Buying Digital Cameras In Thailand

Thailand is known as a cheap holiday destination, but is it cheaper to buy a camera when you get to Thailand rather than picking up one before you leave home?

Is buying a digital camera cheaper in Thailand than in the UK? The answer is yes and no. Yes, it is definitely cheaper to buy a top of the range digital SLR camera like a Nikon D80 or a Canon E0S 350D in Thailand than it is to buy it in the UK; but no, it’s not really cheaper to buy a point and shoot digital camera like the Canon IXUS 60 in Thailand than it is in the UK – it’s about the same price.

If you’re from the USA, you can probably find digital SLRs as cheap in the States as in Thailand – in my experience, the USA has the cheapest camera prices anywhere – even cheaper than buying cameras in Japan. It’s worth checking on Ebay for travel camera bargains (scroll down for the latest Ebay auctions).

Here’s some examples – I took this photo of a Canon IXUS 800 IS and Canon IXUS 65 in the window of a Big Camera outlet in Bangkok. These are typical Bangkok prices. (I’ve included rough conversions to British Pounds Sterling below. For the US Dollar amount, you can double the British Pound Sterling number. You might want to use the currency converter for wholly accurate numbers).

Canon IXUS 800 IS and Canon IXUS 65 digital cameras in Thailand

The IXUS 800 IS is 16,900 Thai Baht, which is around £250.

The Canon IXUS 65 is 14,900 Thai Baht, which is around £215.

Looking on Amazon.co.uk, you can buy the IXUS 800 IS for £195 – that’s a little cheaper than Thailand.

Similarly, on Amazon.co.uk you can buy the IXUS 65 for £165 – that’s a lot cheaper than Thailand.

If you live in the USA, it’s definitely cheaper to buy a point and shoot camera at home than in Thailand. On Amazon.com, the Canon IXUS 800 – known in the USA as the SD Powershot 700 – is $US 499.

Similarly, on Amazon.com, the Canon IXUS 65 – known in the USA as the Powershot SD 630 – is $US 400

The USA always has extremely good prices for buying digital cameras – they are on a par with buying cameras in Japan, and often cheaper too – so if you are from the States, shop around at home.

That said, if you are a tourist in Thailand, you are entitled to a 7 per cent tax rebate when you leave the country. All you have to do is fill in the necessary forms when you buy the camera – you must ensure you buy the camera from a shop that is part of the tax rebate scheme – and then get the documents processed at the airport before you leave to get your cash back.

Therefore if you bought a Canon IXUS 800 IS for 16,900 Thai Baht, you would get a 7 per cent rebate, which is around 1180 Baht off the price – or about £17.50. It’s a nice discount but still perhaps not enough to make it worthwhile buying the camera in Thailand, especially as the warranty is usually only for Thailand, and not applicable in international territories.

Big Savings on Digital SLRs in Thailand

Where there are savings to be made is in buying a digital SLR. I have bought two Nikon SLRs in the last 12 months – the Nikon D70s and the Nikon D40. Nikon has a dedicated SLR factory in Ayutthaya, about an hour’s drive from Bangkok (see this feature about the Nikon factory on DPMac.com) and as such, prices for Nikon items are very competitive in Thailand.

Here’s a photo of the Nikon D80 and Nikon D40 side by side that I took recently in The Emporium department store on Sukhumvit 24.

Nikon D80 and  Nikon D40 digital SLR cameras in Thailand

The Nikon D80 kit with 18 – 135 mm lens is 48,000 Thai Baht, which is about £700

The Nikon D40 is 25,000 Thai Baht, which is about £365

On Amazon.co.uk, you can currently buy the Nikon D80 with 18 – 135 lens for £733 (3rd party seller) and buy the Nikon D40 for £389 (3rd party seller)

On Amazon.com, you can buy the Nikon D80 kit for $US 1220 (3rd party seller) and the Nikon D40 kit for $US 576 (direct from Amazon).

That makes the Nikon D40 considerably cheaper to buy from Amazon.com rather than in Thailand. Presumably Amazon.com have bulk purchased the Nikon D40 to offer it at such a low price.

For other models, the saving is just a few pounds or dollars, which doesn’t seem that great. However, as mentioned above, you are entitled to a 7 per cent tax rebate when you leave the country as a tourist in Thailand. All you have to do is fill in the tax rebate forms when you buy the camera – you must ensure you buy the camera from a shop that is part of the tax rebate scheme – and then get the documents processed at the airport before you leave to get your cash back.

If you’re buying an item like an digital SLR, this 7 per cent rebate is quite significant – it’s an extra £50 ($US 100) off the cost of the Nikon D80 and around £25 ($US 50) off the D40.

The other thing that’s important to check is that you get an international warranty with the camera. This is standard practice for Nikon, but you need to double check that the warranty is not Thailand only.

Here’s a photo of the Canon EOS 350 D with 18 – 55mm lens kit in Thailand, which is known as the Canon Digital Rebel XT in the USA (I think):

Canon EOS 350 D Digital Rebel XT digital SLR cameras in Thailand

The price in Thailand for the Canon EOS 350 D or Digital Rebel is 28,000 Thai Baht. That’s around £400. On Amazon.co.uk, you can buy the Canon EOS 350 D for £400 (direct from Amazon). Therefore you would only get the 7 per cent tax rebate, which is about £30, as your saving.

On Amazon.com, you can buy the Canon Digital Rebel XT with 18 – 55m lens for $595 – much cheaper than buying it in Thailand, even with the rebate.

