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KNOW ABOUT THAILAND MARKET & BAZAR

Banglamphu Market

Bo Bae Market

Chatuchak Weekend Market, Bangkok 

China Town, Yaowarat

Floating Markets

Klong Thom Market

Klong Toey Market

Lang Krasuang/ Woeng Nakhon Kasem Market 

Muang Min Market

Night Bazaar, Chiang Mai

Or Tor Kor Market (Marketing Organization for Farmers)  

Pak Klong Market

Patpong Market

Pratunam Market

Silom Road

Soi Lalai Sap

Suan lum Night Bazaar

Tha Sadet Market, Nong Khai

Thewet Market

THAILAND SHOPPING CENTERS

Central Department Store

Emporium Department Store

Gaysorn Plaza 

MBK Center   

Pantip Plaza

River City Shopping Complex

Siam Paragon, The Pride of Bangkok 

The Peninsula Plaza 

WHAT TO BUY

WHERE TO SHOP

SHOPPING ADVICE / TIPS

PACKING AND SHIPPING SERVICES

TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

VAT REFUND

For any further assistance and help, please contact us for free:

Thai Bazaar Intertrade Co., Ltd,

378, Sukumvit 101/1, Bangkok-10260, Thailand.

Tel.: +66 866 155100

email: info@thailandbazar.com

======================================================================

Banglamphu Market

Banglamphu in these days is famous for its cheap tourist guest houses, bars and restaurants. However, the area has long been a popular shopping destination among the Thais.

The Banglamphu market, extending across Chakraphong, Phra Sumen, Tanao and Rambutri Roads, is particularly good for inexpensive ready-made garments, handbags, shoes, cosmetics, accessories and trinkets.

Like many other markets in Bangkok, bargaining is essential to get a good price. Letting a Thai friend do the bargaining for you is probably a good idea (but takes out some of the fun). 

Bo Bae Market

Bo Bae is a famous market located in central Bangkok, popular for its incredibly cheap garments. Located on Krung Kasem Road, east of Banglampoo, Bo Bae is active all day, but busiest by far in the early mornings.

Bo Bae is mainly a wholesale market, most products being sold by the dozen or more. If you're willing to buy in bulk you won't get a cheaper price anywhere else. But if you only want single items, you may not be able to buy any at all. Fresh flowers can also be picked up here.

Chatuchak Weekend Market, Bangkok 

The Chatuchak market is the city's largest market, replacing the former flea market, which was located at Sanam Luang from 1948 to 1982. Chatuchak, often known as Talat J.J., occupies an area of more than 70 rai (35 acres) with 15,000 shops and stalls. The market attracts 200,000 visitors daily on Saturdays and Sundays, while certain sections of the market are open on weekdays too.

Chatuchak sells just about everything. Large sections of the huge open-air expanse are dedicated to plants and gardening equipment; pets; antiques and curios; fresh and dried foods; ceramics and home decor items; clothes; books; and gift items. There are also more than 400 food outlets with everything from a la carte cuisine to a lovely bowl of noodles or a plate of somtam.

All sections of Chatuchak Market are open on weekends from as early as 7.00 am to 6.00 pm. In the afternoon, the place gets hot and steamy, so serious shoppers should take along loose, cool clothing and plenty of water to drink. Bargaining is necessary if you want to get a decent price; going along with a Thai friend to do the bargaining for you would be an even better idea. In recent years, some of the shops have started overcharging tourists, even the noodle shops.

Chatuchak Weekend Market is located on Phahonyothin and Kamphaengphet Roads, in northern Bangkok. The market adjoins a large park, Suan Chatuchak, where the Thais go for recreation, to relax or for a jog. The main entrance to Chatuchak Market is close to Morchit BTS Station. Numerous buses also pass by the entrance to the market.

Things to buy at Chatuchak Weekend Market are in its 27 sections:

Section 1 Amulets, books, collectibles, food shops, cafe

Section 2 to 4 Collectibles, home decor, paintings, terra cotta

Section 5 to 6 Clothes, adornments, miscellaneous products

Section 7 to 9 Antiques, furniture, ceramics, handicrafts

Section 10 to 24 Clothes, consumer products, adornments, household appliances, pets

Section 17 to 19 Ceramics, fresh and dry food

Section 22 to 26 Antiques, furniture, handicrafts

Dream section Book, food and dessert shops, collectibles

How to get there: Chatuchak is easy to get to. Mochit BTS leads directly to Chatuchak’s entrance and it also has its own MRT station – Chatuchak.

A taxi fare from the centre of Bangkok will cost around 80-90 Baht.

The following buses will get you there:

Air-conditioned bus: 2, 3, 8, 10, 11, 12, 18, 19, 23, 29, 34, 38, 39, 44, 77, 146

Bus number: 3, 8, 26, 27, 28, 29, 34, 38, 39, 44, 52, 59, 63, 77, 96, 104, 108, 112, 134, 138, 145

Contact: Tel: +66 2 272-4441, ext: 103

China Town, Yaowarat

Bangkok's Chinatown or the other name Sumpeng is located on Yaowarat Road in Samphanthawong district.

The Chinatown is an old business centre covering a large area around Yaowarat and Charoen Krung Roads. There are many small streets and alleys full of shops and vendors selling all types of goods to shopping. One of the best places to shop in Thailand. 

Floating Markets

Thailand's floating markets are among the most-photographed destinations in the country. The river and 'klong' markets give a realistic glance of how daily life must have been in earlier times. The floating markets are where the sellers, their boats laden with a wide variety of tropical fruits, flowers, vegetables and fresh produce, come to meet and barter their products with other traders. These days, modern supermarkets and department stores have largely replaced the traditional floating markets, but a few still survive.

The most popular floating market, one of the must-see one-day trips from Bangkok, is at Ratchaburi, about 101 km to the west of Bangkok. The Ratchaburi market is the largest of its kind, attracting a large number of tourists each day. The lively and colorful images of boat vendors trading their agricultural products is one of the most fascinating and endearing images of Thailand.

There are also some interesting floating markets in Bangkok itself. The Taling Chan floating market is a weekend market in front of Taling Chan district office. Another one is the Wat Sai market in Bangkok's Thonburi area.

Efforts are being made to revive the old markets and reorganize them to support tourism. One example is the Wat Lam Phaya floating market in Nakhon Pathom, which was recently recreated and is now being promoted.

