Anyone who's been to Thailand will know that the shopping in
Bangkok is second to none. 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 visitors should bear in mind this market is situated in the red light district of the city, and shouldn'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 travellers should 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 over 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 there, when converted, are not much cheaper than in other countries. Other popular shopping malls include Central World, Erawan, and Panthip Plaza. Sukhumvit Road 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 passports must be shown. Shoppers can obtain their cash refunds on goods of the minimum total value of THB 5,000 in the airport departure hall.
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