Bangkok, the New Shopping Destination?

Bangkok could possibly be the next shopping destination if not hinder by its steeper price compared to Singapore, KL and Jakarta. Not so long ago, Bangkok is not easily reached and not on our list as cheap destination. The easiest way to get to Bangkok is by flying Thai Airways and the ticket alone can set you back for $500 if you purchase it early and normal rate would be up to $800. Nowadays with Air Asia direct flight from Jakarta to Bangkok, as the motto goes, everyone can now fly to Bangkok. If you’re an avid watcher of Air Asia special fare, you would be amazed of how cheap the ticket will cost. Last weekend I checked the return flight of Jakarta – Bangkok with 20kg luggage will cost me around Rp1,200,000. Never in the past had I ever imagine that Bangkok would be so accessible like Singapore.

Following the cheap airfare from Air Asia, some national carriers such as Garuda Airline and Malaysia Airline sometime offer special price for this destination. My mom, who went on a large group last October got a pretty good tour package using Malaysia Airline for below $400 including accommodation at 3 stars hotel for 4 nights.

Accommodation are reasonably priced, you can get good 4 stars hotel at $60-$100 and if you want to get a posh accommodation expect to pay more. For decent newer 3 stars hotel, you can easily get it at $40 to $50, for instance I once stayed in Ibis Siam for $40 and I’m quite happy because it’s located near the bustling part of the town so taking taxi anywhere wouldn’t be pricey. The hotel is clean and new and very comfortable even for those staying alone. For family traveling in large group, you may wish to lodge in service apartment which usually are bigger in size. Of course there will always be the Khao San area which offers cheap accommodation and quite famous among the backpacker.

If you’re not willing to commute by taxi because of Bangkok heavy traffic, be willing to pay more for accommodation near the Sukhumvit area where most of the upmarket shopping mall are located. Most of these shopping malls are connected by elevated walkway and the best spot are those near the sky train or BTS station Asok or Siam. Getting out of this part of Sukhumvit during rush hour can set you back for 100 THB. So BTS or walking is really convenient. Make sure you check the location of your hotel and the distance to nearest BTS, if you prefer it as your transportation mode.

Getting Baht would probably be a big challenge since it’s not easily found in Jakarta. The exchange rate can vary from Rp 295 to Rp 310 and because of the small nomination, the smallest difference in exchange rate would affect your conversion. I would suggest to bring US dollar instead because Indonesian money would not be so valuable in Thailand. $100 could get you from 3,280 to 3,320 THB which will be translated to around Rp280 to Rp292 per THB maximum.

Know your benefit as a tourist. Going to the information desk at the mall or department store would probably beneficial. Some department store offer 5% to 7% discount for tourist. On top of that, you can also redeem your VAT when you depart from Thailand in the VAT Refund counter at the airport. Get your VAT refund form from the information desk at the department store to claim your refund. This has to be done within the same day.

If you’re planning a visit to Bangkok, or Thailand in general, trust the FDers to give answer to your question. Visit our Bangkok & Thailand thread at the forum for your source of information.

*photo courtesy of www.bangkok.com