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Thailand Shopping and nightlife

Shopping in Thailand

Duty-free shops are located at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi, Don Mueang, Phuket, Krabi, Chiang Mai, Samui and Hat Yai airports. Duty-free can be found in the King Power Complex (+66 2 677 8899; www.kingpower.com) on Bangkok's Sri Ayutthaya-Rangnam Road as well as tax-free shops. Items can be purchased there and delivered to the airport in time for the departure flight. Value Added Tax (7%) can be refunded on goods bought in shops labelled 'VAT Refund for Tourists’. However, there is a minimum amount for single transactions of TH฿2, 000 (including VAT) per day, and goods must value at least TH฿5, 000. VAT Refund Application for Tourists forms are completed at the time of purchase and it’s necessary to show one's passport. The goods and VAT refund application must be presented on departure to Customs.

Souvenirs such as textiles, handicrafts, antique reproductions, ceramics and jewellery are available; all major cities and popular tourist haunts will offer some or all of these items. Bangkok and Chiang Mai have the greatest range and excellent markets. The souvenirs on the markets may not be authentic, but paddling through the stream of stalls at the floating markets near and around Bangkok is an unforgettable experience. Generally souvenirs and tourist offerings are extremely good value but shoppers should check quality carefully.

Shopping hours

Mon-Sun 1000/1030-2100/2200.

Nightlife in Thailand

Bangkok offers a wide range of entertainment venues, from nightclubs, pubs and bars, to massage parlours, pool halls and cocktail lounges. The nightlife is concentrated in four parts of Bangkok - Banglamphu, Patpong (between Silom and Surawong roads), Sukhumvit Road and the nearby street of Soi Cowboy.

Many venues are open all day and late into the night, although bars and clubs are supposed to close at 0200. Sometimes there is an admission fee but this usually includes one or two drinks. The dress code is very relaxed, although a few of the nightclubs do enforce smarter clothing.

Performances of traditional religious and court dances can be seen at the Thailand Cultural Centre (+66 2 247 0013; www.culture.go.th) and Siam Niramit Theatre in Bangkok (+66 2 649 9222; www.siamniramit.com). Elsewhere on the mainland, nightlife takes the form of traditional dances. The islands are renowned for their nightlife but attendance is almost exclusively by foreigners. The full moon parties are notorious and continue well into the following morning. Performances by the infamous katoeys (lady boys) are worth a visit, with the most famous seen at the Calypso Cabaret in Asiatique The Riverfront (+66 2 217 0808; www.calypsocabaret.com).

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