Shop Smart in Bangkok
LET’S get straight to the point. If you are into Wats (temples), Palaces, Chao Praya river cruises and other tourist’s traps, then this guide is not for you.
This travel guide is for the ladies who lunch, the charge-happy wives, the power bitches, the style icons, the teens and preteens, the yummy mummies and the fashionistas with or without a budget. This guide is a celebration of the little shopaholic in all of us.
Who to Bring
It is cheaper to shop with two to three shopaholics and team up for bulk purchase discounts. If traveling with kids or family, visit the Jim Thompson House and Museum where they sell silk products. Also, the newly built Siam Paragon Mall houses the largest Ocean Aquarium where you can dump the non Shopaholics for the day.
Dodging the Party Pooper
There is always the anti-shopaholic (usually the sponsors of shopaholic’s expenses). In shopaholic’s case, the father was given vague details of cultural spots like the chatuchak, Jim Thompson Museum, and the floating market.
Realization only dawned on him at the airport when he saw shopaholic and family carting off large luggage with nothing inside.
For those whose husbands and fathers stayed at home while you went gallivanting around Bangkok’s major malls, bring pieces you can mix and match. A vest, a scarf, a hat can change your look for every snapshot.
That will spread that free half day city tour into three whole days of culture tripping. You can now tell them you toured Bangkok with snapshots to prove it.
Be a tourist
Declare it. Show your passport (or photocopy) at the information center of major malls and get a tourist discount card from 5 to 30 percent off. On top of that, you can claim 7 percent Vat Tourist Refund for every 2000 baht you spend on a one time purchase.
Ask the cashier for the Vat Tourist Refund Application Form upon purchase. An accumulated total of 10,000 baht must be presented at the airport departure area for the cash refund. Some malls like Siam Paragon accept accumulated receipts for VAT refunds and give out tourist discount cards at the airport.
Learn about the country
A US dollar is equal to 35 THB. There are only two phrases you need to know. “How much is this?” is “Ra kha thao rai” and “Too expensive!” is “Paeng Pai.” Got it? You are now good to go.
Buy only brands that are cheaper in Bangkok like Wacoal and Lacoste. Beauty products like Sunsilk, Rejoice, L oreal and Schwarzkopf are cheaper also. And although malls offer more choices, stalls can give discounts for the same products if you haggle.
Shopaholic purchased Wacoal stuff at three plus one at half price, not to mention the Vat Refund. Quite a good deal don’t you think? Some brands are not worth buying though. Mango, Zara and Bodyshop are more expensive than the shops in US even if it is on sale. Skip the Starbucks too.
Know the Malls
Familiarize yourself with the different shops. Central Department Store, Siam City, Siam Discovery and Siam Paragon houses high end brand items. MBK is the largest air-conditioned mall that houses tiangge type of stores where haggling is expected.
Expect tiangge atmosphere at the Fashion City Mall and street side stall shops at the Pratunam Market.
Chatuchak Weekend Market
This is Divisoria at 30 percent off! Open only on weekends, the best time to go is from 6-9 a.m. or 4-6 p.m. when it’s not so hot. Plus more goods from shirts, bags, shoes, toys, crafts, furniture, flowers, pets and other curios start coming out of the woodwork in the late afternoon.
Haggle it down to 50 percent. This is where our own tiangges get their products. And many stalls design and manufacture their own “made in Bangkok” products. Don’t be surprised if you happen to be haggling with the designer himself.
The author of this article is an earrings wholesaler from Bangkok.
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