I am hoping to do TONS of shopping in BKK before leaving and was wondering how I could ship those items back to the States..anyone have experience with this? more specifically:
1. what's the max amount or biggest item allowed
2. how and where do I pay the duties. (how much would depend on weight I guess)?
3. is it better if I just bought a cheap suitcase there and lugged it all back with me without getting busted at the airport.
Are clothing and textile items truly cheap at the weekend markets?
Cheers and thanks!
#1 insearchofsunrise has been a member since 21/8/2006. Posts: 20
We typically save our shopping until the end of our trip, so we won't have to worry about carrying stuff around with us, and also so we know how much money we have left to spend. Just like you said, a good way to go is to pick up a cheap suitcase or duffle bag at the Weekend Market, MBK or Narayaphan basement bazaar, and load your purchases in that. We picked up a good-sized duffle bag at a market for less than 400 baht. That's great for clothes and things that aren't fragile. For the more delicate stuff, we bought mailing boxes at the post office. They come in various sizes, cost between 15 and 25 baht, and are sturdy enough to help protect things when placed inside a checked piece of luggage.
Check with your specific air carrier for their checked baggage policy, but if you are travelling to the states, you've likely got a 2 pieces of checked baggage allowance, and each can weigh up to 50 lbs. That a lot of baggage allowance. Since that doesn't cost you anything extra to take it with you, that makes better sense to me than mailing your stuff home. As a US citizen, you are allowed to bring into the US up to $800 of good purchased abroad duty free, and as long as you don't have commercial quanties of stuff (50 t-shirts, for example) or counterfeit good (be particularly careful to avoid bootleg movies and music), you should be good to go clearing customs in the states. There is usually a 10% flat rate duty charge for the next $1000 of good you bring with you.
We did mail one box home, from Nong Khai, about midway through our 2-month trip. That was nearly two months ago, and there is no sign of the box yet. Plus, it was expensive, so if you can, just take the stuff you buy with you as checked luggage.
I've never been charged duties on packages I've mailed back to the states. Usually anything under $50 doesn't get taxed, but in any case, duty is a function of value, not weight.
It used to be that 10 kg was the biggest package you could mail from Thailand, but I can't say if that is true anymore. The cost of mailing the package will depend on weight, and method - air mail, surface mail, etc. There is usually a fixed price for the first kilogram, then an additional price per kg. The folks at the Thai post office can give you those details if you need them.
Sorry, that was a long-winded answer, so I hope the info you wanted was in there. Happy shopping. Regards.
Since exacto has already discussed the shipping, I'll tell you about the shopping.
Shopping in Thailand is GOOOOOD. Be it at the Weekend market or the Department stores, it's cheap.
The Chatuchak Weekend Market is a MUST. It's very big and it can get very hot and crowded, so I advise that you go early. That way, there's not too many people yet and you might be given a special discount for being the first customer for the day. Also, by going early, the temperature isn't that high yet. I went there at around 6:30am, and most of the stalls aren't open, though a handful are already open or are setting up shop. I left around 8:30am because it was getting hot and I ran out of money. Oh, it's BIG. I had a hard time figuring out which way to go, and I already have a map with me (Nancy Chandler's Map of Bangkok, great map, definitely worth it)! Anyway, don't fret, just walk around and you're sure to stumble upon a great stall. In case you wanted something from another store but want to check out the prices in another store, mark the stall number and section of the stall because it's going to be hard to find it again.
The Suan Lum night bazaar is also good. There are some sellers that have items not sold in the Weekend market (or maybe I just didn't see them). This is a great alternative if you wouldn't be able to go to the weekend market. (Though I hear there are some sellers in the weekend market during the week. Mostly wholesalers, I think.)
My favorite mall in Bangkok is MBK Center. There's a huge section for your typical Thai souvenirs, and the prices are pretty much the same as the stalls in the weekend market. There are lots of stores selling everything from clothes, bags, shoes, cellphones, etc. There's also cinemas on the top level, and a very nice foodcourt.
There's a lot of factory outlets in Thailand (I hear there's one in Pattaya, but I can't find my source), so some brands are very cheap like Wacoal and Naturalizer.