Where to buy digital SLRs in Bangkok

If you want to buy a digital SLR in Bangkok – and not just Nikon – talk to the friendly and helpful staff in FotoFile on the ground floor of MBK shopping mall. The staff speak good English and they can advise you on SLR purchases for all major brands. They also carry a wide variety of lenses. The Fotofile website is kept up to date with their latest prices – in English! – so you can doublecheck before you come to Thailand to see if it’s worth buying in Thailand or at home. Fotofile offer the Tax Rebate scheme, so there’s no problem with that. Be sure to ask that the items you want to buy are covered by the tax rebate scheme before you get into the payment process.

I have personally bought two lenses from Fotofile and I’ve had them recommended to me by several people – I foudn them to be very helpful. I would recommend you go early in the morning as it’s a small shop and they are very popular.

MBK is one of the biggest shopping malls in Bangkok – the nearest BTS is National Statium. Every taxi driver knows how to get there as well, so it’s not difficult to find.

If you have any other tips to add to this buying guide, please leave a comment below. This is a summary of my subjective experiences, and I’m by no means a camera buying pro.



Comments

  1. I dumped my brand new canon 750 i in water at beach.. now it works not that good anymore but is not totally dead it closes and opens etc ..is it possible to get it fixed somewehere in Bangkok

    I bought the camera in Belgium but did nt bring my warranty but maybe better pay a high repair bill than a probably more expensive bill for a new camera purchase?!
    please in need of help on this issue.. email damadjunglist@hotmail.com
    staying in thailand for about 5 months. Dave Clark

  2. Hi mate,
    thanks for the nice post. I was considering to have an vacation in Thailand and buying a digital camera in the mean time. Your article helped me a lot.
    I live in Turkey and have business trips to Germany often. I guess I’ll buy it from Germany.

    Cheers

  3. Ray Walton says:

    Just want to endorse you opinion about fotofile in Bangkok, they ar eexcellent and for those interested they DO sell good warranted second hand lensws and cameras too and offer trade-ins and well looked after gear. Also they have non warranted second hand items they sell on behalf of their customers.

    I live in Thailand so use Fotofile a lot and brought my Canon 350D from them and Canon 70-200mm f4 L lens too.

    Canon lenses area lot cheaper in thiland then in England. VAT here is also only 7% and not 17% as in the UK.

  4. hmmm.. I travel to Japan, Hong Kong, Dubai etc. several times a year and have NEVER seen anything being particularly cheap in Japan and wonder why I read this above. In my opinion both Hong KOng and Dubai seem to be the cheapest places to buy.

    But then again, I am just a frequent traveller who knows nothing about cameras.

    I am however curious to know which items you find cheaper in Japan…

  5. i was told they buy off the black market in china town in bangkok i am in bangkok at the moment and REALLY need advice sooner the better . where can i buy a 350 dslr .
    ps in foto file today less than price in picture
    for that camera ….

  6. Hi,

    I am Sanka from Sri Lanka & will hoping to visit Bangkok on 24/25/26/27, September 2007 & looking forwared to buy a Digital Camera. Please send me the details where could I found a place to buy them with the prices & the specifications.

    Thanks & Regards,

    Sanka.

  7. Hi there,

    I was in Bangkok the other day and went into
    Foto File as I’m currently shopping around
    for a Nikon D300 DSLR. Every shop I went to
    in Bangkok sell it for the same price –
    65000 THB. The lenses did differ in price
    quite a bit – up to 9000 THB in some cases.

    Here’s where it gets interesting though.
    I don’t live in Thailand so I wanted an
    international warranty. Not a single shop
    in Bangkok could provide one – not even
    Foto File in MBK. The Nikon shop on the
    3rd floor of MBK said the same thing – you
    just can’t get an international warranty
    on a DSLR in Thailand. Another random shop
    in MBK said the same thing.

    Do you have any thoughts on this? The lack
    of an international warranty has made me
    stop looking in Bangkok which is a shame as
    their prices are very good. If you can
    advise where I can get a DSLR with an i’tl
    warranty you would make my day! :)

    Cheers

  8. I bought a Nikon D70 a few years ago in Malaysia.
    After a while it developed a problem called the BGLOD (blinking green
    light of death)
    I sent it to a camera shop on a Monday, they returned it to me on
    Thursday all fixed by Nikon, no charge.
    I am in South Africa.
    I guess, Nikon honours all warranties worldwide without any need for
    papers.

  9. kruucare says:

    Don’t forget that in Thailand you can barter the price down a bit further… Never take the price shown in the windows like in the above pic if you are in IT Mall or Pantip or another large electronics store in Bangkok. The barter rule usually applies for most things in Thailand except for in large western style department stores. My advice is to take a Thai friend with you (if you have one) and let them do the talking while you just smile :) You always get further in Thailand if you smile! Usually you will get the price down a bit more.

  10. hi there,
    well it was a nice post on buying DSLRs in Bangkok…
    i recently bought a Canon 60D from Pantip Plaza, which is the biggest IT hub in town, there are about 50 odd shops selling cameras and a lot of Canon exclusive dealers also,
    i support Chris above on the saying that no one offers an international warranty on the body of any SLR you choose, Nikon, Canon etc etc…
    but they do offer an International Warranty on the lens. i got a 55-250 lens along with the camera and it has been giving me a splendid performance. since then..
    Secondly.
    i compared the prices worldwide and i found it a lot cheaper..
    visit Pantip Plaza, its the place for IT freaks…:)

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