Shopping Experiences in Bangkok
There is ample shopping opportunity in Bangkok. We just want to tell you some personal experiences and give you some limited advice.
While there are many smaller operators, the department stores in Bangkok and Thailand can be divided into two group : Central Group (Central World, Central Department Stores, Robinson Department Stores) and the Mall Group (the Mall Department Stores, Emporium, Siam Paragon). There are two major do-it-yourself chains, HomeWorks (Central) and HomePro (Plus).
View of Sukhumvit road from the Queen Sirikit Convention Center (with an overcast sky).
You may find most (but not all) you need in these department stores or hardware stores. However one should not forget that individual companies or brands will still have there own shops and service centers around the city. Frequently though, these shops will be oddly located, not really looking intently for customers. As a general rule (and if can locate the store), we think it is actually a better option to buy your goods directly from the distributor.
Provided service from individual distributors may also be better.
Life Center, a small niche shopping mall, where you find many health related shops and services. Located on Sathorn Road, close to the Lumpini subway station.
Service may also however be duly lacking from major manufacturers. There is a consistent problem of finding replacement parts or accessories, after buying hardware.
As an example, air purifiers are widely available in Bangkok's department stores. You can choose between many different international brands (Honeywell, Bionair, Scana, Philips, etc.). The problem is, just try to get replacement filters afterwards! You likely won't find them at the department stores.
You will be advised to contact the local dealer or a service center, which may be located on the outskirts of Bangkok, and not reply to e-mails or telephone calls. The message is, department stores and shopping plazas can sell you a lot, but after sales service may be limited.
For repairs of electrical appliances (maybe after the warranty expired), we can suggest you check out Amorn Electronics Center on the 4th floor at Fortune Town. They seem to be quite willing to have a look at your equipment and repair it, also if you did not buy from them.
Some more facts :
- For accessories and replacement parts after your sale, it is worthwhile to look for them online. You may be more likely to find them there, and it is often cheaper (including transport and import taxes) to have them shipped to you from abroad.
- Prices for certain products may be different at branches of the same retailer.
- Promotions and discounts are a feature at all department stores in Bangkok. There is hardly any period when the 'regular' prices apply.
- Always ask for a discount, even in fancy shops. Sales can create commissions for the shop assistant, who will know exactly how far he can lower the price.
- If you stay long-term in Bangkok, use the discount cards provided by the department stores. Although benefits are limited, after a few months or years you can accumulate some money.
- Staff often works on commission of individual brands. If you start talking to someone representing Panasonic, do not expect him/her to relate to you the latest good sales from Sony!
- You are often not allowed to survey the goods yourself. More often than not you will be accosted by staff. This is accepted standard in Thailand (and I think Asia). Just chase them away politely, and ask for their assistance when necessary.
- Goods at the airport may be taxfree, but nevertheless are almost invariably more expensive than downtown (contrary to the practice in Europe). Do not buy anything at the airport.
Garbage Scavenger in a sidestreet of Sukhumvit Road. Walk around for just half an hour on any Bangkok street, and you will see this profession at work.