Anyone who's been to Thailand will know that the shopping in Bangkok is second to none - you can literally shop 'til you drop! Prices are cheap, markets line the streets touting everything from fake designer wares to cheap leather sandals and tourist t-shirts, bargains are endless and haggling is a way of life. Many of the items for sale are the same throughout all the markets in Thailand so it's best to scout around for some original-looking buys.
Patpong night market is a must and great fun to wander through on a balmy Bangkok evening, though bear in mind this market is situated in the red light district of the city so don't be alarmed at the touts and half naked ladies outside the bars. Khao San road is also brimming with stalls selling all kinds of counterfeit clobber. Plenty of snacks and eats can also be found on the side of the road stalls, but watch out for some of the more unconventional Thai delicacies, such as deep fried locusts. The biggest market in Bangkok is the Chatuchak Weekend Market, with 15,000 stalls selling spices, leather goods, and practically everything under the sun that can fit inside a tourist's backpack.
The MBK Shopping Centre in Bangkok offers more expensive and better quality wares than the markets on the sides of the streets and prices here when converted are not much cheaper than in other countries. Other popular shopping malls include Central World, Erawan, Mah Boon Krong, and Panthip Plaza. Sukhumvit is the place to go for fashion, designer goods and custom-made suits.
Many shops are open seven days a week and 12 hours a day, while street markets have longer hours, often staying open until 11pm. VAT in Thailand is seven percent and this can be refunded on goods bought to the value of THB 2,000 (including VAT) in shops labelled 'VAT refund for tourists'. Forms must be completed at the point of purchase and your passport must be shown. Shoppers can obtain their cash refunds to the minimum value of THB 5,000 in the airport departure hall.
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