The best way to fully appreciate a floating market is to hire a long-tailed boat for the day. A tour along the klongs also gives you an appreciation of Thai homes and gardens. Don't forget to get up real early for a trip to see the markets. Usually they kick off at dawn, and most traders have already gone back home by late morning.

Klong Thom Market

The Klong Thom Market is located near Chinatown in the area around Mahachak Road and Soi Chong Charoen Phanit. This market is the place for hardware, tools and related materials.

One area of this market also specializes in antiques and electrical items, although some of the decrepit old-looking items may not come under a strict definition of 'antique'.

Klong Toey Market

Several markets are located under the Expressway interchange at Klong Toey. These markets, known variously as Singapore, Hong Kong or Penang - supposedly named after the origin of the cargo ships that the products 'dropped off', all merge into one large, very inexpensive all-purpose market.

Electrical appliances, garments, household items, tools, etc., are the main items on sale here. There's also a fresh market selling meat, fish, vegetables and the like, which is worth a stroll around just for the sights and smells.

The Klong Toey markets are among the cheapest to be found anywhere, but quality and hygiene leave a lot to be desired and the location is non too salubrious. The markets are located at the intersection of Rama IV and At Narong Roads.

Lang Krasuang/ Woeng Nakhon Kasem Market 

Located on Atsadang Road and in the many alleys off New Road in the Chinatown district, these two adjoining markets are among the city's best sites for moderately priced second-hand goods. The word 'Lang Krasuang' means the area behind the office of Ministry of Interior.

Electrical appliances, musical instruments, clothing and outdoor gear are the main buys. You need to bargain over the prices here and it's always a good idea to come along with a Thai friend to get them to do the haggling while you stand out of sight some distance away.

Muang Min Market

Muang Min Market is a suburban offshoot of Bangkok's famous Chatuchak Market. Located on Suwintawong Road in Minburi district, Muang Min offers goods similar to Chatuchak but without the overcrowding and the traffic congestion with as many as 360 stalls.

Merchandise on sale at Muang Min includes clothing, interior decor items, pets such as birds, ornamental fish and accessories, fresh and dried foods and organically grown fruit and vegetables. Muang Min also has an impressive range of plants for both home and garden.

On Saturdays you can get a free haircut at the market. Representatives of the Community Development Center teach members of the public cookery or new crafts which can be used to earn additional income. Muang Min also has an auction of items from the BMA's pawnshops, held on the last Saturday of every month.

The new Ratchayothin Market opens from 8.00 am to 6.00 pm. Parking for up to 500 vehicles is available. The market is located opposite the Ratchayothin Major Cineplex. Air-conditioned bus Nos 3, 9, 12, 13, 22, 24, 26, 34, 39, 49, 107, 124, 126, 206 and Micro Bus Nos 2, 8, 11 and 16 pass the site.

Night Bazaar, Chiang Mai

The Night Bazaar, or Kad Luang (Royal Market) as it is know by locals, is one of Chiang Mai's biggest draws. Located right in the centre of the city on Ping River, it is easily accessible and if you are in Chiang Mai a visit is almost obligatory. The market attracts huge crowds every evening and it is a great place to pick up trinkets and gifts. Given the market’s close proximity to the companies that manufacture them, the price of local handicrafts is attractively cheap here.

The market has huge arcades which hold a multitude of shops and stalls. The place is so packed that stalls actually spill over onto the footpaths around the market. It’s a big place to wander around, and you should put away at least a couple of hours to do it. Aside from local handicrafts, you can buy virtually anything you can think of at the market – ‘Rolex’ watches, silk, jewelry and more high-tech items like TVs and DVD plays and CDs. As with many markets, the Night Bazaar also offers some of the best street food you are likely to come across. Catering for the large number of foreigners visiting, the bazaar also offers camera shops, travel agents and internet cafes. Be prepared to bargain – to get the best price you will have to. One service the bazaar offers that seems eternally popular is portrait paintings from photos. Alternatively, have your portrait painted in Thai costume!

How to get there: The Night Bazaar is on Chang Klan Road between Tha Pae Road and Si Donchai Road. If you are staying in Chiang Mai it is probably within walking distance, but if you want to take a Tuk-Tuk the fare will be around 20 Baht from the centre of town.

Or Tor Kor Market (Marketing Organization for Farmers)

Talat Or Tor Kor, across from Chatuchak Market on Kamphaengphet II Road in northern Bangkok, sells all types of tropical plants, aquatic plants including water lilies and grasses, plant pots varying in size from a couple of inches through to huge water butts, baskets, composts and fertilizers, and all manner of gardening equipment. Several shops specialize in particular types of plant, such as bromeliads, palms, orchids or lilies.

This plant market, which opens daily, is generally quieter than Chatuchak just across the road, the plants are usually cheaper and the service is better. Take a stroll through Or Tor Kor if you want to escape from the heat and crowds at Chatuchak.

Parking is available within the Marketing Organization compound. Morchit and Saphan Kwai BTS Stations are located close by.

Pak Klong Market

Pak Klong Talat is the city's largest flower wholesale market. Literally meaning 'market at the mouth of the canal', Pak Klong Market is actually five adjoining markets which have merged into one big center for flowers, fruits and vegetables. The market is located at the end of Klong Lord on Maha Rat Road, not far from the Memorial Bridge.

Don't forget to take along your camera when you visit Pak Klong Market and don't be afraid to try out some of the exotic fruits on sale there.

Patpong Market

The strip of pavement along the north side of Silom and the entire pedestrian precinct of Patpong are transformed into a busy market for garments and other products after sunset.

In the daytime, Silom Road functions as Bangkok's center for business, banking and commerce. During the night, it turns into a lively entertainment zone and night market.

The main products on sale are ready-to-wear garments with many brand-name items. Please be aware that the brand-name items are cheap imitations. Also available are pirate tapes and CDs, watches, various Thai handicrafts, games, leather items, household ornaments and the like. Bargaining is a must at this lively market, which flanks some of Bangkok's notorious night spots.

The Patpong/Silom night market gets going after normal working hours and continues until well after midnight. The market adjoins the Saladaeng BTS Station on Silom Road.

Dozens more small boutiques and shops can be found just around the corner, along the northern side of Silom Road. Branches of Central and Robinson's department stores and several shopping plazas are also located on Silom Road.

