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Bangkok - Shopping

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A value-added tax (VAT) of 7% is imposed on many goods and services. Hotels and restaurants may also add an additional 10% service tax. The consumer taxes are sometimes referred to as 'plus plus' or '++', which adds up to 17%.

There is a huge variety of shopping options for food both fresh produce as well as cooked food / restaurants in Bangkok to choose from. Many expatriates will quickly realize that Bangkok has an excellent distribution of shops and eateries throughout the city no matter where expatriates choose to live in the city, it would not be difficult to find a shopping and entertainment center located nearby.

For groceries, Villa Supermarket is often touted as the supermarket chain that offers the best range of imported foods and products. There are 12 locations throughout Bangkok city, and expatriates can shop online at their website. Foodland is another option, and this supermarket chain has a good selection of wines and fresh breads. There are 11 stores located throughout Bangkok. Tops Supermarket, Tops Marketplace and City Market are all owned by the same operator, and they are the largest supermarket chain in Bangkok, with 65 stores located throughout Bangkok city. Some of the branches have cooked food / food halls that are convenient to pick up a hot meal. UFM Fuji Super offers mostly Japanese products, with three stores located in Bangkok. Isetan is another option for Japanese food. For Indian/Pakistani/Desi cuisine, there are a few Bimala stores located in Bangkok to stock up on the spices, pulses and other ingredients. Makro is a bulk-purchasing store.

Bangkok's Chinatown (near Pahurat) is a good place to stock up on ingredients used mainly in Chinese cooking. Sukhumvit Soi 3 has a small Arab / Black African community, and the shops around this area offer reasonably priced Middle-eastern fare and spices for Middle-eastern cooking.

International hypermarts, such as Britain's Tesco-Lotus or France's Carrefour and Big C, offer not only a range of international and local foods, but also imported general household products. These hypermarts are fast becoming as iconic as MacDonald's, with reasonably priced products and a tried-and-tested formula that is replicated in cities around the world. Expatriates who are familiar with hypermarts around the world will be comforted by the heavy presence of hypermarts in Bangkok. These hypermarts offer dining, entertainment and shopping, all under one roof, and are immensely popular with expatriate and local families alike, especially on weekends.

Red meat, in particular inexpensive quality ground beef or lamb can be hard to find in Bangkok. Coffee drinkers may also find the variety of coffee and cafes limited, although this is rapidly changing.

While most expatriates can find most of their imported products at one of the many supermarkets or hypermarts, the local markets in Bangkok are the place to find exotic ingredients and local fresh produce, in particular fresh fruit. Expatriates looking to experience how the locals eat and shop may want to venture into one of the many markets located all over Bangkok. Some markets specialize in one type of produce, for example, the Pak Khlong Flower Market or Thewet Plant and Flower Market that sells mainly fresh flowers and vegetables. (In addition, the Thewet Market also sells potted plants). The Talat Sam Yan is located in central Bangkok and offers a wide range of seafood, tea and coffee, and gourmet Chinese ingredients like mushrooms.

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