bangkok or better try ZENNI OPTICAL. We foreigners have a tendency to be naive and do not research enough to have the best deal. Anyway we do so at home for various goods services when attracted by a good marketing.

    • Very odd. It seems doubtful that Zenni could be much of a competition to him, in Thailand—a country which doesn’t have online ordering and shipping services like other Western countries. Secondly, all of the lenses are done right there in his shop. It is not like US/Canada optometrists where they take your measurements and send off the lens specs to labs to be made and sent back. Perhaps you have a highly unusual prescription that he couldn’t possibly fit? Perhaps you rubbed him wrong, and he was trying to get rid of you? Not sure. Lastly, the doctor at this facility told me he actually preferred more obscurity…as he was too busy, already. His sign is in Thai–and his staff speaks very limited English. He clearly is not after the English-speaking market…but they are finding him anyways, due to lack of honest options in Chiang Mai. Some of us are not looking for the “best deal”…but looking for superior service and quality product. My glasses frames were purchased over 3 years ago and still look fantastic with scratches, chipping, etc—which is already 3x as long as my last pair of glasses frames from Walmart 🙂 I would return there!

  10. Hi, Thanks a lot for your post, it encouraged me to try out and make my glasses down there in Chiang Mai. I will try to find them.
    Do you know if they also make sunglasses with power? Do they have branded frames (such as Gucci, Prada, Tommy Hilfiger)?
    Thanks,
    Bianka

  11. Hi,

    Thanks to this post I found some very nice glasses there last december 😊 back in europe I wanted to buy some corrected sunglasses and would thus love to have the prescription from the vision centre. Would you mind sending me their emailaddress? That would be great!

    Thank you so much and kind regards,
    Corinne

  12. Linn McLean says:

    Mislaid my only pair of glasses somewhere en route from New Zealand, so appreciated this recommendation. Great service – prompt, efficient, not that difficult to find. Would definitely recommend Vision Centre

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