Patpong (Thai: พัฒน์พงษ์, "Phatphong") is an entertainment district in Bangkok, Thailand, catering mainly, though not exclusively, to foreign tourists and expatriates. While Patpong is internationally known as a red light district at the heart of Bangkok's sex industry, the city in fact has numerous red-light districts that are far more popular with Thai men. A busy night market aimed at tourists is also located in Patpong.

Pratunam Market

Located at the intersection of Petchaburi and Rajaprarop Roads, Pratunam is famous as one of Bangkok's best and biggest centers for ready-to-wear clothes, shoes and fabrics. It's also one of the cheapest places in town.

Packed end to end with street stalls and countless peddlers, Pratunam attracts large crowds of shoppers, Thais and tourists alike. Open-air restaurants, a shopping complex and the Baiyoke II Tower, the tallest hotel in Southeast Asia, are located here. The Baiyoke I Tower has a variety of handicrafts, fabrics, home decorations and other items on sale. A number of small stalls here offer clothing at even lower wholesale prices. Come for your shopping at any time of the day or night as many of the shops stay open 24 hours.

Silom Road

Si Lom (or Silom, Thai: สีลม) is a road in Bang Rak district, Bangkok, Thailand. It is an entertainment and shopping district in Thailand's capital, adjacent to Sathorn business district and Patpong area. This causes a heavy load of traffic not only during rush hours that is considered to be the densest of the city.

Soi Lalai Sap

Soi Lalai Sap is one of Bangkok's most popular lunch-time shopping areas, located next to the Bangkok Bank head office on Silom Road. Kicking off just before noon and winding up shortly after the office lunch break on weekdays only, Soi Lalai Sap gets packed with workers from the nearby offices searching for clothing, especially office gear, leather goods, food, gifts and other knick-knacks.

You'll probably end up parting with some cash in this market whose name, coincidentally, literally means 'vanishing money'.

Suan lum Night Bazaar

Suan Lum Night Bazaar is a market in Bangkok's Pathum Wan district, at the intersection of Rama IV and Wireless/Sathorn Roads, opposite Lumphini Park at the Bangkok Metro's Lumpini station. When locals refer to this market in English they call it "Night Plaza". Located on land owned by the Crown Property Bureau, it opened in 2001. The lease on the property ran out in 2006 and the market was supposed to close in 2007. 

Tha Sadet Market, Nong Khai

This place is essentially the main pier for the ferry across the Mekhong River to Tha Dua in Laos. However, Tha Sadet has also become the focal point for local trade between this part of Thailand and neighboring Laos. The market here is often called the ‘Indochina Market’ because goods sold here are mainly from across the region, but there are also a lot of items from the former Eastern bloc countries and of course local produce. It makes for interesting shopping – clothes, kitchen utensils, food and fishing equipment… It’s all here at rock bottom prices! Taking it home will be difficult though…

Details: Although traders from Thailand are allowed to go into Laos for three days and a time and vice versa, everyone else needs a visa. Officially visas have to be obtained from the Laotian Embassy in Bangkok so you won’t be diving over the border without the proper paperwork. However, there has been some relaxation recently to promote tourism. You can cross the border for 15 days if you:

- Hold a return or onward ticket and a visa for your next destination

- Holds have a bank statement showing a minimum of $400 (or life insurance policy for the same amount)

- Can prove you have a contact based in Laos

- Have a confirmed hotel reservation in Laos

- Are prepared to pay $30 for a visa stamp!

However, these are only relaxations and if you visit to the area is going to include a trip to Laos, talk to their Embassy first. The market is open daily.

How to get there: The easiest way to get to Tha Sadet Market from the centre of Nong Khai is Songtaew.

 

Thewet Market

Thewet (sometimes Thewes) Market is a long-established center for plants and garden equipment located along both sides of Klong Phadung Krung off Samsen Road, not far from Banglampoo.

A broad selection of tropical plants and flowers for the home or garden are on sale at good prices. Compost, fertilizers, pots and various garden accessories can also be picked up here. Thewet Market is open every day.

For any further assistance and help, please contact us for free:

Thai Bazaar Intertrade Co., Ltd,

378, Sukumvit 101/1, Bangkok-10260,Thailand.

Tel.: +66 866 155100

email: info@thailandbazar.com

======================================================================

Central Department Store

The Central Group of Companies has steadily evolved into a vast business conglomerate bestriding the retail, marketing, real estate, hotel and fast food sectors in Thailand. With its proven track record and dynamic potential to meet the ever-changing needs of consumers, the group is in an unparalleled position to profit from the competitive business environment.

Emporium Department Store

The Emporium, Thailand's first luxurious fashion and lifestyle shopping complex, is situated in the heart of Sukhumvit Road. Features a one - stop shopping concept complete with leading international brands, a full-scheme department store, a five-star movie complex, kid's playground, gourmet market, a wide selection of chic cafés and restaurants, beauty salons, jewelry shops and lots more. You will discover premium goods, unique and exotic Thai handicrafts, and world-class brands in a warm and relaxed atmosphere.

The shopping complex combines several flagship stores, and to some brands, such as Cartier, Chanel, Hermés, and Tod's. Emporium was their first outlet in Thailand.

Gaysorn Plaza 

Representing the excellence of life, Gaysorn is the home of choice for international high-end brands to showcase their flagship stores. 

One could say that it is Thailand’s very own Champs Elys'e. Make your visit to Gaysorn a one-stop luxury shopping centre in Bangkok.

MBK Center   

MBK Center , an enormous 8-storey marble mall opened in 1985, is one of the biggest shopping malls in Asia . The center provides over 2,000 stores and services, over 150 eating establishments and a large cinema city. As a leading developer and operator of luxurious hotels, office buildings and shopping centers in the heart of Bangkok, we are optimistic about exploring new shopping here, you'll find. 

Pantip Plaza 

Pantip Plaza is an indoor IT shopping mall located on New Phetchaburi Road in Ratchathewi district, Bangkok, Thailand. The sale of counterfeit software and DVDs are the major reasons behind this mall's success and notoriety.

River City Shopping Complex

On the historic River of Kings is a luxurious showcase for all the diversities of Thai art and culture. For visitors and collectors of oriental art world over.

River City represents a new experience.

