Thailand shopping is one of tourist's favourite things to do when visiting and the country is renowned for its excellent value shopping. However, in order to make the most of your Thailand shopping it's handy to know where and when to shop, how to bargain, types of payment accepted, potential return policies and of course, all about the VAT refund and how it can be processed.
While shopping in major malls or department stores, it is important to remember that prices are usually fixed and an attempt to haggle would be rude. However, almost everywhere else in Thailand expects bargaining to take place, particularly at local and night markets. Even if something displays a price, you can usually get between 10-40% off if you haggle well. It's important to remember that most shopkeepers enjoy this process and if you display good manners and a big smile, your sense of humour will go a long way to getting you a great price. Walking away is also a great tactic for getting a heavily discounted price as often shopkeepers will shout a lower figure trying to lure you back.
In Thailand, a VAT or Value Added Tax is applied to the price of goods. The rate is applied at 7%, however visitors to Thailand can claim a refund of this tax if their purchases total 5000 Baht or more and have been bought at a minimum of 2000 Baht per day. The refund will only apply if the goods are taken from Thailand within 2 months of their purchase date. It is recommended that visitors try to do most of their Thailand shopping at retailers who display a VAT Refund sign. To claim the refund visitors much keep their receipts and complete a refund application form at the time of purchase. They must also keep their purchases separate from their luggage at the time of departure for checking and validation.
Although Thailand shopping has a reputation for its great value, it is important to remember that quality varies and that there are also many counterfeit goods for sale in Thailand. Unless you are purchasing brand name goods from an official retailer, you can almost guarantee they will be fakes. Visitors should also be careful when purchasing jewellery and electronic goods and should always enquire about return policies before buying.