Thailand has the Tax Free system, or as it is called here the VAT Refund, which enables foreign tourists who leave the country to refund 7%-tax, which is imposed on all goods and services.
In order to do so, you need to purchase goods for at least 5 000 THB (each item can’t cost less than 2 000 THB at that) in shops that participate in the VAT Refund system: as a rule, they have a logo with corresponding inscription. Then go to the special department – Customer Service and ask for VAT Refund Application for Tourist (P.P. 10 form, yellow A4 blank). You need to show your passport. Then fill in the form and attach it to the original receipt.
You can return the tax when you leave Bangkok. It is possible only at the international airports in the capital. Before registration and luggage check-in, show your purchases and receipts at the VAT Refund Counter. After checking the goods customs officials stamp your receipts. Then, after registration and passport control, you should go to the special VAT Refund counter (located in departure lounge), where you can get your money back.
If the refund amount is less than 30 000 THB, you can receive it in cash, as a check or on your credit card account (Visa or MasterCard). If the amount of compensation is higher than 30 000 THB, it is given only as a bank check, which is sent per post, or is transferred on your credit card. Consider that a 100 THB processing fee is subtracted from the total refund amount.
Remember: in order to refund 7%-tax you must leave Bangkok no later than two month after making a purchase. Items, from the cost of which you want to return the 7%-tax, should not be used in Thailand.
Bangkok offers an impressive selection of souvenirs and mementos, which you can buy to decorate your own apartment or to present them as gifts to close people. These items include magnets, original statuettes, trinkets, interior decorations and much more.
The most popular things purchased by tourists leaving Bangkok are the famous Thai cosmetic and healthcare items. They are made from local herbs and oils, mainly coconut and jasmine ones. The items on sale include creams, balms, scrubs, masks and natural soap with exotic flavors (the latter is wrapped in thin paper with an elegant silver seal on tops). These goods are sold in dozens of department stores and in specialized healthcare shops. Other purchases include Thai coconut oil, which can be used as a cosmetic means or for cooking. It is an excellent-quality product that is sold at a rather reasonable price. We recommend you to purchase the oil at local pharmacies. Of notice are black tooth paste (its original color makes it a very popular gift) with ground charcoal and the famous Tiger balm. The latter is made from healing herbs and can help ease pain in joints and muscles. It was invented by a Chinese apothecary in the 1870s. There are several types of the balm: white, green, yellow and black ones. It is sold freely all around the place, including shops, pharmacies, markets and even gift stores.
The most precious items to buy are quality accessories made from snake and crocodile skin (belts, wallets/purses, handbags and more). Please note that these items must be purchased in official stores. The majority of these is concentrated around the Ratchaprasong Square. Bangkok also has a large collection of jewelry items on offer, featuring golden and silver pieces with precious and semi-precious stones: diamonds, rubies, topazes and jade stones. It would be wise to buy personal jewelry at specialized jewelry stores as well. For instance, there are several of these on Khaosan Road. Do not purchase jewelry offered by street vendors because they often sell fakes.
Other souvenirs that you can add to your wish-list include hand-made Thai silk wares, interesting bamboo decorations, wall mosaics, wooden figurines, ceramics, metal statuettes, and decorative candles. Quite popular are local beverages, namely Thai blue tea made from orchid leaves, rice wine Siam Sato, Sang Som rum, and Ya Dong. The latter is a stiff drink made from healing herbs with a spirited crawler inside (a scorpion, a snake, or a gecko). These beverages are available in many shops all around the city.
Tourists often purchase exotic fruit and bring them back home. Noteworthy are starfruit (carambola), jack-fruit, litchi, mangosteens, and rambutans. In case you want to buy some, it is a good idea to pick under-ripe fruits. Some supermarkets sell these packed in special baskets. However, it will not be a problem to buy a container for the fruits on your own.