Siam Paragon, the Pride of Bangkok 

Siam Paragon, a 15-billion-baht project covering 5000,000 sq.m., will offer over 250 world class brand names and local brand names under one roof, as well as a Department Store, Supermarket, and Edutainment and Entertainment Center. It is on course to become the largest shopping complex in South East Asia.

Siam Paragon is a joint venture between Siam Piwat and The Mall Group, two of the most prominent retail real estate development in Thailand. The fifty fifty joint venture is registered as Siam Paragon Development Co., Ltd. and Siam Paragon Retail Co., Ltd. with 600-million baht initial capitalization. Siam Paragon has been conceived as a national showpiece for Thailand. It is located on extremely prestigious land belonging to Sra Prathum Palace in the heart of the city. The project is intended to enhance Bangkok as a World-class detonation by offering the best shopping experience in town to locals and tourists alike. The intention is to stimulate the economy and foster confidence among foreign investors. 

The Peninsula Plaza 

The Peninsula Plaza, located on Ratchadamri Road between the Grand Hyatt Erawan and the Regent Bangkok, is the city's equivalent of Harrods, albeit on a smaller scale. The French-style multi-story building, housing over 70 small boutiques, caters to an exclusive upper-crust customer base. It carries imported brand name labels such as Versace and Gucci, jewelry, stylish local brands by famous designers and very luxurious gourmet shops. The Peninsula is open daily from 10.00 am to 9.00 pm and easily reached from the Ratchadamri BTS Station.

For any further assistance and help, please contact us for free:

Thai Bazaar Intertrade Co., Ltd,

378, Sukumvit 101/1, Bangkok-10260, Thailand.

Tel.: +66 866 155100

email: info@thailandbazar.com

======================================================================

WHAT TO BUY

Many bargains await you in Thailand if you have the space to carry them back. Always haggle to get the best price, except in department stores. And don't go shopping in the company of touts, tour guides or friendly strangers as they will inevitably - no matter what they say - take a commission on anything you buy, thus driving prices up.

Thai silk, cotton, nielloware, silverware, bronzeware, pottery and celadon, pewter, precious stones, finished jewelry and a dazzling range of folk handicrafts make memorable gifts and souvenirs. International standard ready-made sportswear and leisurewear is inexpensive and quality tailors and dressmakers offer reliable 24-hour service in Bangkok and major tourist destinations.

Antiques

Real antiques cannot be taken out of Thailand without a permit from the Fine Arts Department. No Buddha image, new or old, may be exported without permission - again, refer to the Fine Arts Department, or, in some cases, the Department of Religious Affairs, under the Ministry of Education. Too many private collectors smuggling and hoarding Siamese art (Buddhas in particular) around the world have led to strict controls.

Chinese and Thai antiques are sold in Bangkok's Chinatown in two areas: Wang Burapha (the streets which have Chinese "gates" over the entrance) and Nakhon Kasem. Some antiques (and many fakes) are sold at the Weekend Market in Chatuchak Park. Objects for sale in the tourist antique shops are fantastically overpriced, as can be expected. In recent years Northern Thailand has become a good source of Thai antiques - prices are about half what you'd typically pay in Bangkok.

Art

Fine art has been produced in Thailand since the birth of the nation, while the Kingdom's neighbours similarly have a rich tradition of creating exquisite artworks. Modern art also flourishes today, and both the collector and the occasional shopper will discover plenty to catch the eye.

Artificial Flowers

With nimble fingers and a sure eye for beauty, Thais are adept at producing super artificial plants and flowers. In what is a rapidly growing export industry, a wonderful variety of faithful replicas and original imaginative creations are available. All are entirely hand-made and relatively inexpensive, and make splendid items for home decoration.

Brass & Bronzeware

Shoppers have long recognized the excellent value of made-in-Thailand brass and bronze-ware. Techniques combine traditional methods with modern innovations, such as silicon coating to prevent tarnishing, while designs similarly reflect both the old and the new. Especially popular are fine cutlery sets, bowls and other tableware, as well as brass sculptures of figures and animals in classical and contemporary styles.

Clothing

Tailor-made and ready-made clothes are relatively inexpensive. If you're not particular about style you could pick up an entire wardrobe of travelling clothes at one of Bangkok's May street market (e.g. Pratunam) for what you'd pay for one designer shirt in New York or Paris.

You're more likely to get a good fit if you resort to a tailor but be wary of the quickie made of inferior fabric or the poor tailoring means the arms start falling off after three weeks wear. It's best to ask Thai or longtime foreign resident for a tailor recommendation and then go for two or three fittings.

Ceramics

Many kinds of hand-thrown pottery, old and new, are available throughout the kingdom. Most well known are the greenish Thai celadon products from the Sukhothai -Si Satchanalai area and Central Thailand's benjarong or "five colour" style. The latter is based on Chinese patterns while the former is a Thai original that has been imitated throughout China and South- East Asia. Rough, unglazed pottery from the North and North - East can also be very appealing.

Fake or Pirated Goods

In Bangkok, Chiang Mai and all the tourist centres, there is black-market street trade in fake designer goods; particularly Benneton pants and sweaters, Lacoste (crocodile) and Palph lauren polo shirts, Levi's jeans, and Rolex, Dunhill and Cartier watches. Tin-Tin T- Shirts are also big. No -one pretends they're the real thing, at least not the vendors themselves. The European and American manufacturers are applying heavy pressure on the Asian governments involved to get this stuff off the street, so it may not be around for much longer. Government is serious to stop sale of all fake or, pirated goods.

Fun Buys

On the fun side, you will enjoy the city's numerous traditional markets. Pak Klong Talat, for example, overflows tropical fruits, fabulous flowers and fresh produce of all kinds. The Weekend Market, on the other hand, is packed with stalls selling just about everything from potted plants to pets, from yesterday's antiques to the latest pop T-shirts. Alternatively, street stalls mushroom nightly along Silom Road and other major thoroughfares to offer a colourful array of fun buys.

Furniture

Rattan and hardwood furniture items are often good buys and can be made to order. Bangkok and Chiang Mai have the best selection of styles and quality. Teak furniture has become relatively scarce and expensive; rosewood is a more reasonable buy.

