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:
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!
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.
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!