My One Gripe About Shopping in Thailand: Why Are Imported Products So Expensive?

For the most part, Thailand is a shoppers paradise. There are more shopping malls in Bangkok than you could ever possibly need, with more going up every day. Its easy to find very cheap clothing, electronics and other stuff from malls like Platinum and Pantip. Markets are everywhere and you can haggle the price of almost everything.

However, theres one way in which shopping in Thailand isn’t such a good experience. Imported products, from clothing to food, cost an absolute fortune in Thailand due to the import taxes applied to basically everything.

Case in point: I wanted to buy a pair of formal shoes (I have to travel to a friends wedding in California in January). I looked at reviews online and found that good brands were Loake, which is made in the UK, and Allen Edmonds, which is made in the USA. I googled Allen Edmonds Bangkok to see if they were available here and couldn’t find anything. Luckily Loake is sold here in the department store in Siam Paragon.

I visited to try on a few pairs and choose the ones I liked. The price here is almost THREE TIMES as much as they cost in the UK. Im fine with paying 20% more, but paying three times the retail price for a pair of shoes is crazy.

Another example: Recently I wanted to buy a belt for jeans to wear casually, since my old belts are being torn apart. A nice leather belt in Thailand (made in Italy, imported) cost twice as much as it would in any Western country.

Im not the first person to notice this. There are hundreds of threads on Thai Visa about the cost of imported goods (wine, in particular, is ridiculously overpriced here) and many other bloggers have commented on this before. Its not just shoes; everything thats made outside of Thailand or China is highly overpriced in 99% of Thai shops.

I ended up buying some Allen Edmonds loafers¬†and having them shipped here. It costs slightly more than it would to get them in the UK, but I at least get them at a price thats close to the regular retail price. Hopefully they don’t get held at customs on the way here, which would mean I have to pay another huge tax to receive them in Thailand.

I like living in Thailand a lot and love shopping here, if its for cheap things like locally made clothing or electronics, but the prices for imported goods in Thailand need to get more reasonable if the malls want people to shop here instead of flying to Singapore or Hong Kong, or buying o