Gemopolis

As the name suggests, Gemopolis is a self-contained complex, some 300 acres in size, in eastern Bangkok, that is devoted to every aspect of gemstone and jewellery production and trade, inclusive of gemstone and diamond refinery, jewellery design and manufacture, and retailing and exporting finished products around the world. Visitors who would like to witness the manufacturing processes and shop for quality gemstones and jewellery at fair prices in a secure environment can contact Tel: (66-2) 727-022 (21 lines) for complete details.

Gems

Bangkok offers many opportunities to purchase polished gems. Rubies and sapphires are indigenous stones, but virtually all coloured gems, as well as, increasingly, diamonds, are also available. Shoppers should exercise caution and know what they are looking for. Remember, there are no bargains in the gem business, or so few as to be negligible -- good and cheap simply don't go together when it comes to precious stones. But what the careful shopper can expect is excellent value for money.

Gold

Good and inexpensive craftsmanship, combined with standard gold prices, make Thai gold articles excellent value. Handcrafted chains, bracelets, earrings, pendants and other articles are all widely available at the many specialist gold shops in Bangkok, as well as at jewellery stores.

Hill-Tribe Crafts

Interesting embroidery, clothing, bags and jewellery from the North can be bought in Bangkok at Narayan Phand, Lan Luang Rd, at branches of the Queen's Hillcrafts Foundation, and at various tourist ships around town. See Things to Buy in the Bangkok chapter for details.

In Chiang Mai there are ships selling handicrafts all along Thaphae Rd and there is a ship sponsored by missionaries near Prince Royal College. There is a branch of the Queen's Hillcrafts Foundation in Chiang Rai. It's worth shopping around for the best prices and bargaining. The all-round best buys of northern hill-tribe crafts are at the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar - if you know how to bargain.

Jewellery

Thailand is one of the world's largest exporters of gems and ornaments, rivalled only by India and Sri Lanka. The International Color stones Association (ICA) relocated from Los Angeles to Bangkok's Chan Issara Tower a few years ago, and the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB) have established a bourse in Bangkok - two events that recognize that Thailand has become the world trade and production centre for precious stones. The biggest importers of Thai jewellery are the USA, Japan and Switzerland.

Although rough stone sources in Thailand itself have decreased dramatically, stones are now imported from Australia, Sri Lanka and other countries to be cut, polished and traded here. There are over 30 diamond-cutting houses in Bangkok alone. One of the results of this remarkable growth of the gem industry - in Thailand the gem trade has increased nearly 10% every year for the last 15 years - is that the prices are rising rapidly.

If you know what you are doing you can make some really good buys in both unset gems and finished jewellery. Gold ornaments are sold at a good rate as labour costs are low. The best bargains in gems are jade, rubies and sapphires. Buy from reputable dealers only, unless you're a gemologist.

The biggest gem centres in Thailand are Kanchanaburi - these areas are where the Bangkok dealers go to buy their stones. The Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences (Tel. (02) 513-2112; fax 236-7803), 484 Ratchadaphisek Rd. (off Lat Phrao Rd. in the Huay Khwang district, north-east Bangkok), offers short-term courses in gemology as well as tours of gem mines for those interested. You can bring gems here for inspection but they don't assess value, only authenticity and grading.

Lacquerware

Thailand produces some good lacquerware, much of it made in Myanmar and sold along the northern Myanmar border. Try Mae Sot, Mae Sariang and Mae Sai for the best buys.

Styles available today originated in 11th century Chiang Mai; in 1558 Myanmar's King Bayinnaung captured a number of Chiang Mai lacquer artisans and brought them to Bago in central Myanmar to establish the incised lacquerware tradition. Lacquer comes from the Melanorrhea usitata tree (not to be confused with "lac", which comes from an insect), and in its most basic form is mixed with paddy-husk ash to form a light, flexible, waterproof coating over bamboo frames.

To make a lacquerware object, the craftsperson first weaves a bamboo frame. If the item is first-quality, only the frame is bamboo; horse or donkey hairs will be wound round the frame. In lower-quality lacquerware the whole object is made from bamboo. The lacquer is then coated over the framework and allowed to dry. After several days is it sanded down with ash from rice husks, and another coating of lacquer is applied. A high-quality item may have seven layers of lacquer altogether.

The lacquerware is engraved and painted, then polished to remove the paint from everywhere except in the engravings. Multi - coloured lacquerware is produced by repeated engraving, painting and polishing. From start to finish it can take five or six months to produce a high-quality piece of lacquerware, which may have as many as five colours. Flexibility is one characteristic of good lacquerware. A top-quality bowl can have its rim squeezed together until the sides meet without suffering damage. The quality and precision of the engraving is another thing to look for.

Lacquerware is made into bowls, trays, plates, boxes, containers, cups vases and many other everyday items. Octagonal-topped folding tables are another popular lacquerware item.

Leather Goods

Complementing Thailand's clothing industry is an extensive production of quality leather goods. Renowned for their durability and beautiful designs are shoes, either ready made or made-to-order, leather jackets, belts, handbags, briefcases, luggage, wallets and a host of other accessories Specialist leather shops and street stalls, offer a staggering variety of products at very attractive prices.

Mat Mee Silk

A unique style of Thai silk, known as Mat Mee, is a handicraft traditional to the northeast region of the country. Produced from tie-dyed silk threads, the fabric is hand-woven in a variety of beautiful designs, typically distinguished by intricate patterns and subtle colours.

Once a neglected craft, Mat Mee silk has been revitalized in recent years through rural development projects initiated by Her Majesty Queen Sirikit. Today, Mat Mee enjoys an unprecedented vogue as a fashion material favoured by Her Majesty and other members of the Royal Family.

Nielloware

This art came from Europe via Nakhon Si Thammarat and has been cultivated in Thailand for over 700 years. Engraved silver is inlaid with niello- an alloy of lead, silver, copper and sulphur - to form striking black- and - silver jewellery designs. Nielloware is one of Thailand's best buys.

Other Goods

Bangkok is famous the world over for is street markets - Pratunam, Chatuchak Park, Khlong Toey, Sampeng (Chinatown), Banglamphu and many more - where you'll find things you never imagined you wanted but once you see, you feel you can't possibly do without. Even if you don't want to spend any money, they're great places to wander around.

For top- end shopping, the two main centres in Bangkok are the areas around the Oriental Hotel off Charoen Krung (New) Rd and the River City shopping complex on the river next to the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel. At the other end, Thailand's two big department store chains, Robinson and Central, offer reasonable priced clothing, electronics and houseware at several branches in Bangkok as well as in the larger towns.

