Thailand Travel Tips 2010

Here is some advice from mainly my experiences (and a couple other people who have also recently been):

  • Bargain everything – unless it’s in a department store. This includes markets, taxis/Tuk-Tuks. You can negotiate price, but it will be seen as a commitment to buy, but you just need the courage to walk away if it isn’t what you want (even if the price is right).
  • Things are cheaper in Chiang Mai than Phuket. If you see it in Chiang Mai, buy it there. The locals in Chiang Mai are also not as in your face.
  • Don’t shake anyone’s hand or hi-5 anyone. You may be physically dragged into their store – happened to a friend lol!
  • Tipping – not required, but certain places may try to pressure you to tip – especially if you’re on a tour, there are elements of the tour that involve extra charges/tips (I’ve always been a believer that receiving a tip is a priviledge and it should not be expected!)
  • Be aware of the additional 10% and 7% VAT charge which can be added on top of meals and goods (make sure you’re aware if VAT is or isn’t included).
  • Larger department stores can refund VAT, but you must spend at least 2000 baht

Review: Buying a Tailored Suit in Thailand

Just thought I’d put together some tips and advice for anyone who is looking into picking up a tailored suit in Thailand.

There are 4 elements to consider when it comes to suits in Thailand:

  1. Cut – how slim, or loose the suit fits
  2. Style – the creative design of the suit
  3. Colour – self explanatory
  4. Quality – as above

You’ll be glad to know that Cut, Colour, Quality are not an issue with the suits you get made in Thailand. The Cut is exceptional in most cases (from my experience, and other users on the web). There will be infinite Colour you can pick from as they have rolls of textiles for you waiting. The Quality of the sew is also very good. One thing I will note is that they tend to ignore the felt on the back of the collar of suits. This is generally used to make the collar sit better.

The issue is namely with the Style. When you go into these suit places (there is literally one on every corner), they will get you to flick through magazines to pick the Style you want. However, all you’re really doing is picking the colour, and the Cut. They will not be able to copy the Style of the suit from the magazine itself. In essence, they can only make one Style of suit, and you’re only picking the Colour and Cut from the magazine.

There is some flexibility, but it is limited to:

  • 2 or 3 button suit
  • Trousers – one or two rear pockets
  • Inner lining colours
  • Single, double, or no slit on coat

The reason for the limitation is that the store does not actually produce the suit themself. They get your measurements and send it off to a sweat shop to be made. How can I be sure of all the above? Observe the notes they jot down which will be sent to the sweat shop when they are measuring you up for suit. They jot your dimensions down, and note your preference of colour. Notice how there are no notes about the Style of the suit you picked out from the magazine!

This is from my experience, but maybe there are other people out there with different experiences. I have been told that they may be able to copy a suit if you already have the suit. But if this was the case, you probably wouldn’t be going to them for a suit, unless you really wanted a larger choice of suit colours to wear.

It should be noted that the Style of the suit would vary slightly from store to store, and that’s because they send it off to different sweat shops. Little things such as the angle of the suitcoat pockets will vary, but just remember each sweat shop can only produce one Style.

If all of the above sits ok with you, then Thailand is a great place to get a magnificent priced tailored suit. I paid 7600 baht for 2 suitcoats, and 2 pants (ie. 2 sets of suits). This equated to about AU$280. Normally I would spend AU$100 just to alter the cut and length of an existing suit, let alone have one made from scratch.

My suit came from a store in Patong, but I will withhold the location of the store until I am happy (or unhappy) with the longevity of the suit. I don’t want to jump the gun in recommending the place or vice versa til I am sure about the Quality.

The procedure for purchasing one of these suits is pretty standard:

  • Walk in, decide on cut and colours (make sure you decide on an inner lining colour or you will get the norm) and your initial measurement is taken. Deposit paid, usually 50% but get away with as least as possible.
  • 2 hours later, come back for preliminary fitting. The suit looks like an art smock at this point.
  • Next day, come in for final fitting with the finished product. Final alterations can be made including trouser length.
  • 2 hours later, suit ready for pickup with final payment.

In closing, you get what you pay for. There is also a massive post on Lonely Planet about tailoring in Thailand. I found this page most interesting (post 334) – http://www.lonelyplanet.com/thorntree/thread.jspa?threadID=1207953&start=330

Vietnam Travel Tips 2010

Here are my tips from my experience in Vietnam for those who are travelling in the near future:

  • Do not consume ice or tap water. It is untreated from what I can gather, and I ran into stomach issues from consuming just lettuce that was washed with tap water. You may have a more ironclad stomach. It is advised that you carry anti-diarrhea and anti-vommit medicines.
  • As a preference, try to travel in Vinasun or Mei-ling taxis. These are metered and you shouldn’t get ripped off. Stay away from push-bike carts and people offering rides on the back of bikes – Taxis are extremely cheap.
  • Anything that doesn’t have a price marked, bargain. If you do decide to bargain in the markets, make sure you have an intention to buy the goods if the price is right. Otherwise you may cop some abusive language! Therefore, do not ask for a price on anything you have no intention of buying.
  • If you understand Vietnamese, bargain in English and listen in on their backchat.
  • Anything you want to buy, you are guaranteed that more than one person will have it. Therefore, offer an outrageous price to see how low they will go. You can walk away to test this price, as they will only let you walk away if the price is below their cost.
  • When going through Immigration, use English only to avoid any issues (think it’s been cleaned up alot lately, but in the past you may have had to fork out bribe money)

If I remember anything, I will keep adding…

My personal opinions about Vietnam

  • Food not that great in quality and taste. Way better at home (Australia).
  • The People tend to be grumpy. A smile on your face doesn’t get you anywhere (obviously there are exceptions – hotels and reputable restaurants tend to treat you well)
  • The roads are bad condition and congested. Very hard to get around without a local.
  • Most things overall are extremely cheap.