If you're into designer labels, Gaysorn and Siam Paragon is the place to go.
Other places that are always recommended (but I haven't gone to) are Pratunam and Pahurat.
Happy shopping! :)
#3 neeners has been a member since 1/5/2006. Posts: 41
that was all fantastic information. Exacto, great heads up on the bootleg CD's, and I hope you get your package soon 2 months is a long time but these days not surprising :) Neeners: the weekend market sounds exactly like what i had in mind shopping wise, I can't wait!
#4 insearchofsunrise has been a member since 21/8/2006. Posts: 20
From my experience mailing from Thailand was not cheap. Up to 3 kilos surface mail to the UK was 1300 Baht. Economy air was actually cheaper up to about 2 kilos as 3 was the minimum for surface mail. On the plus side Thai postal workers are generally really helpful and helped me package up my stuff at no extra charge.
I've no idea how much 50lbs is but I very much doubt any airport outside the US has scales measuring in anything except Kg, no matter who your carrier is. Asian and European airlines tend to have much lower baggage allowances than US airlines. 20Kg is pretty normal for long-haul but 15kg is common on budget airline flights. Be sure to check thoroughly, and don't assume codeshare flights will have the same allowances.
#5 pauljaymes has been a member since 10/7/2006. Posts: 75
for those unfamiliar with our outdated system of measures here in the states, 50 lbs is 23 kg. u.s. carriers like united and northwest definitely have a baggage allowance of 50 lbs (23 kg) and dimensions (height x width x depth) of 62 inches/158 cm.
good advice from pauljaymes to check thoroughly and not to assume that codeshare flights have the same allowances. i think you'll find, however, that round-trip flights to/from the states and even canada typically have higher checked baggage allowances. thai international, for example, usually allows only 20kg of checked baggage in economy class. but their allowance on flights to/from canada and the states is significantly higher. still, be sure to check with whichever air carrier you are using to be sure.
while you are checking, you can also ask what the rates are for excess baggage. as pauljaymes notes, mailing stuff from Thailand is not cheap, and you may find that bringing things with you as excess is less expensive than mailing it - plus you have it with you and don't have to wait for your package to (hopefully) arrive.
the folks at the thai post office are helpful. i've long thought that they had one of the best postal systems in the world there. cheers.
that baggage allowance on united, northwest and others is 50lbs/23kg and 62inches/158cm per bag for up to 2 bags in economy class. that's a whopping 46 kg allowance for economy class! there are even higher limits for business and first class travellers and some categories of frequent flyers too. the limits listed on the thai airways website are 70lbs/32kg per bag for economy on flights to/from canada and the united states.
as a follow up on this, the package we mailed from nong khai in early july just arrived, meaning it took just over two months to get to us. not bad. the outside of the package was a bit abused, but the contents were fine. there was no sign of customs inspections from either thai or u.s. officials, and we were not asked to pay any taxes on the contents. cheers.
Is the information in this still accurate?
I think I'll definitely get a 2nd duffel and bring stuff home in that - but I have a dillemma in the form of roll-up Thai Massage matts and a big set of Celadon tableware.
I haven't purchased either yet, but I'd like to get a full set of celadon (there's a big sale at the factory near where I'm staying), as well as a big and small roll up thai massage matt (I'm a massage therapist in the states). The matts, especially, are SO cheap!
However, they're quite large. And the celadon is heavy, of course.
How should I go about taking these things home? Any ideas? I have other things too, of course - pillows and some clothes and some wood-ware.
#9 TheNewGuy8 has been a member since 8/9/2010. Posts: 35
We shipped a combo of souvenirs and personal items we no longer needed from Thailand (Chiang Mai, Post Office) in 2009 I don't remember it being particularly expensive but it was slow....I think it took about 2-3 months to arrive in California.
We also shipped Souvenirs/Personal Items from Saigon (again Post Office) and it was also about 3 months and even cheaper than thailand.
Unfortunately the shipping options were courier/air that was super expensive and took about a week or less or ground/sea which took several months...would have been nice to have something in between.