Other Crafts

Under Queen Sirikit's Supplementary Occupations & Related Techniques (SUPPORT) foundation, a number of regional crafts from around Thailand have been successfully revived. Malang thap collages and sculptures are made by the artful cutting and assembling of the metallic, multicoloured wings and carapaces of female wood -boring beetles (Sternocera aequisingnata), harvested after they die at the end of their reproductive cycle between July and September each year. Hailing mostly from the North and North - East, they can nonetheless be found in craft ships all over Thailand.

For "Damascene ware" (known as kram in Thai), gold and silver wire is hammered into a cross- hatched steel surface to create exquisitely patterned bowls and boxes. Look for them in more upscale Bangkok department stores and craft shops.

Yaan lipao is a type of intricately woven basket made from a hardy grass in Southern Thailand. Ever since the Queen and other female members of the royal family began carrying delicate yann lipao purses, they have been a Thai fashion staple. Basketry of this type is most easily found in the Southern provincial capitals, or in Bangkok shops that specialize in regional handicrafts.

Paintings

The Thai art scene is vibrant and there are numerous shops offering original works by local artists. Subjects range from renderings of classical temple mural and manuscript paintings to landscapes, typical Thai scenes and contemporary works of high aesthetic value. Art lovers should also remember that local framing is inexpensive and of high quality.

In addition to several art galleries around Bangkok, exhibitions are held regularly at various leading hotels and other notable venues. For details, check the "What's On" column of the local English language newspapers.

Pewterware

Like silver, pewter is fashioned with great skill by Thai craftsmen, and the smooth, silky finish of this attractive alloy is often enhanced by delicate decoration. Among pewter ware items are plates, boxes, vases and pocket flasks.

Rattan and Wicker Work

Thailand has earned a fine reputation for its high quality rattan and wicker furniture. Both elegant and durable, these items are available in a wide variety of designs and styles. Decorative objects in rattan and wicker work display an excellent standard of workmanship, and are ideal for lending a light tropical touch to any interior decor.

Royal Crafts

No finer examples of craftsmanship can be found then those produced under royal patronage. In 1976,Her Majesty Queen Sirikit sought a way both to give rural Thais alternative sources of income and to revive some of the Kingdom's traditional crafts. The result was the establishment of the Foundation for Promotion of Supplementary Occupations and Related Techniques, popularly known as SUPPORT. The project has flourished and today craftsmen working under SUPPORT guidance produce a wonderfully rich collection of many kinds of traditional handicrafts.

Among items available are exquisite hand-woven silks, including the famous tie-dyed mat mee silks of the Northeast; elegant yan liphao woven handbags, Thai cottons and many other reasonably priced souvenirs. These SUPPORT handicrafts can be purchased from the Foundation's chain of exclusive outlets, known as Chitrlada Shops, and all proceeds go to the on-going development of the project.

Shoulder Bags

Thai shoulder bags (yaam) are generally quite well made. They come in many varieties, some woven by hill tribes, other by Northern Thai cottage industry. The best are made by the Lahu hill tribes, whom the Thais call "Musoe". The weaving is more skillful and the bags tend to last longer than those made by other tribes. For an extra-large yaam, the Karen-made bag is a good choice, and is easy to find in the Mae Sot and Mae Hong Son areas. These days many hill tribes are copying patterns from tribes other than their own.

Overall, Chiang Mai has the best selection of standard shoulder bags, but Bangkok has the best prices - try the Indian district, Pahurat, for these as well as anything else made of cloth. Roi-Et and Mahasarakham in the North-East are also good hunting grounds for locally made shoulder bags. Prices range from 50 Baht for a cheaply made bag to 200B for something special.

Silverware

Silver-beating is another craft traditional to Chiang Mai. Bowls and boxes with skillfully worked patterns are popular buys, while vases and other ornaments in both old and modern designs are available particularly in Chiang Mai and Nakhon Phanom but also in Bangkok and else where.

Thai Dolls and Toys

The art of doll-making in Thailand dates back hundreds of years and remains very much alive today. Doll collectors will delight in a broad assortment of detailed and beautifully crafted figures of classical dancers in full costume, hill tribe people in their traditional colourful dress and rural folk. For children there is a variety of soft cuddly dolls manufactured according to the strictest international safety requirement.

Thai Orchids

Thailand is blessed with a huge variety of orchids Through meticulous cross-breeding, plants previously found only in their natural forest habitat have been domesticated and now more than a thousand species are available from specialist orchid farms. Magnificent colours and durable beauty make orchids a very popular purchase. Specially packaged flowers, complete with water supply, are easily transported and long retain their freshness and beauty. Orchids may be bought at many shops in Bangkok and at Bangkok International Airport.

Thai Silk

Produced in countless colours and eye-caching designs, Thai silk has traditionally been used for clothing, and is sold both by the length and as ready-to-wear fashions.

With enhanced production in recent years, Thai silk is also now produced in heavier weights ideal for draperies, upholstery and other household furnishing. Additionally, the rich fabric is further used for place mats and napkins, neckties, scarves and other accessories, as well as exquisite coverings for a whole range of souvenirs from jewelry boxes to notebooks.

The Jewel Fest Club

Jewellery and gemstones from Thailand are favourite items for many visitors to the Kingdom. Their beauty, quality craftsmanship and reasonable prices have earned Thai precious and semi-precious stones an unmatched reputation worldwide.

Occasionally, however, visitors encounter unethical jewelers who sell jewelry at unreasonable prices. With the cooperation of the Thai Gem and Jewelry Traders Association (TGJTA) and the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the Jewel Fest Club was established, bringing together 46 leading jewelry manufacturers and wholesalers. The club's aim is to offer quality products at reasonable prices with a money-back guarantee if buyers are not completely satisfied with their purchases. Retail outlets bear the emblem featured here for ready identification.

When you purchase an item of jewellery from a store that is clearly identified as a member of the Jewel Fest Club, your purchase will be duly recorded and a certificate detailing your purchase will be issued. Not only does this certificate of authenticity clearly state the nature and price of your purchase, it also guarantees your refund should you wish to return the purchase, cut by 10 % it you return the merchandise to the point of sale within 30 days, and by 20 % after 30 days but within 45 days of purchase.

