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Shopping for Expats in Thailand

Author: Jason Zhou
Submitted: August 2014

Thailand is a popular Asian country for tourists from all over the world, about 26 million tourists visited the country in 2013. Many of them leaving having enjoyed the shopping experiences in Thailand.  

Traditional Thai crafts have their own unique style and have been getting more popular all over the world. Typical Thai handmade crafts include fine wood carvings, Thai pottery, teak sculptures, silverware, wax crafts, and paintings. Thai silk products are well known for quality and uniqueness. Jim Thompson (www.jimthompson.com) is one of the most famous names in the Thai silk industry in Thailand. The companies shop in Bangkok is similar to a Thai silk museum, and has many high quality silk products.

There are many markets all over Thailand. The most well-known is the Chatuchak Weekend Market in Bangkok, where you can find 9,000 shops in 26 sections, including household products, handmade crafts, clothes, pets and plants. Bargaining is widely accepted and almost expected in Thai markets, by being polite and respectful of the vendor you may be able to get a good deal on the goods you like. Be aware, only cash is accepted in the markets.

Floating markets, which are markets where goods are sold from boats, are a must to experience. You can find all types of fruits there. If you are in Bangkok, you can go to the Damnoen Saduak Floating Markets on the southwest of Bangkok.  

Night markets are also very popular. Again, Bangkok has some great places to explore. You can try the following night markets: Khao San market, Asiatique The Riverfront market, Silom night market, Saphan Phut market, Patpong Night Market, Huai-Khwang market,  Khlong Thom market, and Ratchada Night Market.

If you want to buy popular brands you can go to the shopping centres, department stores and shops on Sukhunvit Road, Phloenchit Road, and Rama 1 Rd. Among all the centres and stores, the Central World Plaza is the largest. It holds more than 500 shops and restaurants. Others include Siam Center, Siam Discovery Center and Siam Square.  

If you just visit Thailand as a tourist, you should be able to get some tax back for goods you buy. To qualify, you should make a single payment of over TBH2,000 in the same shop and ask for the tax refund form at the time of purchase. You can get the tax refund after you have your form stamped at the Custom desks in the airports. Be aware that you may not have much time as there can be long queues. There is also a threshold of TBH5,000 for the refund. 

In Thailand, you may find there is no statutory return policy or exchange policy as there is in your home country. Some large stores may offer a cooling off period or accept a return or an exchange of goods in a resalable condition. However, the procedure can be very complicated. It is recommended to check the return policy before making any purchase.


Online shopping

Online shopping is not very popular in Thailand. However, there are some local online shopping websites in Thailand, such as www.weloveshopping.com .   

You can buy many goods online from all over the world, from websites such as Amazon and ebay but you need to be aware that this is a form of importation. Therefore, this may trigger custom duties and VAT. Some items are not allowed to enter Thailand so before making any purchase, you can check what has been prohibited here: https://www.customs.go.th/wps/wcm/connect/custen/traders+and+business/prohibited+and+restricted+items/general+prohibitions+and+restrictions/generalprohibitionsandrestrictions.


Shopping hours  

Business hours differ in certain areas. However, for major tourist destinations such as Bangkok, Pattaya and Chiang Mai, typical business hours in a day are 10 am to 10 pm. Large shops normally open seven days a week. Superstores may open 24/7. Floating markets open from 5 o’clock until about 10 o’clock in the morning.  Night markets open from sunset until 10pm, and sometimes even until midnight.



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