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Can You Save Money By Buying A Camera In Thailand?

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Author: David Tudor

Thailand was known as being a cheap and exotic holiday destination, but can you save money if you buy a digital camera whilst on holiday in somewhere like Bangkok ?

We get a number of emails from our readers asking us to provide them with information about the price of certain cameras. These tend to be Point & Shoot type cameras from the likes of Nikon and Canon but there are a few who are looking for more high end, semi-professional and professional cameras.

The thing they have in common is that they are coming to Thailand and will do a bit of shopping in Bangkok before heading off to the beaches and they want to buy a camera; thinking that they will probably save some money.

To start with, Thailand has a VAT rate of 7% so you could start by comparing that to your own country's VAT rate. You could be "saving" money right there even if the rate before tax is the same. But there is also has a high duty on imported goods and this is very often reflected in the price of many products and cameras are no different.

We've done a lot of research on this topic and find that it fluctuates depending upon the exchange rate. One day savings can be made and a few weeks later, it's no cheaper.

However, you can save if you collect the VAT at the airport and this could mean not using the product before leaving the country frustrating those who want to buy and use whilst on holiday.

You probably want some examples at this point and we're happy to oblige by offering two examples. One is a point and shoot and the other a semi-professional Digital SLR.

For the point and shoot, we've randomly chosen the Canon Digital IXUS 980 IS because it looks nice and because Canon are the market leaders in Point & Shoot digital cameras.

For the semi-pro D-SLR, we've chosen the Nikon D300 (body only) because we want one and spend every waking hour seeing whether we can realistically afford one.

For the prices, we chose two Thai websites for the prices and then compared those prices to those found on and

The Point And Shoot - Canon Digital IXUS 980 IS

Thai Prices:

website 1: -
15,900 Thai Baht with VAT
14,787 Thai Baht without VAT

website 2: -
14,990 Thai Baht with VAT
13,941 Thai Baht without VAT

US Price: -
310 Dollars ( 10,635 Thai Baht )
The camera is known as: Canon Powershot SD990IS

UK Price: -
290 Pounds (15,715 Thai Baht)

The Semi-Pro D-SLR - Nikon D300 (Body Only )

website 1: -
53,800 Thai Baht with VAT
50,034 Thai Baht without VAT

website 2:
No website comparison available

US Price: -
1,697 Dollars (57,790 Thai Baht )

UK Price:
1,099 Pounds ( 59,510 Thai Baht)

From the results above, we can see that if you are coming from the UK, small savings can be made on the point and shoot but quite substantial savings (roughly 200 UK pounds ) can be made on the semi-pro as long as you claim back the VAT on leaving the country.

However, if you are coming from the USA, it's cheaper to buy the point and shoot at home rather than from Thailand, but the semi-pro camera is also cheaper both with and without the VAT claimed back.

All this is very interesting when price is concerned but other factors need to be taken into consideration such as warranty and honesty for it's possible to be ripped off when shopping in Thailand especially when it comes to the legitimacy of the battery supplied or the contents in the box.

Would we shop in Thailand for a digital camera ?

We live in Thailand and have little choice, but if we were to be going to Singapore or Hong Kong, we'd probably wait and shop there instead as it can be cheaper in those places than in Thailand.

Having said that though, we are not worried about being ripped of in Thailand as most of the camera shops, especially the dedicated camera shops and department stores, are trustworthy and honest.

More information about cameras and buying a camera in Bangkok can be found at

About the author: David Tudor is an expat living in Thailand.

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