For more details about the club and the benefits offered, contact Tel: (66-2) 235-339,(66-2)267-5233-7 Fax : (66-2) 267-5238,(66-2) 235-3040

Textiles

Fabric is possibly the best all-round buy in Thailand. Thai silk is considered the best in world- the coarse weave and soft texture of the silk means it is more easily dyed than harder, smoother silks, resulting in brighter colours and a unique luster. Silks, can be purchased cheaply in the North and North - East where it is made or, more easily, in Bangkok. Excellent and reasonably priced tailor ships can make you choice of fabric into almost any pattern. A Thai silk suit should cost around 400 to 6,500 Baht. Chinese silk is available at about half the cost - "washed" Chinese silk makes inexpensive, comfortable shirts or blouses.

Cottons are also a good deal - common items like the phaakhamaa (reputed to have over a hundred uses in Thailand) and the phaasin (the slightly larger female equivalent) make great tablecloths and curtains. Good ready- made cotton shirts are available, such as the maw hawn (Thai work shirt) and the kuay haeng (Chinese -style shirt). See the sections on Pasang in the Northern Thailand chapter and Ko Yo in the Southern Thailand chapter for places to see cotton-weaving.

In recent years, cotton-weaving has become very popular in the North-East and there are fabulous finds in Nong Khai, Poi-Et, Khon Kaen and Mahasarakham. The mawn khwaan, a hard, triangle-shaped pillow made in the North-East, makes a good souvenir and comes in many sizes. The North - East is also famous for its mat-mii cloth, thick cotton or silk fabric woven from tie-dyed threads - similar to Indonesia's ikat fabrics.

In the North you can find Lanna-style textiles based on intricate Thai Lu patterns from Nan, Laos and China's Sipsongpanna (Xishuangbanna).

Fairly nice batik (pa-te) is available in the South in patterns that are more similar to the batik found in Malaysia than in Indonesia.

Traditional Handicrafts

Thailand is renowned for its traditional handicrafts. Produced in variety of designs, these make not only ideal souvenirs gifts, but are also perfect for design and home decoration.

Warning

Be wary of special "deals" that are offered for one day only or which set you up as a "courier" in which you're promised big money. Many travellers end up losing big. Shop around and don't be hasty. Remember: there is no such thing as a "government sale" or a "factory price" at a gem or jewellery shop; the Thai government does not own or manage any gem or jewellery shops.

For any further assistance and help, please contact us for free:

Thai Bazaar Intertrade Co., Ltd,

378, Sukumvit 101/1, Bangkok-10260, Thailand.

Tel.: +66 866 155100

email: info@thailandbazar.com

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WHERE TO SHOP

Shoppers in Bangkok have a wide choice of areas in which to pursue their search for bargains, most of them located within walking distance of major hotels.

One such area, for example, is along Silom and Suriwongse Roads in the vicinity of the Dusit Thani Montien, and Tawana Hotels. This includes Robinson's department Store, Central Department Store, the Charn Issara Shopping Centre, dozens of silk shop, antique and decorative reproduction shops, boutiques of ready-to-wear women's clothes, men's tailors and shops selling leather wear and other goods.

From the Ratchaprasong intersection, near the Meridien President Hotel, it is but a short walk to the Amarin Plaza shopping Centre Department Store in one direction and to Ratchadamri Arcade and Narayana Phand Store in another. Directly opposite Narayana Phand are the world Trade Centre, and enormous complex with two department stores and hundreds of boutiques selling everything imaginable. Also nearby are the upscale Peninsula Arcade and Galleries Lafayette.

Off the Ratchaprasong intersection eastward to Sukhumvit Road stands the Emporium shopping Centre, where brand name clothes and fashionable decorative items are found in attractive and unique style.

Shoppers should not overlook Bangkok's many department stores, which offer locally made goods as well as designer name brands and feature alluring sales. Twice a year, visitors can take advantage of the month-long Amazing Thailand Grand Sale, which is held throughout Bangkok and other major cities. Watch for the Grand Sale, which takes place in June, and again in mid-November and offers valuable discounts on all kinds of goods.

Also worth visiting are several air-conditioned shopping complexes the offer a wide variety of goods and prices. The Oriental Plaza. In an atmospheric old building houses jewelry and Thai handicrafts as well as clothing and fabrics. River City Shopping Complex, located adjacent to the Royal Orchid Sheraton Hotel, has two floors devoted to small shops selling antiques and decorative items as well as a main floor that features exhibits of art, handicrafts, antique furniture, paper products, plants and more, Siam Centre and Siam discovery Centre near the Siam Inter continental Hotel are filled with numerous fashionable boutiques and in the vicinity is Mah Boon Krong.

A particular favorite with younger Thais, this teeming emporium contains hundreds of shops as well as the Tokyu Department Store.

As comfortable as these centres are, any serious shopper will also want to explore some of the city's markets for their colorful atmosphere and generally lower prices, Pratunam, near the Indra Regent Hotel, specializes in ready-to-wear clothing of all kinds. Opposite the Pratunam shopping complex is Nai Lert Market offering a variety of inexpensive trendy products, ranging from hairpins to shoes. Don't miss the delicious oriental food sold here at very low prices.

Near the Grand palace is Khao San Road filled with clothes, jewellery and accessories popular among the backpackers and younger crowds. Just up from Khao San stands Banglamphu Market, which has authentic Thai goods and contemporary products.

In the older section of town, at the corner of Phahurat and Chakraphet, is the Phahurat cloth Market, where locals go for textile bargains, while Sampheng Lane and Yaowarat, both in Chinatown, have countless shops selling. Gold, jewellery, cooking utensils and other items.

The biggest market of all, and the most fascinating, is the Chatuchak Weekend Market, open on Saturday and Sunday at Chatuchak Park, not far from the Central Plaza Hotel. Here, just about everything Thailand makes or grows is on sale, from blue-and -white porcelain to hybrid orchids, and huge crowds go there to buy or just to enjoy the market atmosphere.

Another much smaller market is the Pat Pong night market that has good souvenirs, but nothing like what's available a Chatuchak.

