Shopping in Bangkok is the favorite activity for many locals and travelers from all around the world. In fact, shopping belongs to the top reasons for tourism in Thailand.
Nearly everything you can think of is available somewhere, you just got to know where.
To make your next shopping experience a pleasant one, we have put together these useful shopping tips which can save a lot of stress and hassle.
1. Make a shopping list
Before you start your shopping trip, it is advised to make a list of what you want to buy and check where these items are available.
Remember that shopping malls and department stores offer brand name goods while markets offer a lot of replica items.
If you haven’t got any specific desires and just want to have a look around, go for areas where many shopping places are within walking distance such as Siam (BTS skytrain station: Siam).
Remember that most shopping malls and other shops are open seven days a week from 10am to 8 or 10pm.
2. Clothing – what to wear
As you may have noticed, Bangkok is very hot, sticky and humid. Try to dress as practical as possible as you will be doing a lot of walking. A t-shirt with shorts and slippers or sneakers will do.
You don’t have to look fabulous while shopping. Save your good clothes for the evening when visiting one of Bangkok’s many pubs and clubs.
3. Getting around
These two transport options are ideal as they avoid Bangkok’s notorious traffic jams and cover a big part of the city.
Check out our getting around in Bangkok site for more information.
4. Compare prices at different shops
Most malls and markets in Bangkok sell the same goods in different shops. If you found a desired item that has no price tag on it, ask how much it costs and try to bargain (see point 5 for bargaining information).
After you agreed on a price, tell them you will come back later and search other shops selling that same item.
A lot of money can be saved with this method, especially when buying more expensive goods.
5. Bargaining – don’t pay the double!
Bargaining when shopping is a way of life in many parts of Asia, and Thailand is no exception to this.
In most places, other than shopping malls and department stores where prices are fixed, bargaining is to be expected. Feel free to ask for a discount when shopping in markets, sidewalks and in places where no price tags are shown.
You will be amazed how much the initial price will drop (generally 10-60%) when bargaining the right way.
A rule of thumb is always to be friendly and have a big smile. After you ask for a discount, the shop keeper will most probably come up with a counter price. Try to lower that number by as much as possible until both of you are satisfied.
6. VAT refunds for tourists
Visitors entering the Kingdom of Thailand on a tourist visa are entitled to refunds of the 7% added tax (VAT) paid on goods purchased at shops, department stores, and other retail outlets displaying “VAT Refund for Tourists” signs. Tax refund forms are available at these stores.
To be entitled for a tax refund, the following conditions must be met:
- VAT refunds only apply to goods taken out of Thailand within 60 days from the date of purchase
- The total amount claiming for refund must not be less than 5,000 Baht
- Ask the sales assistant to complete the VAT refund form (P.P.10) and attach the original tax invoices to it
- Each VAT refund form (P.P.10) must show a value of 2,000 Baht or more
Read our article of tax refunds for tourists for more information.
7. Where to shop?
Have a look at our list of shopping malls and markets in Bangkok.