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Thailand - Shopping

Shopping in Thailand is considered to be a pleasant experience, with most areas having a wide variety of stores to choose from, even for day to day requirements. Most towns have busy marketplaces and in more upmarket areas there are department stores which stay open until late in the evening and sell a wide variety of goods.

In areas where there are many expats there are shops which import groceries from the US or the UK although in other areas the customer can still find a good choice on offer. One of the main supermarkets for groceries is Villa Market and this is favoured by expats. These can be found mainly in the Bangkok and surrounding areas. Other supermarkets which are popular with foreigners are Foodland which also covers most of the Bangkok area and Tops Market, which can be found both as stand-alone stores and outlets in some department stores.

In addition to these stores there are a number of foreign supermarkets which are beginning to get a foothold in Thailand. These include Tesco, Carrefour, Big C and Makro. Tesco and Makro are both British stores, although Makro is more of a bulk-buy warehouse. Both Carrefour and Big C originate in France. These stores can also be found in other areas of the country as well as Bangkok. The Tesco stores are generally very large supermarkets which carry a wide range of goods.

Health food shops are becoming increasingly popular in Thailand although these tend to be independent and family owned. Much of the produce is organic although the range is not as wide as is available in health food stores in the US or the UK.

Many of the goods that are available in supermarkets in Thailand are imported so expats are sure to see brands that they recognise. There is little need to import anything yourself although having goods sent to the country is fairly easy, although depending upon the area that you are in the deliveries can take a while to reach you.

Many shops are open 7 days a week in Thailand, particularly in the cities. Most will be open at the latest at 10 am and although some will shut at around 6 pm, there are those which stay open later, such as the department stores. There are sales which take place regularly, particularly in the main shopping areas of the city, so most shops will have them every few months to move old stock before a new range is launched.

There is currently no Thai equivalent to eBay available although it is possible to use the standard www.ebay.com and have the goods shipped to Thailand if you are prepared to pay for the postage. Online stores such as Amazon will also deliver to Thailand.

When paying for items customers are able to use both cash and debit cards, although in smaller rural stores cash is the preferred option and some shops will not take a debit card at all. It should be noted that the smaller denomination coins are often not accepted by smaller shops as they are generally very rarely used.

In Thailand if you have an issue with an item that you have bought your first port of call should be the shop that you bought it from. They will often exchange it for you although it is only on a very rare occasion that a refund is issued. When you purchase goods in Thailand you have the right to ask to see them working before you leave the shop with them, particularly electrical goods. You should always ensure that you get a receipt and you usually have 7 days in which to request an exchange of an item if it is necessary.

Thailand has a consumer protection act which covers customers although there are no major consumer protection organisations. This gives consumers the right to have a fair and honest description of the item or service they are paying for, freedom of choice when selecting goods, the right to expect items which are safe to use and the right to adequate compensation in the event of a problem. Those who enforce the Act have the right to take goods to be tested to ensure that customers are getting a fair deal, the right to seize goods which are not compliant with the Act and the right to prosecute those who are selling substandard goods.

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