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Shopping in Thailand

Every city has one or several public market places. Bangkok itself is world-famous for its public markets such as Sukhumvit area, Ratchaprasong intersection, Pathumwan area, Pratunam, Chatuchak, Lumphini, Yaowarat, Banglamphu. Even if you don’t feel like shopping, these markets are filled with sensory and visual delights. There are also many mega-malls like Siam Paragon, the biggest mall in Southeast Asia, the extraordinary Central World Plaza, the Platinum Fashion Mall, and the Emporium which is famous for fashion

Textiles Fabric is the best all-round buy in Thailand, with Thai silk being considered the best in the world. The weave and soft texture of Thai silk means it is easily dyed resulting in brighter colours and a unique lustre. Thailand’s northern and northeastern provinces are where the best deals can be found. Tailor-made and ready-made clothing are relatively inexpensive. If one is not particular about style, it is simple to pick up an entire traveling wardrobe at one of Bangkok’s many street markets for the same price as one pair of designer jeans.

Jewellery Thailand is one of the world’s leading exporters of gems and ornaments. If you know what you want, you can make some excellent deals in both unset gems and fi nished jewellery. With the cooperation of the Thai Gem and Jewellery Traders Association (TGJTA) and the Tourism Authority of Thailand, the Jewel Fest Club was established to bring together many leading jewellery manufacturers and wholesalers.

The club’s aim is to offer quality products at reasonable prices.When visitors purchase an item of jewellery from a store that is clearly identifi ed as a member of the Jewel Fest Club, the purchase will be duly recorded and a certifi cate detailing the purchase will be issued. Not only does this certificate of authenticity clearly state the nature and value of the purchase, it also guarantees the item should visitors wish to return the purchase. A 10% reduction occurs if the merchandise is returned to the point of sale within 30 days, and a 20% reduction after 30 days but within 45 days of the purchase date.

Hill Tribe Crafts Colourful embroidery, clothing, bags and jewellery fashioned by the indigenous tribal people in Thailand’s northern provinces can be bought in Bangkok. Of course, the closer one gets to the source, items become less expensive and are of better quality. Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai are the places to fi nd bargains for hill tribe crafts.

Lacquerware Thais have been producing some of the world’s fi nest lacquerware since the 11th century. In many cases, the products produced in Thailand today follow the same production techniques used 1,000 years ago. Bowls, trays, plates, boxes, containers, cups, vases and many other day-to-day items are sold at most markets.

Ceramics Many kinds of hand-thrown pottery, old and new, are available throughout the Kingdom. Most popular are the greenish Thai Celadon products from the ancient Sukhothai-Si Satchanalai area and central Thailand’s “five colour” style known as Bencharong.

Furniture Rattan and hardwood furniture items are excellent buys and can be made to order. Bangkok and Chiang Mai have the best selection of styles and the highest quality.

Packing and Shipping Services Thanks to the ever-increasing number of tourists coming to Thailand, most shops are experienced at shipping abroad and will attend to all the documents such as insurance, customs and necessary permits. The Central Post Offi ce also offers a parcel-wrapping service for those who want to make small shipments themselves. For larger shipments, there are a variety of international shipping companies.

Trading Opportunities The Department of Export Promotion (DEP), Ministry of Commerce, offers a Permanent Exhibition where quality products manufactured in Thailand are on display. The exhibition features over 250 selected exhibitors with more than 10,000 items on display in three exhibition areas.

The following is a list of just some of the items available from that district:

  • Bangkok: clothes market in the Ratchaprasong area; locally made clothes and imported products can be found at all department stores; jewellery can be purchased at every night market; Chatuchak Weekend Market offers just about everything from antiques to potted plants.
  • Nonthaburi: renowned for tropical fruits.
  • Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya: handicrafts at The Royal Folk Arts and Crafts Centre at Bang Sai such as woven clothes, woodcarvings, baskets, artificial flowers, dolls.Lop Buri: reed mats.
  • Kanchanaburi: sapphires of excellent quality and value, and Nin Stone, which is a black mineral.
  • Chiang Mai: handicrafts at Bo Sang Village; Amphoe San Kamphaeng is famous as the birthplace of umbrella making, where the craft continues to flourish and produce wonderful umbrellas.
  • Chiang Rai: Amphoe Chiang Saen has fabulous wood carvings and is renowned for the craftsmen’s traditional woodcarving skills.
  • Mae Hong Son: exquisite gems Kalasin: Art and Culture Centre; patterned cloth, silk, and cotton fabrics embroidered with alphabet patterns.
  • Udon Thani: visit Ban Chiang for its beautiful hand-painted pottery.
  • Northeastern Region: magnificent silver work; basketry made from bamboo (typical Thai design).

Visitors can browse to their heart’s content, viewing top-quality products ranging from gift items and handicrafts, furniture, toys, leather products, construction materials, automotive parts, hardware, tools and appliances, stationary and sporting equipment, to name only a few. All are carefully selected for reliability and a high standard of workmanship. If visitors find products that suit their needs, they may contact the manufacturer directly or the DEP staff can provide a variety of services to help make things easier. For example, they will arrange appointments with many companies and also provide meeting rooms with full office facilities. All of the permanent exhibition services are free of charge.

OTOP Village Each region of Thailand specialises in its own exquisite arts and crafts: wood-working in the North; wicker ware in the central region; silk-weaving in the Northeast; and a variety of practical and decorative items using coconut shells and rubber tree products in the South. To preserve this rich cultural heritage, and give these artisans a decent standard of living in their clusters of rural villages, or tambons, the government came up with the One Tambon, One Product programme. Watch for OTOP labels at major shopping malls, in the country, as well as OTOP Shop at Thailand Export Mart Building on Ratchadaphisek Road, OTOP Shop by Ganez at Siam Paragon, Thailand OTOP Plaza at Pratunam Center, the Suan Lum Night Bazaar, the Chatuchak Weekend Market, and The Silom Galleria in Bangkok.

For more information, please contact the Thai Trade Centre at a Royal Thai Embassy in your own country. In Bangkok, contact the Department of Export Promotion. Tel. 66 2511 5066-77 Fax: 66 2512 2670. Website:

VAT Refund Visitors to Thailand can now claim back Value Added Tax (VAT) paid on items purchased in the Kingdom. A VAT refund can be claimed by any non-Thai visitor who has been in Thailand less than 180 days in a calendar year, is not a crew member of an airline, and departs Thailand by air carrier from an international airport: Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hat Yai or Phuket. To claim a VAT refund, the visitor must:
  • have purchased the item(s) within 60 days of departure. 
  • have purchased the item(s) from stores displaying the VAT REFUND FOR TOURISTS sign. 
  • on the day of purchase, paid no less than 2,000 Baht, including VAT, at each participating store. The total amount claimed for refund must not be less than 5,000 Baht, including VAT. 
  • ask, on the purchasing day, the sales assistant at the store to complete VAT refund form (P.P.10) and attach the original tax invoices to the form. All application forms (P.P.10) must show a value of 2,000 Baht or more. 
  • before departure, present his or her goods and submit the form and original tax invoices to the customs officers for inspection before check-in. Note : In case of bank draft refund or credit to credit card account, the visitor can either present the claim to revenue officers or drop it into the box at the Refund Counter or mail the claim from their home to the Revenue Department. For more information, please see the Website:


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