The Floating Market, despite the emergence of the ubiquitous farm pick-ups, paddy farmers and orchard gardeners still continue to meet and barter their products in age-old trading sports on the canals (Khlongs). Early every morning, sampans laden with all kinds of tropical fruits and vegetables and fresh products, wind their way to the floating markets around Bangkok. There is one particular floating market in Bangkok that visitors can enjoy: Taling Chan Floating Market is a weekend market in front of Taling Chan District Office, open from 9.00 a.m. to 5.00 p.m. Boat trip services are available for sight-seeing along the canal where gardens and a village lifestyle are still to be seen. The market is also accessible by bus No. 79 and 83, which pass nearby. Contact Taling Chan District Office on telephone 424-1742 for more information.

Outside Bangkok, the main city for shopping is Chiang Mai, the unquestioned centre of traditional Thai handicrafts. Visitors can find beautiful sandstone pieces, antiques and more. The Night Bazaar, is a good place to sample the full tange of local products such as cotton, lacquerware, silver hilltribe clothing, Burmese tapestries, painted umbrellas and woodcarvings. While in Chiang Mai, make a point of going to some of how these goods - particularly lacquer, silk, silver and paper umbrellas - are actually made.

Pattaya also has many shops selling Thai goods and a particularly wide selection of precious and semi-precious stones since the popular resort lies near Chanthaburi, where numerous gem mines are located. Hat Yai, a district in Songkhla province in Southern Thailand is home to the Kim Yong Market, Where tax-free electronic goods, dried fruits and clothes are sold at very low prices.

For any further assistance and help, please contact us for free:

Thai Bazaar Intertrade Co., Ltd,

378, Sukumvit 101/1, Bangkok-10260, Thailand.

Tel.: +66 866 155100

email: info@thailandbazar.com

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SHOPPING ADVICE / TIPS

Fixed prices are the norm in department stores and a number of shops in Bangkok, but at most other places bargaining are acceptable and expected. Generally you can obtain a final figure of between 10 to 40 percent lower than the original asking price. There are no hard-and-fast rules for bargaining, and much depends on your skills and the shopkeeper's mood. But remember Thais appreciate god manners and a sense of humour, and they are put off by loud voices and loss of temper. With patience and a broad smile you will not only get a better price, you'll also enjoy shopping as an art.

Generally, shopping in Thailand is easy, fun and very rewarding, but the following advice is useful especially when making gem and jewellery purchases:

Never let a tout or a new-found friend take you shopping. Stores give commissions to these people and that cost is reflected in the price you pay.

Choose a shop carefully. With gems, for example, make sure it is a specialist in that field and not simply a general souvenir store.

Shops in hotel arcades pay high rents and accordingly prices tend to be higher than at street shops. On the other hand, hotel arcades are very convenient if you have little time for shopping. Moreover, prestigious hotels generally attract quality shops.

Shop around to compare prices, though be sure to make comparisons between like items-- this is especially important with gems and jewellery.

Assess the sales assistants. Do they appear knowledgeable? Are they willing to discuss an item's bad as well as good points.

Take your time, never let a shop assistant pressure you into a purchase.

Reputable shops will give a written agreement to a full refund on any goods returned within 90 days. If a shop refuses to do this, go elsewhere.

Obtain a receipt for goods bought and check it is correct before leaving the shop.

Ultimately, your best guide is what you like. Don't , for example, buy gems or jewellery for the purpose of re-sale or investment. They may have such appreciation potential, but there are no guarantees. Shop for pleasure not for profit.

For any further assistance and help, please contact us for free:

Thai Bazaar Intertrade Co., Ltd,

378, Sukumvit 101/1, Bangkok-10260, Thailand.

Tel.: +66 866 155100

email: info@thailandbazar.com

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PACKING AND SHIPPING SERVICES

Thanks to the ever-increasing number of tourists coming to Thailand. Most shops are experienced at shipping abroad and will attend to all the documents such as insurance, customs and necessary permits. The Central Post Office also offers a parcel-wrapping service for those who want to make small shipments themselves. For larger items or bulk shipments, there are several Bangkok companies who specialize in such matters.

For any further assistance and help, please contact us for free:

Thai Bazaar Intertrade Co., Ltd,

378, Sukumvit 101/1, Bangkok-10260, Thailand.

Tel.: +66 866 155100

email: info@thailandbazar.com

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TRADING OPPORTUNITIES

The Department of Export promotion (DEP), Ministry of Commerce, Royal Thai Government, offers the "Permanent Exhibition," a one -stop export showcase where quality products manufactured in Thailand are on display. The exhibition features more than 250 selected exhibitors with more than 10,000 items on display in three exhibition areas. The same services are also available at DEP regional offices.

You can browse to your heart's content, viewing top quality products ranging from gift item and handicrafts, furniture, toys, leather products, artificial flowers, garments, food products, construction materials, automotive parts, hardware, tools and appliances, stationery and sporting equipment, to name only a handful of the items on hand. All are carefully selected for reliability and a high standard of workmanship.

If you find products that suit your requirements, you may contact the manufacturers directly of DEP staff can provide a variety of services to help make things easy. For example, they will arrange appointments with many companies and also provide meeting rooms with full office facilities. All of the permanent exhibition services are free of charge.

For more information, please contact the Thai Trade Centre or a Commercial Counsellor's Office at a Royal Thai Embassy in your own country. In Bangkok, contact the Department of Export Promotion on Ratchadaphisek Road. Tel: (66-2) 551-5066-77, Fax: 66-2) 512-1075, (66-2) 513-1917 Telex : 82354 DEPEP TH.

For any further assistance and help, please contact us for free:

Thai Bazaar Intertrade Co., Ltd,

378, Sukumvit 101/1, Bangkok-10260, Thailand.

Tel.: +66 866 155100

email: info@thailandbazar.com

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VAT REFUND

Visitor to Thailand can now claim VAT refunds at Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hat-Yai and Phuket airports for a minimum purchase of 5,000 Baht with no less than 20,000 Baht/receipt/day. Upon purchase, visitors should request the store to process a Vat refund form (por.por.10) When departing, visitors have the customs stamp the form prior to airline check-in.

When passing through Passport Control, visitors will have the form processed by the Revenue Department and receive a VAT refund. Please note that valuable merchandise such as jewellery, watches, eyeglasses and pens must be declared before customs and revenue officials.Shopping Information from Tourism Authority of Thailand

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For any further assistance and help, please contact us for free:

Thai Bazaar Intertrade Co., Ltd,

378, Sukumvit 101/1, Bangkok-10260, Thailand.

Tel.: +66 866 155100

email: info@thailandbazar.com