Thailand Shopping

What to Buy

Thai silk, cotton,nielloware,silverware,bronzeware, pottery and celadon, pewter, precious stones, finished jewellery and a dazzling range of folk handicrafts make memorable gifts and souvenirs. International standard ready-made sportswear and leisurewear is inexpensive and quality tailors and dressmakers offer reliable 24-hour service in Bangkok and major tourist destination.

Clothing : We're one of the world's leading manufacturers of ready-to-wear clothing. Fashion boutiques are found in every shopping mall, while cheaper clothing such as T-shirts and jeans are available at bargain prices from street vendors. Custom tailoring is also very affordable and tailors can produce or copy most styles in just a few days.

Silk : Probably the most famous of all our kingdom's handicrafts, silk is available in a range of colours, patterns and plys, and is sold by the yard, or as ready-made clothing and souvenir items. A unique style of Thai silk is Mat Mee, a tie-dye silk traditional to the North-east. The best known outlet for Thai silk is undoubtedly Jim Thompson's shop at the top of Surawong Road in Bangkok.

Tailorsuits

Cotton & Batik : Our Thai cottons have become increasingly popular and are a good deal. Particularly notable are the hilltribe cottons woven by the tribal people of the North, typically displaying bold designs and often lavish embroidery. Equally distinctive are original batiks crafted at several studios in Bangkok.

Pewterware : Pewter is fashioned with great skill by Thai craftsmen, and the smooth, silky finish of this attractive alloy is enhanced by delicate relief decoration. Pewterware items include plates, boxes, vases and pocket flasks.

Peterware

Antiques : Thai, Chinese, Burmese and Khmer antiques are excellent buys. There is an export ban on certain pieces, particularly Buddha images. Other pieces may require an export license, but any reputable dealer will be able to advise on restrictions and any necessary documentation.

Ceramics : Both traditional and contemporary styles of pottery are available throughout our kingdom. Best known are the distinctive sea-green celadons from the Sukothai area, and the central provinces' colourful Benjarong (five color) porcelain, which are unique to our country.

Nielloware : Practiced in the South for hundreds of years, nielloware is the craft of decorating gold and silver objects with delicate etched designs filled with a metal ware. Nielloware trays, boxes, vases and other items are some of our best buys.

Lacquerware : A specialty of Chiang-Mai and the north, this craft involves coating split bamboo or wood with lacquer, then adding intricate hand-painted designs typically gold-on-black lacquer or yellow and green on a red brown background. Look out for lacquerware bowls, boxes, trays and other items for decoration or for souvenirs.

Nielloware

Gem : Bangkok is the coloured gemstone capital of the world. Rubies and sapphires are indigenous stones, but virtually all coloured gems, as well as diamonds, are available. Shoppers should exercise caution and buy from reputable dealers only.

Furniture : Rattan and rosewood furniture items are available in many designs and styles and can also be made to order. Shops in Bangkok and Chiang Mai have a wide selection and can arrange shipment overseas.

Hilltribe Crafts : The tribal groups who live in the hills of the north make a variety of beautifully embroidered textiles and silver jewellery. Chiang Mai is the centre for such goods.

Thai Orchids : We're famous for our huge variety of orchids and their magnificent colours and durable beauty make them a popular purchase. Specially packaged flowers, complete with water supply, are easily transported and can be conveniently purchased at Bangkok International Airport.

Thai Orchid

Shopping Tips

Fixed prices are the norm in department stores and a number of shops in Bangkok, but at most other places bargaining is acceptable and expected. Generally, shopping in Thailand is easy, fun and very rewarding, but the following advice is useful especially when making gem and jewellery purchases :

  • Shop around to compare prices - this is especially important with gems and jewellery.
  • Obtain a receipt for goods bought and check if is correct before leaving the shop
  • Never let a tout or new found friend take you shopping. Stores give commission to these people, and the cost is reflected in the price you pay.
  • In general, jewellery items cannot be returned. If refunds are allowed, then often 25-30% of the selling price will be deducted as costs of damages.
  • More reputable companies may offer a full refund although usually only within a certain time limit, such as 30 days. Do not believe any claims by shop owners that purchases can be refunded at Thai embassies, consulates or other government offices overseas.
  • Reputable shops will give a written agreement to a full refund on any goods returned within 90 days. If a shop refuses to do this, go elsewhere.
  • Shops in hotel arcades pay high rents and accordingly prices tend to be higher than at street shops. On the other hand, hotel arcades are very convenient if you have little time for shopping.

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 Office also offers a parcel-wrapping service for those who want to make small shipments themselves. For larger items or bulk shipments, there are several Bangkok companies who specialise in such matters.

VAT Refund

Visitors entering the Kingdom on tourist visas are entitled to refunds of the 7% value added tax (VAT) paid on goods purchased at shops, department stores and other retail outlets displaying " VAT Refund for Tourists " signs, where tax refund application forms are available. Prior to airport departure, visitors must present a completed VAT refund form, plus passport information and purchase receipts, to a customs officer. Certain luxury goods must be shown to an excise official. Refunds may be in bank draft form or credited to a credit card. For more information, please contact the VAT Refunds for Tourists Office, Tel: 0 2272 9388 or VAT Refund Office at Bangkok International Airport Tel : 02535 6577-8 The Tourism Authority of Thailand receives over 1,000 complaints a year about fake jewellery purchases. To avoid being a statistic, you must stay alert to the warning signs of a swindle at work. Heeding our warning could help you stave off unpleasent surprises and make your vacation what it should be - full of sparkle.
The following are valuable pointers for your protection :

  • Be wary of any encounter that ends up requiring your presence in a gem shop. Most probably it is a scam.
  • Buying gems or jewellery to resell at double or triple the purchase prices is an impossible proposition under any circumstances. Buy jewellery only for personal satisfaction for your own use or for loved ones.
  • Make price comparisons in various shops before deciding to buy. Never be in a hurry.
  • Never mail sapphires or other precious stones. Carry valuable items with you.
  • Do not believe special (jewellery) sales of any kind. Reputable dealers hardly ever offer sales and never send touts to lure tourists to their stores.
  • There are no promotions, shows or special sales on jewelry authorized by the government or any official agencies at any time of the year.
  • The government does not own, operate, subsidize, or authorize any jewellery stores.
  • As far as you can, take time to verify all claims. Words, promises, personal guarantees, unchecked documents, unauthorized verbal or written statements, casual references, encounters and the like do not constitute verification. Remember, you are your own best protection.
  • All Thai embassies, consulates or any delegations abroad are neither bound nor responsible for refunding goods that are bought in Thailand.

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