Thailand shopping advice

Opening hours
Most small shops in Thailand are open from 8am till about 8 pm, while department stores, shopping malls and tourist shops typically open from 10am until 9pm or later in busy areas. Business days are normally Monday to Saturday, but most shops in Bangkok, tourist areas and resorts also opebn on Sundays and public holidays. During the Chinese and Thai new years (in February and April) many shops shut for several days.

Method of payment
The Thai Baht (cash) is always accepted throughout the country. Credit cards can be used in many stores in Bangkok, resorts and increasingly so in provincial towns. Visa and American Express are probably the most widely accepted, followed by MasterCard. Major shops usually take all major cards. Be aware, that many shops will add on a surcharge of up to five percent if you pay by credit card.

The trend in cities, especially Bangkok, is towards chain stores with fixed prices and endless discount sales.In small private shops you can negotiate the price as Thais love to bargain. There are few tips for succesful bargaining. Be aware of the going rate for items so as not to offer embarrassingly low sums. Talking in Thai numbers may restrain the vendor's initial bid. You can try faking disinterest if the seller's bids remain high. This is a better policy than entusiastically bargaining, then deciding not to buy when wendors agrees on your price.

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.

When buying expensive items, ask for a written receip (bai set) with the shop's address and tax number. Refunds are almost unheard of, but exchange of faulty or poorly fitting non-sale goods from reputable stores should be possible. In small shops you might succeed through charm.

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.

Buddha images from Thailand
Buddha images, Bodhisattva images of related fragments a part of ancient Monuments and Prehistoric objects, are forbidden to be taken out of the Kingdom. Newly cast complete Buddha Images can be exported for worship, cultural exchange or educational purposes with Licenses issued by the Fine Arts Department. Not more than 5 pieces per person shall be allowed. Antiquities can be exported with licenses.